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Passing Your ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory

October 15th, 2021 by Cassie Steele


The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) is the most popular music exam board in the world. Over 650,000 CANDIDATES SIT THEIR EXAMS with ABRSM every single year, in more than 90 countries. They offer exams for most instruments, including piano, guitar, trumpet and saxophone, and also have a jazz syllabus. Whatever instrument you play, you cannot take Grades 6-8 and above unless you have passed either Grade 5 Music Theory, a Grade 5 jazz exam or Grade 5 General Musicianship. The Grade 5 Music Theory exam is by far the most popular option. To pass the exam you need a good knowledge of key signatures, intervals, musical terms, time signatures and an understanding of orchestral instruments. With so much knowledge needed, it can help to get a tutor to FOCUS YOUR MUSIC STUDIES and help you learn.

Chords and Cadences

Understanding how chords are made up and which notes are in which chord is fundamental when you are taking Grade 5 Music Theory. You should be able to identify chord symbols and be able to use Roman Numeral analysis, for instance, I, IV, V. USING A CHORD CHART can help you gain this knowledge. It will also help if you practise playing the chords on a piano, keyboard, guitar or ukulele. You will be asked in the exam to choose chords that would sound pleasant under a melody. Knowing the notes of the basic chords will help you with this. You will also have to identify chord cadences - two chords at the end of the piece of music, and say whether these are perfect, imperfect, interrupted or plagal. Again, knowing the notes in the BASIC MAJOR AND MINOR CHORDS will help you to identify this.

Key signatures

Knowing which sharps or flats are included in a key signature is an essential to pass Grade 5 Music Theory. A tutor can help you to UNDERSTAND THE MUSIC THEORY concept known as the "Circle of Fifths." This is an easy way to work out the sharps and flats in each key. There are also Mnemonic devices that you can learn, to help you remember the order of the sharps and flats, such as "Father Christmas Gives Dad and Electric Blanket," for the sharps (FCGDAEB).

Orchestral Instruments

Grade 5 Music Theory isn't just about knowing the rudiments of reading a music score. You will also need to know about orchestral instruments, such as the violin, trumpet, clarinet and tuba. Listening to these instruments online will help you - there are plenty of videos to watch about each instrument. You will need to know the range of each instrument and if they are A TRANSPOSING INSTRUMENT, LIKE THE TRUMPET, which would read a C on the score, but actually play a B♭.

A tutor can help you learn the specialist knowledge that you need to pass ABRSM Grade 5 Music Theory. You will then be able to take instrumental and vocal exams from Grade 6 through to diploma level.

Tags: Exams, ABRSM
Categories: Exam