Music theory: grade 5

Course Dates: 22/01/20 - 25/03/20
Time: 19:40 - 21:10
Location: International House

Learn about irregular metre, tenor clef, major and minor keys to six flats/sharps, primary triads, cadences, and

standard expression signs. Essential for anyone taking higher grade practical exams.


What is the course about?

This course covers the syllabus for ABRSM/Trinity Grade 5, the grade required to take practical music exams at higher levels. Develop an understanding of complex rhythm and metre, melody writing and basic diatonic harmony and learn about the use of instruments and voices.

This course may be used as preparation for an ABRSM music theory exam. Please contact the music office ( if you would like to sit your exam at City Lit, which is an ABRSM Theory exam centre. ABRSM theory exam dates/fees are published online here: all grade exams are available three times per year, and it is usual to sit your exam the term after your course finishes.

What will we cover?

- irregular time signatures (e.g. 5/4) and irregular subdivisions of the beat (e.g. quintuplets)
- tenor clef (used by cello, bassoon etc.), and transcribing music between the four main clefs
- transposition at small intervals (up to Perfect 5th)
- major and minor keys up to six sharps/flats
- intervals greater than an octave
- primary triads and supertonic triad in root position,1st and 2nd inversions
- use of these chords in harmonic cadences in C, G, D and F major
- terms and signs for melodic ornaments.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- read, write, hear, clap and play/sing complex rhythms in any metre
- read and write in all four main clefs, and transcribe music between them
- transpose music at small intervals (up to Perfect 5th)
- read, hear and write music in major and minor keys up to six sharps / flats
- read and write intervals greater than an octave
- read, hear and write primary triads and supertonic triads in root position,1st and 2nd inversions
- use these chords in harmonic cadences in C, G, F and F major
- identify and explain musical features in a vocal or instrumental score
- answer questions on a Grade 5 theory music exam paper.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

- You need to have completed Music theory: grade 4 or equivalent, and have good knowledge of rhythm and metre, melodic structure, the cycle of 5ths, and primary triads.
- You will need to follow written and verbal instructions in English, engage in class discussion and practical exercises, take notes in English and write staff notation.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

- Tutor presentation and explanation, written and practical exercises (clapping, singing, playing) written exercises, tutor feedback, class discussion.
- Written homework between sessions will help you practise and consolidate what you learn in class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

- Please buy and bring to class ABRSM Music Theory in Practice Grade 5, plus ABRSM Guide to Music Theory Part I (covers Grades 1–5).
- You will also need manuscript paper, pencil and eraser, notebook and pen.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

For more details about musicianship and music theory please visit our blog: Musicianship and music theory at City lit which lists our full sequence of musicianship and music theory classes.


Customer Reviews 3 item(s)

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Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

If you want to take Grade 5 music theory exam, this is the course for you. It does require knowledge of grade 1-4 music theory, but it will also broaden considerably your knowledge of how music is written and your appreciation of how composers used their craft.
Course Rating
Review by Lorna Ball / (Posted on 20/03/2019)
Good teaching from knowledgeable teacher
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 19/03/2019)
I would recommend it
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 19/03/2019)
Tutor Biographies
Edward Breen Tutor Website

Edward teaches music history and music theory at City lit where he is Head of Programme: Advanced Studies in the School of Performing Arts. His specialism is early music (medieval, renaissance and baroque periods) and he completed his PhD in historical musicology at King's College London (2013) on the performance of medieval music. Outside of teaching, Edward is a regular contributor to Gramophone magazine and has lectured for Dartington International Summer School, London's Southbank Centre and The British Library. He has also worked as a researcher for BBC Proms and written for the journal Early Music (OUP). His recent essays are published in: The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Historical Performance in Music, (Cambridge University Press); The Montpellier Codex: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music 16 (Boydell Press); Recomposing the Past: Representations of Early Music on Stage and Screen (Ashgate 2018); and 30-Second Classical Music (Ivy Press).

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: MG455

Wed, eve, 22 Jan - 25 Mar '20

Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)

Full fee: £149.00
Senior fee: £149.00
Concession: £91.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2630

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.