What is the course about?
An introductory course for those with little or no previous knowledge, covering the basics of music theory using the ABRSM/Trinity Grades 1 and 2 Syllabuses. Practical exercises in class in conjunction with written homework will increase your understanding of musical language and notation.
This course may be used as preparation for an ABRSM music theory exam. Please contact the music office (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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: https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-booking/exam-dates-and-fees/ 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?
- rhythmic values for notes and rests from semibreve to semiquaver, including ties and dotted notes
- time signatures of 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 2/2, 3/2, 4/2 and 3/8
- barlines and the grouping of rhythmic values within bars
- pitch names on treble and bass clefs including two ledger lines
- sharp, flat and natural signs and their cancellation
- scales, scale degrees, interval (numbers), key signatures, tonic triads:
[-] construction of major keys (up to two sharps or flats)
[-] the construction of minor keys (A, E, D): harmonic and melodic scales.
- a selection of commonly used musical terms and symbols.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- read, write, hear, clap and play/sing simple rhythms
- read and write pitch on the treble and bass staves
- read, hear and write music in simple major and minor
- understand the most commonly used musical terms and symbols
- answer questions on a Grade 1 and 2 theory music exam papers.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
- This course is designed for students who have already started learning an instrument or voice so you need to be familiar with the basic symbols of music notation, but no other previous experience of music theory is needed.
- It is expected that you will already be learning and instrument/voice whilst taking this class.
- 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, humming), 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?
You will need manuscript paper, pencil and eraser, notebook and pen.
Please buy and bring to class the two ABRSM workbooks as follows:
ABRSM Music Theory in Practice Grade 1 (c.£4) [external website]
ABRSM Music Theory in Practice Grade 2 (c.£5) [external website].
You may also like to buy this reference book:
ABRSM Guide to Music Theory Part I (covers Grades 1–5) (c.£7) [external] This book is used frequently for reference during grades 1-5.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
- This course leads to Music theory: grade 3
- 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.