Music theory: grades 1 and 2
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: MG840
Choose a start date
Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)
Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.
What is the course about?
An introductory course for those with only a little previous knowledge, covering the basics of music theory using the ABRSM 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 external ABRSM music theory exam.
- Music theory grades 1-5 are available as online examinations only
- Music theory grade 6 and upwards are available as paper-based exams at ABRSM exam centres
For latest information from ABRSM, including theory exam dates/fees, please click: https://gb.abrsm.org/en/exam-booking/exam-dates-and-fees/ [external website].
- All grade exams are available three times per year, and we recommend you sit your exam the term after your course finishes.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
Grade 1 topics:
- rhythmic values for notes and rests from semibreve to semiquaver, including ties and dotted notes
- time signatures of 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4
- barlines and the grouping of rhythmic values within bars
- pitch names on treble and bass clefs
- sharp, flat and natural signs and their cancellation
- construction of major keys (C, G, D, F): scales, scale degrees, intervals above the tonic, key signatures, tonic triads
- the most commonly used musical terms and symbols.
Grade 2 topics:
- Subdivision of the beat into triplets
- Time signatures of 2/2, 3/2, 4/2 and 3/8, including the grouping of rhythmic values within bars
- ledger lines on treble and bass clefs
- keys of A, Bb and Eb major
- the construction of minor keys (A, E, D): harmonic and melodic scales, scale degrees, intervals above the tonic,
key signatures, tonic triads
- 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 rhythms in 2/2, 3/2, 4/2 and 3/8
- understand and apply triplet rhythms
- read and write pitch in treble and bass clefs, up to two ledger lines above/below the stave
- read, hear and write music in major keys up to three sharps / flats
- read and write music in simple minor keys (A, E, D)
- understand the use of melodic and harmonic minor constructions
- understand commonly used musical terms and symbols
- answer questions on a Grade 2 theory music exam paper.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is not suitable for absolute beginners, it 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 to follow a simple tune, 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 be set homework tasks each week.
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?
You will need your own copy of the course text-book (see below).
Your tutor will use a variety of techniques:
- tutor explanation and demonstration
- short revision videos and/or audio files (posted in Google Classroom)
- worksheets (posted in Google Classroom)
- group performing and individual demonstration tasks (e.g. clapping rhythms).
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 both of these books to class:
Discovering Music Theory, The ABRSM Grade 1 Workbook (c.£7) [external website].
Discovering Music Theory, The ABRSM Grade 2 Workbook (c.£7) [external website].
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
This course leads to Music theory: grade 3
Study of music theory is greatly enhanced by our Practical musicianship courses. 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.
Selena began her musical career as a composer, gaining a Dutch Government scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory, The Hague with Louis Andriessen. As a student she won numerous prizes including BBC Young Composers, resulting in a commission for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Radio 3 broadcasts. She has wide musical interests ranging from Renaissance counterpoint and the origins of tonality to twentieth-century composition techniques and electronic music. Selena performs in an experimental electronic music duo KOGG with Cerys Hogg. They create music by sampling vocals, sound objects, and home-made instruments, combining composed and improvised material. They have performed live and are producing an album. Selena has a keen interest in music pedagogy, particularly the social and cognitive benefits of music education, and is a specialist Kodály practitioner. She is also advisor in further education for the British Kodály Academy. Selena holds BMus (Hons), MMus and PGCE degrees, has held positions at Goldsmiths and Middlesex University and currently teaches at City Lit and Morley College.
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.