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Latest exam updates

Grade 5 Music Theory waiver (not applicable in the UK & Ireland)

We are extending our Grade 5 Music Theory waiver until 23 May 2021. This means that candidates with a Grade 6 to 8 Performance Grade exam submission date up to and including 23 May can take their exam without first passing Grade 5 Music Theory. We are making this exceptional arrangement to allow candidates who have been unable to take an exam in recent months to progress with their learning. From 24 May, the Grade 5 Music Theory requirement will return. For exam dates/exam submission dates after 23 May, all candidates taking a Grade 6 to 8 Performance or Practical Grade must first pass Grade 5 Music Theory.

Performance Grade exams

We are pleased to confirm that we will be offering Performance Grade exams every month for the remainder of 2021. Please check here for dates and fees. We are extending the introductory 15% discount for these exams so that it applies to all remotely-assessed Performance Grade and ARSM exams in 2021. Just enter code ABPG15SG when you book using our online service. Please also read our discount information and terms and conditions here.

Singapore office

On government advice, we will be following a more flexible and hybrid way of working. Although working from home is still encouraged, from 12 April we will be able to answer a limited number of calls and applicants can contact us via the Local Contact - ABRSM: Local exam contacts. We will continue to update you when further information is published by Ministry of Manpower.

Theory worksWelcome to Music Theory Trainer

Bring music theory to life with fun and engaging challenges at Grades 1–5.

ABRSM Music Theory Trainer contains over 6,000 specially-written questions designed to test and challenge your music theory knowledge.

Start by learning the basics then test yourself and see if you can get a perfect score. Every time you complete a round, you’ll unlock the next level. Watch your music theory knowledge build up in these fun challenges and become a music theory expert!

Hey, phone users! Music notation is complex and phone screens are small. This app is best viewed on an iPad but there's still lots you can learn and enjoy if you’re using the app on a smaller phone. Make sure you check out the preview screenshots in the App Store.

Why music theory is important

Music theory is the study of how to express yourself with music. Understanding music theory means knowing the language of music – it's a way to explain the music we hear.

Music theory is not just learning how to build chords, intervals or key signatures. Every single concept in music theory is an idea or foundation for learning how to express your thoughts with sound and music.

How many times do you listen to music (from a playlist on your phone to your exam pieces) and think "that bit of this piece sounds just like a section from another one"? Why does that connection happen? 

The connection is likely to be a catchy chord sequence, a rhythmic motif or the mood that a particular cadence can create. Being able to understand the theory behind these connections will help you progress as a performer or composer.

For example, when you create your own music, understanding harmony will enable you to create a sound world that is poignant, magical, happy or sad, and to communicate these expressive intentions to other performers via a common language.

When you perform music, you use your musical knowledge to interpret the composer’s intentions from the score and realise musical detail and style so that you can bring the music off the page, along with your own musical ideas and intentions.

Download Theory Works

Available on the iTunes App Store

Get it on Google Play

Learn about

  • The musical stave, pitches and clefs
  • Scales, keys and chords
  • Rhythm and time signatures
  • Musical terminology and signs
  • Voices and instruments
  • And much, much more!

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