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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:55 am 
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New year, new challenge. I've been reading a bit about Grade 5 music theory. I realise that the exam isn't mandatory, but it seems to be a solid foundation worth acquiring. ABRSM has published exam papers and separate model answers by grade and by year and there are countless theory books ranging from stodgy to (supposedly) seminal.

Music theory doesn't terrify me but I haven't seen a paper yet, so not sure how high the bar is. Is DIY feasible? Where would you start? Are there clever apps that make it interesting? DD has music teachers but their focus so far has been practical / cool. :-)

Tips welcome.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:51 am 
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We use the ABRSM Grade exams so both of my dds have had to do Grade 5 music theory in order to do Grade 6 and beyond.

We took the same approach as to the 11 plus. We booked a slot that was the day after the October half term and then purchased all the past papers and ref books and they spent half term revising.

Dd1 took it first and got a high merit.

Dd2 got a distinction which was a real surprise to her music teacher who was loudly predicting failure just the week before.

When she sat the exam I was astonished by how many candidates left early. We always use every minute, going through it again and again until the invigilator says stop. By that time dd2 was only of only 6 left in the room from 50.

Both dds found it helpful in GCSE music and feel it was a straight memory test if you bothered to prepare properly. One of their friends had to take it three times even though his mother is a music teacher. He did not bother to prepare and also left early the time he was doing it same time as dd2.

Does your dd not have to do it to progress to Grade Six or does she do Trinity? DG


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:17 pm 
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Daogroupie wrote:
We use the ABRSM Grade exams so both of my dds have had to do Grade 5 music theory in order to do Grade 6 and beyond.



This is not correct DG - you don't have to do grade 5 theory to progress to ABRSM grade 6.

There is another route for those who don't want to do theory - it's the jazz grade 5. It's perfectly possible to get GCSE A* music without grade 5 theory.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:27 pm 
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Thanks, Daogroupie, that's very helpful.

Daogroupie wrote:
Does your dd not have to do it to progress to Grade Six or does she do Trinity? DG


She plays two instruments, one since year 4, the other since year 5, so she's still below Grade 6. One teacher favours Trinity, the other ABRSM; both downplay grades and cover music that is off the classical syllabus for quite a lot of the year: duets, interesting pieces, etc. She also plays at school, so her sight reading and feel for music is good. The theory exam isn't looming yet, but it would be great to get it out of the way in the next 18-24 months. I just want to get my head around what's involved. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:36 pm 
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Guest55 wrote:
There is another route for those who don't want to do theory - it's the jazz grade 5. It's perfectly possible to get GCSE A* music without grade 5 theory.


Jazz is an option we'll consider too, but we may do the theory exam anyway.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:13 pm 
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Yes the jazz is a good option - I'm not into jazz at all but the skills my DS learned were very useful for the GCSE composition element. In fact I'd say it is more useful than theory because you 'see' which notes go together and how to create music practically rather than just theoretically. [PS I did do grade 1 to 5 theory myself when younger so do have something to compare it to]


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:42 pm 
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Stroller wrote:
New year, new challenge. I've been reading a bit about Grade 5 music theory. I realise that the exam isn't mandatory, but it seems to be a solid foundation worth acquiring. ABRSM has published exam papers and separate model answers by grade and by year and there are countless theory books ranging from stodgy to (supposedly) seminal.

Music theory doesn't terrify me but I haven't seen a paper yet, so not sure how high the bar is. Is DIY feasible? Where would you start? Are there clever apps that make it interesting? DD has music teachers but their focus so far has been practical / cool. :-)

Tips welcome.


Is this something your dc wants to do? Guess thats the starting point. Lots good advice if Dc is wanting to do it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:24 pm 
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Yamin151 wrote:
Is this something your dc wants to do? Guess thats the starting point. Lots good advice if Dc is wanting to do it.


Fair question. DD mentioned in passing during the holidays that a couple of the girls are "doing Grade 5 theory" and some in her music class have already done grades 7 or 8 practical exams, so have either done the theory exam or have a comparable level of knowledge of the rudiments. That's what made me think about it. They're set for music, so having a proper grasp of theory might be as mundane as needing to know your tables. :)

No rush, no strong views either way, just giving it some thought. Years ago, I studied music to a fairly high level, including harmony and counterpoint, but I never did formal theory exams in isolation, hence my curiosity.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:43 pm 
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My dd1 has never bothered to do theory as she takes Trinity exams, but it turned out to be a bit of a mistake when she came to look at sixth form scholarships- some ask not only have you passed it but what level and score? This scared her off applying.

It would have been easier to fit in before she got to year 11 and now is very busy, so missed out on an option that she might have applied to otherwise.

She did apply for other scholarships including music and did very well, but it was more stress and work relying on her interview and audition skills entirely when she could have easily done very well in the theory exams, judging by her usual talent for doing well on paper tests!

We never intended to move for sixth form either.it has just turned out that way.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:25 pm 
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Following this.

DD hasn't bothered with grade exams so far, she likes to play pieces she chooses with her teacher. He gives her a good all round teaching including sight reading and some theory. He didn't bother with grade exams himself until grade 5. He ended up doing music at Oxford so it obviously doesn't hurt.

She does want to do GCSE music though. However if for some reason she can't ( if it doesn't fit with other options) then she is looking to do a practical grade (her teacher reckons she could start grade 4 now) and also do theory grade 5, simply so she has some sort of recognition for her music.

Unlike the 11+ it isn't something I feel I can DIY with her though.


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