Grade V theory is often used as a benchmark for music knowledge and refers to the ABRSM music theory exams. These exams help students beginning with the fundamental building blocks of music theory, and progress to cover western music history and periodic styles, their composers, an introduction to composition techniques and beyond.
ABRSM require Grade 5 theory to be obtained as a prerequisite in order for candidates to take Grades 6, 7 and 8 practical exams in all instruments. The ethos behind this is that “a thorough understanding of the elements of music is essential for a full and satisfying performance at these higher grades.”
So what is covered in Grade 5 theory? The latest syllabus follows on from the previous grades, and also includes: (Current syllabus from 2018).
- Irregular time signatures and the grouping of notes and rests within these times, as well as irregular divisions of simple time values.
- The tenor clef, transposition including correctly reading and transcribing for transposing instruments.
- Scales and key signatures of all keys that include up to six sharps and flats, as well as all intervals from any note.
- Chord progression identification at cadential points of a simple melody in the keys of C, G, D, or F.
- Ornaments, terms and signs, as well as an understanding of instruments and the clefs they use, and how to apply music theory to actual music.
Knowledge of these areas within music theory helps to create well-rounded musicians, and equip students with relevant skills they can use in a multitude of practical settings. ABRSM explain that “as instrumental skills progress, development in music theory and musicianship becomes increasingly important in helping students to perform with sensitivity, understanding and confidence”.
Whether you’re preparing for Grade V theory or ABRSM practical exams, PlayScore 2 can be used as a practice device to help optimise your study time. The app can interactively playback your sheet music at both concert pitch and transposed pitches, and will recognise accidentals and key signatures, as well as ornaments and performance directions. PlayScore 2 is a valuable addition to any students’ toolkit for both theory and practice.