Are Music Theory Exams A Waste Of Time?

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Music Theory Exams By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Music Theory Exams
Last updated: 06/02/2018
Tags: abrsm, i have a real desire to pass on my love of music theory, music theory

After many years of teaching various woodwind instruments using the ABRSM syllabus, pupils would always reach the inevitable "brick wall" of the dreaded Grade 5 Music Theory Exam! In some cases this could even deter students from continuing on an instrument altogether, which is a huge shame.  

Combining studying music at school with music theory practice is essential. It is staggering how one thing helps the other. Very quickly pupils begin to understand their scales and arpeggios!  A lot of the mystery of key signatures is explained. Music Theory sees their sight-reading improve by helping their understanding of rhythms and the "maths" behind how a bar is broken down into beats. Aural skills improve as they began to understand different intervals and tried to write their own compositions. If students are Jazz musicians, Theory willhelp with their improvisation.

Our "dread" of music theory, as with everything, comes from a lack of knowledge and fear of this insurmountable pile of information. But it can actually be quite enjoyable to tackle it head on and it is certainly very rewarding as a teacher to see the penny drop with various different topics. There is a reason why this understanding is encouraged before tackling Grades 6, 7 and 8 on their instruments/voice. And there's only one way to find this out for yourself...!


Fiona Asbury Music Theory Exams Tutor (Bromley)

About The Author

I'm a Professional Freelancing Saxophonist and First Class Honours graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. I perform regularly in the UK and abroad and have taught theory, saxophone, flute and clarinet for 14yrs.




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