Back to School Exam Preparation

Scales, sight-reading, aural training and theory are essentials in preparing for your music exams. Buying everything you need for your music exams can be confusing so we have made it as easy as possible for you. The ‘Exams’ section on our website includes lists of the books recommended by the exam boards and includes everything from scales to pieces. There is a new Associated Board Guitar syllabus which is due to be published in September; keep an eye out on our exams section for more details soon!

The Music Theory in Practice Workbooks for grades 1-8 can be found in the exams section which have practice papers with model answers.

Music Theory for Young Musicians is available for grades 1-5, to cover all aspects of the AB theory syllabus with a colourful and imaginative set of books. It includes one book per grade. The new revised editions for grades 1 and 2 contain a step-by-step guide for each concept, then general exercises for the evaluation and reinforcement of these concepts and some sample test papers.

Theory of Music Made Easy by Lina Ng, prepares musicians for each of the ABRSM theory grades. Information is presented in easy, small sections, and each volume builds on the work of the last. There are also revision chapters, covering two topics at one time. Having covered basic theory in the first two volumes, the third tackles more complex issues such as chord structures and compound time. The fourth book introduces students to the alto clef, double sharps and double flats, more complex key signatures and ornamentation. The fifth book introduces the subjects of transposition, irregular time signatures, chord sequences and cadences.

Theory of Music Made Easy (grades 6-8) have been written by Loh Phaik Kheng. The sixth book places emphasis on composition, including melodic composition and writing for orchestral instruments. It also contains definitions of terms used to describe a melody or piece of music. The book for grade 7 introduces the student to suspensions and retardations, and includes fun rewriting exercises to help the student to consolidate their learning. The final book in the series builds upon the learning of the previous volumes, allowing the student to smoothly proceed to the required standard set by the various examination boards.

Another popular series is How to Blitz ABRSM Theory Grades 1 – 8. This is the only theory book series to have been revised to include the new 2018 ABRSM syllabus

Belinda Byers has published some excellent new theory books; Faces in the Spaces and Cows Eating Grass are early theory books, aimed at very young children.

There are also some great books for the upper grades (5 – 8), which are really useful for simplifying the complex nature of music theory whilst keeping it interesting (Grade 5 Theory – The Easy Way and Grade 6 Theory – A Practical Approach).

Theory Made Easy for Little Children 1 and 2 by Lina Ng, are particularly suited for children aged 4-7, teaching the basics of music theory using games, colourful illustrations and stickers. There is also a lesson record and a certificate for signing by a teacher or parent when the book is complete.

Supplementary Material for Exams

The ‘Improve your’ range, for scales and sight-reading, by renowned educationalist, Paul Harris, are invaluable resources for students of most instruments. The Improve your sight-reading! graded series for pupils, will help to improve sight-reading. The workbooks introduce key concepts and technical issues with many practice tests included to improve reading ability.

The ‘Improve your scales! graded series for pupils is an innovative and fresh way to learn scales and arpeggios for grades 1-5, for most instruments. The workbooks contain the complete scales and arpeggios for the current ABRSM grades, from 2009, as well as finger fitness exercises, scale and arpeggio studies, key pieces and simple improvisations.

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