top of page

Music theory summer school


Rachel is sad to announce that 2022 will probably be the last time

the summer school will run in in it's current form


Aside from in 2020, the course has been held every summer since 1996 but, as with many businesses, the summer school has been a casualty of the pandemic.  With face-to-face tuition unavailable, people began looking for online alternatives.

But this isn't the end


The good news is that the course will be back, in a new form.  Rachel is exploring new ways to present the course – either as a published book or as a collection of downloadable resources, including:

how-to guides, with worked examples

worksheets, based on the new exam format

answer sheets

This is a large and exciting project, which Rachel plans to publish alongside blended learning opportunities, with options for both synchronous and asynchronous teaching.  In due course, the resources will be expanded to include topic-based, downloadable micro-lectures.

The grade 5 music theory summer school has been running since 1996.  Using purpose written materials, the course offers intensive, one-to-one tuition for singers and instrumentalists approaching grade 6 practical exams.


Run over the school summer holidays, with support in the run-up to the exam, the course leads to the ABRSM grade 5 theory exam.  It is also an ideal foundation for GCSE and 'A' level music.

Other grades, and term-time lessons, are available on request.  Rachel welcomes enquiries from other teachers.

The course comprises 6¼ hours of tuition, spread over the summer holidays to allow for several hours of homework between classes.  Although the course is studied primarily during the summer holidays, lessons can start before the end of the summer term, and be continued into the autumn term.
Other arrangements (for example fewer, but longer, lessons) may be possible, and extra lessons are available for students with limited prior knowledge.

Detailed marking of practice papers is available before the exam.  Students in previous years have found the marking service to be very helpful, and Rachel strongly recommends using it.

Examination Date
The way the examinations are held has changed significantly, and it is no longer possible to sit a written ABRSM theory exam for grades 1-5.  Instead, the board are offering online exams several times per year.

Further information is available on the ABRSM website.

The course is modular, each topic covering the total requirements of grades 1 to 5 of the ABRSM Music Theory syllabus (rather than progressing grade by grade).  Each module is supported by worksheets and questions drawn from past examination papers.  *


Module 1 – Pitch

This module covers:

treble, bass, alto and tenor clef reading

transposing between clefs

also ledger lines, accidentals and enharmonics.


Module 2 – Tonality

This module covers:

tones and semitones

major scales and key signatures

relative minors (harmonic and melodic)

chromatic scales

intervals and transposing instruments.

It also introduces elementary harmony including triads, chords and inversions, and cadences.


Module 3 – Rhythm

This module covers:

note values and dotted and tied notes

simple, compound and irregular time signatures

grouping of beats

regular and irregular division of note values

Module 4 – General

This module covers:

performance directions

reiterations and repeats

articulation and phrasing



It also covers general analysis questions.

* This description relates to the course that was running up to 2019.  Course content for 2021 has been modified to reflect the requirements of the new online exam.

bottom of page