Music theory summer school

Coronavirus update


At present there's no information available on when the ABRSM will be able to offer theory exams. 


With the current uncertainties over a return to face-to-face teaching, it's looking increasingly unlikely that the annual summer school, in what would have been its 25th year, will be able to run in July/August 2020.

Please email Rachel if you'd like further information about future presentations.



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 first available exam date, after the summer school, is usually mid-November.  However, less experienced students may prefer to sit the exam in March, which allows more time for practice.

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

closed and open scores

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.

© 2016-2020 by Rachel Harrison.