ABRSM Music Theory Changes from 2018
So, you may or may not have heard that the ABRSM are changing the theory exam syllabus from 2018! Only at grades 1 to 5 though, so grades 6 to 8 are still the same for anyone panicking!
So, what’s changing I hear you ask? Well, the ABRSM is updating the layout of the question papers to make sure that they are clear and understandable. We all have instances of candidates missing the question over the page don’t we?! Other than the layout changes, the following changes are being implemented: –
• Introducing multiple choice questions for musical terms and signs
• Reducing the amount of information on the page for time signature questions (Grades 1 to 3)
• Simplifying the layout of intervals questions (Grades 4 and 5)
• Simplifying the layout for Grade 5, Question 7 (chords at cadence points), with candidates asked to describe chords only using roman numerals.
• Removing rhythm-writing, melody-writing and word-setting questions, and the Grade 5 SATB short/open score question
The biggest changes at grade 5 where most candidates take the music theory examination to enable the higher performance grades to be taken show that the composition element will be completely removed along with the SATB short/open score section. The composition removal will make any candidate taking the grade 6 examination have to start from scratch which also includes a modulation during the composition. That’s a big change between only 1 grade boundary.
The composition element will be replaced by a combination of other smaller questions based on the knowledge and understanding at the correct level so should feel familiar to teachers and candidates.
The ABRSM Music Theory in Practice publications will continue to be published in their current format as they include all of the elements of the syllabus, just with a couple of extra theory elements that will not be questioned on the examination paper. Furthermore, the First Steps in Music Theory and AB Guide to Music Theory will also remain the same.
The difference will come with the examination papers themselves. The past papers from 2016 and previous will still be available to use alongside a new publication available from July of the new Music Theory resources online. There will be two complete sets of examination papers from grades 1 to 5 available online to download and use for free. There will also be a free online resource to be able to practise the new multiple choice questions for assessing musical terms and signs.