Popular Music Theory

At Popular Music Theory Debut, you’ll begin learning all the music theory you need for your music career, whether you’re a musician, a composer or a teacher. From sight reading to in-depth knowledge of scales and instrumental techniques, we’ve got you covered.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 60 minutes 
Rockschool Music Theory

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Rockschool’s Theory Guidebook Debut – Grade 5 are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composers, students and teachers, designed for use with Rockschool’s theory exams, as study and teaching aids, or as standalone guides.

The Rockschool Debut Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Debut exam, containing example questions and a full specimen paper. Topics at this level include drawing different note values, writing scales, identifying parts of instruments and understanding BPM and tempo.

Please note: The popular music theory workbooks are only available in hard copy format. You can buy a copy from you local stockist or via Music Room & Amazon

Popular Music Theory Guidebook Debut - Grade 5

Popular Music Theory Guidebook Debut - Grade 5

Rockschool's Theory Guidebooks are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composer...
Popular Music Theory Workbook Debut

Popular Music Theory Workbook Debut

The Rockschool Debut Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Debut exam, containing exa...

Music Theory Exam: Grade Debut

Music Notation

At Debut you will cover the following aspects of music notation:

  • Drawing and recognising treble and bass clefs
  •  Drawing different note values (musical symbols)
  •  Writing and identifying accidentals
  •  Writing and understanding barlines and repeat marks
  •  Writing and identifying time signatures
  •  Understanding note lengths: adding barlines and time signatures, including double barlines
  •  Recognising note lengths, and being able to add missing notes and rests
  •  Understanding how to beam notes
  •  Understanding equivalent notes and rests
  •  Note naming, and identifying the correct clef
  •  Identifying accidentals
  •  Identifying chords
  •  Understanding and identifying melodic intervals
  •  Understanding and identifying harmonic intervals
  •  Understanding tempo markings
  •  Recognising the note values of: whole, half, quarter and eighth notes
  •  Understanding how to group notes and rests
  •  Naming flats, sharps, and naturals on the stave
  •  Understanding note “tails”
  •  Identifying pitch ranges: E on bass clef- middle C/ middle C to top G on the treble clef
  •  Understanding and recognising tones and semitones

Popular Music Harmony

At Debut you will cover the following aspects of popular music harmony:

  • Identifying scale intervals
  • Writing scales with accidentals
  • Writing scales with key signatures
  • Applying scale knowledge
  • Identifying arpeggios
  • Basic chord knowledge
  • Understanding and writing scales and arpeggios in a major key
  • Identifying tones and semitones
  • Identifying C/ G major scales, chords and arpeggios
  • Understanding major scale formula
  • Identifying C/ G key signatures

Band Knowledge

At Debut you will cover the following aspects of band knowledge:

  • Identification of Drum kit parts
  • Identification of Guitar and Bass Guitar parts
  • Identification of keys on acoustic and electronic piano keyboards
  • Understanding vocal pitch ranges
  • Understanding and identifying a variety of instrumental notation
  • Understanding and identifying instrumental scores and clef

Band Analysis

At Debut you will cover the following aspects of band analysis

  • Understanding scores with up to two different instruments
  • Identification of tempo including an understanding of BPM
  • Recognising time signatures
  • Identification of clefs
  • Recognising keys
  • Understanding pitch
  • Understanding duration and rhythm
  • Chord analysis
  • Recognising melodic and harmonic Intervals
  • Understanding note values and equivalent rests
  • Understanding the use of barlines
  • Identifying different parts of band instruments

Digital Popular Music Theory Exams

We’ve been working hard to make our Popular Music Theory Exams available online, and we’re delighted to announce that is now possible to continue your musical progression from the comfort of your own home.

The content of the exams remains largely unchanged and an interactive sheet music editor means you and your students’ exam experience will be straightforward and accessible.

You can learn more about how our Digital Popular Music Theory exams work, including how to enter for an individual exam or arrange a private exam day, here, and download the full list of FAQs below.

During your music theory exam, you will be expected to complete some tasks which involve writing notation. These are completed using software called ‘Flat’, which is embedded into the online exam system. Please download the guidance below for instructions on how to access the software and some sample tasks to help you practise prior to your exam day.

Digital Files

For the RSL shop we’ve chosen the most widely used media for ease of use and flexibility when transferring across different devices.

Every complete digital book (e.g. Electric Guitar Grade 1) includes:

  • PDF sheet music
  • MP3 audio
  • Supporting tests

Download Limits

We know downloading digital content can be frustrating at times which is why we’ve given you multiple chances to download your audio and sheet music.

Each complete digital book purchased includes:

  • 5 audio downloads
  • 3 sheet music downloadsThis means if you misplace your content, or if your download times-out, you’ll still have plenty of attempts to download your content.

Purchase Options

1. Hard Copy

The hard copy or paperback version can be purchased from our shop for shipping to the UK. Orders for shipping to other countries can be placed via www.musicroom.com. The paperback version includes everything you need for your exam in one essential book, including sheet music, a code for access to MP3 audio and complete supporting tests.

2. Digital Download (where applicable)

Digital downloads is the most popular way of purchasing and downloading a Rockschool book, track or supporting test. Rockschool digital book downloads come complete with PDF sheet music, MP3 audio and supporting tests for instant accessibility on all your favourite devices.

Note: Digital sheet music is stamped with your email address and order number.

3. Digital Download + E-Book Access

The RSL e-books, utilising Learning Platform technology powered by MatchMySound, are the ultimate practise tool, giving you the ability to master your instrument like never before.

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