Popular Music Theory
Grade 3

The Popular Music Theory Grade 3 exam will test your increasingly sophisticated understanding of music notation and theory with a thorough look at time signatures, scale intervals, and working with different tempos.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 90 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 Grade 3 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 3 exam, containing example questions and a full specimen paper. Key areas tested at Grade 3 include adding time signatures, perfect intervals, identifying piano keys and recognising chord symbols.

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

Popular Music Theory Workbook Grade 3

Popular Music Theory Workbook Grade 3

The Rockschool Grade 3 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 3 exam, containing...
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...

Music Theory Exam: Grade 3

Music Notation

At Grade 3 you will cover the following aspects of music notation:

  • Understanding note lengths, and adding barlines
  • Recognising note values
  • Beaming notes correctly
  • Understanding and adding time signatures: 3/8, 6/8, 12/8
  • Understanding how to beam notes of different values, and adding missing notes where applicable
  • Understanding and adding equivalent notes and rests
  • Understanding note names: up to three ledger lines
  • Recognising clefs
  • Recognising notes on the stave, and understanding enharmonics
  • Understanding repeat marks in beats and bars: Segno, D.S/ D.C al Coda and Fine
  • Identifying and understanding dynamics: pp and ff
  • Identifying and understanding articulation
  • Understanding scales: major and minor
  • Understanding triplets and swing notation
  • Recognising improv directions
  • Understanding vibrato
  • Understanding fermata

Popular Music Harmony

At Grade 3 you will cover the following aspects of popular music harmony:

  • Identifying intervals: perfect 4th and 5th
  • Applying interval knowledge
  • Identifying scale intervals
  • Recognising tones and semitones
  • Understanding, and writing, scales with accidentals
  • Understanding, and writing, major pentatonic and minor pentatonic scales
  • Understanding pentatonic melodies: major and minor
  • Understanding, and applying, scale knowledge, including the harmonised major scale
  • Identifying arpeggios
  • Understanding chords, and harmonised major scales, including diatonic chords
  • Understanding, and writing, chords
  • Recognising chord charts
  • Creating chord charts from roman numerals
  • Application of chord knowledge
  • Recognising melodic and harmonic intervals
  • Understanding notation: 3 sharps and flats

Band Knowledge

At Grade 3 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 varied instrumental notation
  • Understanding and identifying instrumental scores and clefs
  • Understanding and recognising musical symbols on instrumental scores

Band Analysis

At Grade 3 you will cover the following aspects of band analysis:

  • Understanding scores with up to three different instruments
  • Identification of tempo including an understanding of BPM
  • Understanding time signature
  • Recognising chord symbols
  • Instrument-specific techniques
  • Understanding pitch
  • Recognising dynamic markings
  • Identifying scalic patterns
  • Recognising Intervals
  • Recognising arpeggiated chords
  • Understanding articulation
  • Recognising keys
  • Genre-specific features of the music
  • Understanding note values: including equivalent notes and rests
  • Understanding musical devices in a variety of band scores

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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