If you want to write better songs, be more expressive with your improvisations and master the most challenging musical techniques, a firm grasp of music theory is essential.

Rockschool have developed their Music Theory syllabus so the more you know about music theory, the better you can express yourself through your music.


Music Theory Secrets

From pitch, octaves, rhythm, chords, notes and scales to harmony, melody lines and form, a comprehensive understanding of how and why your favourite composers, musicians and performers create their legendary masterpieces is a necessary discipline you must acquire if you have a desire to pursue a career in the ever-evolving world of the competitive music industry.

Learning to Listen

Music students of all ages and from all over the world learn how to critique music in order to accurately identify what it is they are actually hearing. This is a key skill on the road to becoming an expert in the music industry. Rockschool have developed their Music Theory syllabus to provide you with all the necessary tools to help you achieve this.


Learning to Read Music

The Western music tradition is based on the written score, and one thing we are certain of – our Rockschool Music Theory syllabus will effectively teach you to sight read accurately and effortlessly. Of course, the mechanical element will only be achieved through hours of practice on your particular instrument, but the core of sight reading is being able to hear what you see, which will help you to grow as a musician.


How Writing Music Improves Playing

As the written language of music is universal, regular composition and performance exercises in music theory will improve your ability to accurately convey your composition to other musicians, whether in a recording scenario, a live performance, or a freewheeling jam session.

How Theory Improves Efficiency

Even if you can play music by ear, there is still a lot of trial and error that comes with it. Knowing the rules behind melody and harmony will make it a whole lot easier to find the notes that will work in a particular portion of a song.

When you can read music, you’re able to recognise fundamental aspects involved in composition, such as harmony, melody, and rhythm. Knowing these helps you to become a more efficient player by allowing you to avoid some of the uncertainty that can really slow down the writing process.

Whether you are in a studio to record some tracks or gathering for your latest band practise, improving your efficiency as a musician is a something you should always be striving for. One day, you may find yourself working under a tight budget and/or strict deadlines whilst recording an album, or nearing the date of a show, and you’ll be more than ready to handle it because you are technically prepared.

How Genre Defines Culture

Jazz, folk, blues, country, hip-hop, R'n'B, rock, pop and reggae - music very much narrates how man has evolved through the musical genres they composed. The styles in which musicians wrote throughout history tell us a lot about culture and society at large during those times. Set yourself a challenge: explore a particular genre of music that you’re not yet familiar with: do you recognise any rudiments and composition differences across genres or do they sound the same?

How to Appreciate Music

Exposing yourself to music you have never heard before provides an opportunity to familiarise yourself with new literature and practise unbiased listening. We don’t necessarily enjoy every style of music we hear, but with the knowledge of Music Theory you will be able to analyse and explore other music genres, which may in itself bring a new kind of enjoyment to something you previously disliked. Perhaps this will benefit you and open your eyes (and ears!) to new ideas in your own musical landscape!

How to Critique

It is important that you consider Music Theory as dynamic as any other subject associated with higher learning. Similar to mainstream topics of study like Science and Mathematics, the study of Music Theory, much like any of the other rigours in higher education, will enable you to continually improve your performance as a student and a musician. The Rockschool Music Theory syllabus prepares you for success in all areas of music.

Reach your Musical Potential

Being a confident sight reader will only assist you in reaching your full musical potential. It’s should be seen as an empowering, liberating skill, rather than something boring or constrictive. Some musicians worry that playing from sheet music results in robotic playing, producing a mechanical sound. You may even find that this is the case early on, but with dedicated practise sessions, your own unique playing style will come through.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” Pablo Picasso

The upcoming Rockschool Music Theory exam entry deadline is fast approaching. Get your entries in by 17 Feb, 2020!


Rockschool's Music Theory Guidebooks are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composers, students and teachers at all levels and are designed to prepare you for Rockschool's theory exams, as study and teaching aids, or as standalone guides. Rockschool's Popular Music Theory Syllabus is fully accredited and offers UCAS points at Grades 6, 7 and 8.