What You Will Learn in Grade 3 Music Theory



This article presents the topics that you must learn in preparation for the Grade 3 Theory of Music Examination organized by the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM).

It will give students and teachers an overview of what needs to be covered in your music theory lessons. I wish you nothing but the best as you prepare for the theory exams!

  1. Simple and compound time signatures
  2. Groupings of notes in 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8
  3. Groupings of rests in 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8
  4. Demisemiquaver notes and rests
  5. Upbeats or the anacrusis
  6. Ledger lines: extending more than two lines
  7. Transposition at the octave - learning to rewrite a melody either an octave higher or lower
  8. Learning the E and A-flat major scales
  9. Learning the B, F# and C# minor scales
  10. Learning the G, C and F minor scales
  11. Intervals: in addition to learning the numbers of the interval, now the description (or quality) of the interval is required. These include the following intervals
    1. major and minor 2nd
    2. major and minor 3rd
    3. perfect 4th and 5th
    4. major and minor 6th
    5. major and minor 7th
    6. perfect octave (8ve)
  12. Performance directions, Italian music terms and music signs


Making A List - Starting Now

You will notice that as you progress through the grades in the ABRSM Theory of Music course, you will be required at each stage to understand, learn and memorize a list of performance directions.

Performance Directions ListCredit: iStock photoThis is a list of musical terms (either in English or a foreign language like Italian, German and French) and music symbols that you will continually observe in the music you study.

I strongly suggest starting a list of these performance directions as soon as you can.

  • Grab yourself a notebook, and divide each page by a pencil-drawn line
  • On the left column, write the performance direction or draw the music symbol
  • On the right column, write its meaning or definition

Dedicate this notebook to merely 'collecting' and listing the required performance directions you need to learn and memorize, from grade to grade.

Continually review this list, always keeping an eye out for these terms or symbols when you study your own music so that you can apply your knowledge of the term/symbol.