A Complete Guide To Grade 1 Music Theory

Are you or your child preparing for the ABRSM Grade 1 Music Theory exam? Do you want to build a strong foundation in music theory? Look no further! The Complete Guide to Grade 1 Music Theory is here to help you achieve success.


What This Book Covers

Chapter 1

Notes And Their Time Values

This section dives into the fundamental building blocks of music notation—notes.

It covers note names and values, teaching you how to read and understand different note durations.

You'll learn about note stems, tails, and how to beam notes together to represent specific rhythmic patterns.

Chapter 2

Measures And Time Signatures

Understanding measures and time signatures is crucial for reading music.

This section explains the concept of measures, bar lines, and time signatures.

You'll gain insight into how to read and interpret different time signatures, ensuring accuracy and precision in your musical performance.

Chapter 3

The Staff

The staff is where music comes to life on paper.

This section explores the concept of pitch and its relationship to the staff.

You'll learn how to identify and read notes on the staff, including the use of ledger lines for notes outside the staff's range.

Chapter 4


Clefs are symbols that indicate the pitch range of the notes on the staff.

This section delves into the musical alphabet, types of clefs, and their specific usage.

You'll explore the treble clef and bass clef, understanding how to read music written in each clef.

Chapter 5

Tied And Dotted Notes

Tied and dotted notes introduce additional rhythmic variations and expressive possibilities in music.

This section teaches you how to identify, interpret, and perform tied notes and dotted notes accurately, expanding your rhythmic vocabulary.

Chapter 6


Rests play a crucial role in music notation, representing periods of silence.

This section covers rest names and their corresponding time values.

You'll also learn additional rules and conventions associated with rests, ensuring proper timing and phrasing in your musical interpretation.

Chapter 7

Sharps, Flats And Natural Signs

Sharps, flats, and natural signs, alter the pitch of a note.

This section explores their usage and placement within a musical context.

You'll understand how accidentals affect the pitch of notes and when to apply them.

Chapter 8

Half Steps And Whole Steps

Half steps and whole steps, also known as semitones and tones, are the building blocks of musical intervals and scales.

This section explains the concept of half steps and whole steps, providing examples to reinforce your understanding.

Chapter 9


Scales form the basis of melody and harmony in music.

This section covers major scales, specifically focusing on C Major, G Major, D Major, and F Major which are required for grade 1.

You'll learn the patterns to form them and the degrees of these scales, laying the foundation for future grades.

Chapter 10

Keys And Key Signatures

Understanding keys and key signatures is essential for reading and performing music.

This section introduces the concept of keys and explains how key signatures are used to indicate the tonality of a piece.

You'll gain insights into the order and position of key signatures, enhancing your overall understanding of musical structure.

Chapter 11


Building upon the earlier chapter on sharps, flats and natural signs, this chatper delves deeper into accidentals and their role in altering pitch within a piece of music.

You'll learn how to use accidentals effectively, both as part of the key signature and as temporary alterations throughout a composition.

Chapter 12

Chords And Tonic Triads

Now we move on to harmony and take a look at what chords are in music.

This section introduces chords and explores the concept of tonic triads.

You'll understand what a chord is and how a tonic triad functions within a musical context.

Chapter 13


Intervals refer to the distance between two pitches in music.

This section delves into the concept of intervals, exploring both melodic and harmonic intervals.

You'll learn about the two types of intervals and how to identify and measure them.

Chapter 14

Grouping Notes And Rests

Proper grouping of notes and rests is essential for clarity and readability in music notation.

This section introduces three rules for grouping notes and rests.

You'll gain practical tips to ensure that your musical passages are notated in a clear and organized manner.

Chapter 15

Performance Directions

Performance directions guide musicians on how to interpret and play a piece of music.

This section explores performance directions related to dynamics, tempo, and other important terms and signs.

You'll learn how to navigate these markings, allowing you to bring expression and emotion to your musical performances.

American And British Terminology

In this download, you get two copies, one with British terms like crotchets and semitones, and another with US terminology like quarter notes and half steps.

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What Previous Customers Thought

"I love using these study guides with my pupils. Not only informative but laid out very clearly. It works with students of all ages. I’d highly recommend for all teachers and students alike."​

Matt Veria - Teacher, UK

"| really enjoyed using your book. I feel I finally am beginning to understand music theory for the first time. Keep up the good work!"​

Laura Hayes - Student, UK

"Thank you for your excellent resources. I received my results yesterday and achieved 100% on my first exam. Your guides helped me prepare well for my exam, and I was confident and relaxed.

Thank you for your hard work and making music really easy for the rest of us."

Tammy S - Student, South Africa

"A game-changer! The explanations are clear, the examples are practical, and the guide is structured in a way that makes learning enjoyable.

I highly recommend this study guide to any parent or student looking to learn music theory."

Sarah M - Parent, US

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About The Author

Hey, I'm Dan Farrant, the founder of MusicTheoryUniversity.com. I've been teaching music theory for over 15 years now. In that time, I've helped over hundreds of thousands of students navigate the intricacies of this music theory.

I studied my undergraduate at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music. Now, I run this website as well as performing, and teaching all over the world.

From teaching so many students, I've noticed that students face the same challenges when it comes to music theory. So, I've carefully put together this guide to address these challenges, providing a comprehensive resource that guides students through the essential concepts and techniques necessary to succeed in the ABRSM Grade 1 theory exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got Questions? We've Got Answers

What Music Theory Syllabus is This for?

This book is specifically written with the ABRSM Grade 1 Music Theory syllabus in mind. But, it's perfect for beginners and will give a good fundamental knowledge of music theory whether you're taking an exam or not.

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Ready To Master Grade 1 Music Theory?

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Invest in your musical journey today and gain lifetime access to this invaluable resource.

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