Teaching and resources for English and Music

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Mediant Studies


This course is planned to prepare students to sit the ABRSM (Royal Schools) grade 6 examination.

All questions in the exam (including all options) are covered in the course.

The course includes notes on texture and mood, and particularly music history (from 1600 to 1900), which students need to know about to answer questions 4 and 5 in the exam. These topics are not covered directly in the ABRSM Grade 6 Theory Workbook, the AB Guide to Music Theory, or Music Theory in Practice Grade 6, which are devoted mainly to composition or arrangements (particularly harmonisation) and scoring.

The course also includes suggestions of music illustrating the styles of the various periods, genres styles and composers reflected in the analysis questions in the examination.  You can listen to these - and if you wish, follow the scores - on the internet.

The material is supplied in the form of electronic files (mainly pdf, doc and jpg).  In the Harmonising Melodies module there are also some midi files so you can listen to musical examples.  When you study chords or key changes or notes of melodic decoration, you will then not only see them written on a score, but you will also hear what they sound like.  This should help you understand the effect they have on the music, and why they are important.

In the course you will learn how to write melodies, including melodies that modulate (change key).  You will also learn how to harmonise melodies (choose chords that will accompany the melody effectively).  You learn to relate the three main ways of notating chords - jazz/guitar symbols, extended Roman numerals, and figured basses, and how to create a "figured bass", the only one of these methods used in the early eighteenth century.  You are introduced to dominant and secondary seventh chords, and you learn when to use first and second inversion chords. You learn about notes of melodic decoration (such as suspensions and anticipations), which do not fit the chord but make the tune more interesting.  You learn how to read and comment on short passages from music scores.  There is also a revision section in which you can revise basic facts and memorise musical terms  that you may need to use, explain or refer to in the exam.

For most assignments, you will need to print the file, write your answers on it, and then either post it, or scan or photograph it then email it  It will be emailed to you with  explanations of why any answers were wrong and suggested improvements.

This course is spread over six modules.  (Click on each title for more details.) 

  1. Writing melodies (learning how to structure an 8-10 bar melody, with or without change of key)

  2. Harmonising melodies (learning strong chord progressions, how to recognise non-harmony notes)

  3. Realising figured basses  (You are given a figured bass, to which you "realise" - write out the chords as a keyboard player might play them or a choir might sing them.)

  4. Writing figured basses (You are given a melody to which you add a bass line and figures to show which chords should be used to accompany the melody.)  

  5. Studying scores (You learn how to read musical scores, and answer questions showing that you understand them.  The score is not long - it is usually one or two pages from a piano piece, song, or a movement for orchestra.)  There are simple explanations of particular styles (such as Classical) or composers (such as Debussy) that you might have to recognise, often with pictures so you can see how musical styles are reflected in paintings, sculpture and architecture.

  6. Revision (There are lists of terms that you need to know, with a short translation, explanation or description of each term.  There are also summaries of ornaments, methods composers use, and main features of music of the main four historical periods, from Baroque to modern, including major composers, with suggestions of music to listen to.)

Modules can be taken one at a time, as long as they are taken in the order in which they are listed above, as later modules build on earlier ones.

Candidates wanting to sit the paper do not have to have any previous qualifications.   However you are advised not to take the course unless you have time to do the work, and have passed grade 5 theory, or you may find you need to sit the examination more than once before passing it.  At the very least, you should familiar with the following topics:

Do not enrol for the course unless you are familiar with these topics. 

You can order worksheets on any or all of these topics, work through them on your own, 
and, if you wish, email them for comment. 
Details are on the Intermediate Outline page.

If you wish, before you take the exam, you can arrange to answer questions from sample or specific past examination papers and email them for comment.  The fee is $NZ16 per question, or $NZ65 for a complete paper.  You will be given detailed suggestions as to how you can improve your answers to gain better marks.

Grade 6 is quite a big jump above grade 5.
 Most students will need to allow at least an hour each week to finish the course in one year.

You may need more time if you have not passed a theory exam at grade 5 level recently.

You do not have to take the whole course at once:  you can complete one module at a time, as long as you do them in the order in which they are listed above. 

Prices depend on whether you want just to order files, to work through by yourself or with your own teacher, or to register to take a module or a whole course.  If you register for all or part of the course, you can ask questions about the files you are sent, work through the assignments, send the assignments in for comments, and if necessary ask questions about the comments. 

Click here to order some or all files.
Click here to register for all or part of the course

Prices are listed in the files that you will download from these pages. 

As a special offer, all six modules can be taken for a total of only $225.

In some cases you can arrange to "mix-and-match" - order a group of files, but send only some of them in for comment.

All sections have exam-type assignments.  When you have done these, you may if you wish send in answers to past papers since 2012.  The fee for marking these is $16 per question, $70 per paper. Alternatively, you can order sets of past papers and sets of model answers from Piano Traders in Auckland or ABRSM in the United Kingdom.

You should check out the regulations before registering for all or part of the course.

Please contact us if you need any more information.

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