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TL;DR I have decent experience in playing a number of instruments and am wondering if I can take grade 5 theory without having taken any theory exam before.

Basically I've been on and off about music for a long time now (played piano and some Chinese instruments, plays bass now for school orchestra) but I never learnt theory properly. I think I have decent knowledge, just can't put a name and structure to things.

I want to take music more seriously now, and plus I don't have any ABRSM practical grades either, so I really need a grade 5 theory to get me going. (I can take grade 7 or 8 double bass easily, but theory is hindering me) I don't have a teacher, but am willing to commit. Is it possible for me to learn all the way til grade 5 myself, and how long would it take?

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A lot of folk just go straight into grade V theory, as a gateway to V+ practical. If you've been playing a while, you must already know a fair bit of theory, maybe unaware of that.

It's impossible to say how quickly you'll do it, but 3 or 4 months may be enough. A teacher will be a boon for some of the more intricate parts, but a large majority can be done alone, and there are good theory example books readily available to explain thngs, and self test.

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Maybe you 'know all that stuff' but have just never formalised that knowledge. Maybe you don't!

Here's your first step. Grab some past papers. Book an hour with a teacher to go through your attempt at one of them. Then you'll know what needs doing next.

http://shop.abrsm.org/shop/prod/ABRSM-Music-Theory-Past-Papers-2015-ABRSM-Grade-5/2235460

  • You can also buy the past answers, and check the answers yourself. – Simon B Jun 27 at 19:38

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