Engaging, fun and educational books on music



A Clear and Engaging Interactive eBook to support ‘Grade 5 Music Theory’ Prep Starting with the Basics

‘Grade 5 Theory’ is a written qualification frequently sought in the UK and elsewhere.  It is often a pre-requisite for the music student who wishes to move on to the more advanced levels of practical instrumental or singing exams.  The interactive eBook 'Keys to Music Theory 1’ lays the foundations of the Grade 5 Theory exam requirements, taking the student from the basics of stave, symbols, rhythm and pitch, through key structure, scales and intervals, and on to a comprehensive knowledge of pulse, time and advanced notation.   

'Keys to Music Theory 1' is full of clear and concise explanations, backed up by hundreds of visual and sound files, fun interactives and animations, to keep the reader engaged.  It further adds to the student’s exam preparation and readiness by supplying study cards and also a vast number of quiz questions, offered in small chunks both within and at the end of each chapter, to help them in their practice and to measure their progress and understanding.  

Notation Question Type A

The first question in a Grade 5 theory exam will often deal with the understanding of notation, and will test the candidate, in part, on their knowledge of the duration of the notes and rests on the stave. 

One type of question will ask the candidate to place bar-lines into a melody, making sure that each bar ends up containing the correct overall amount of time,  according to the time signature that is in place.


For instance, example a) is a melody with a time signature, but with no bar lines.  The candidate has to consider 2 elements in order to place the bar lines correctly. 


Hints and tips… on how to answer some Grade 5 level questions, using the eBook 'Keys to Music Theory 1'.  The page numbers below will be in the order Apple (Android)

Element 1: The first of the two tasks in this element is to identify the duration of each note and rest:

  • Pages 32 and 33 detail the note symbols, and durations, described as ‘counts’.


  • Page 34 contains an eye-catching diagram which shows the relationships between the different notes, ie. how many quavers / eighth notes you can fit into a crochet / quarter note, and so on. 


  • Pages 37 and 38 detail the symbols and durations (as ‘counts’) of the rests.


  • Page 41 deals with ‘dotted notes’.


  • Page 42 contains a notation quiz so that the reader can test their understanding.


Example b) has the time value of each symbol written below it - this should be done in pencil, as it must later be erased.



The second task is to gather the notes and rests into groups, each totalling 1 count (the value of a crotchet / quarter note) - see example c).  Note the pencilled phrase-markings and numbers for easy reference. 


Element 2: 

When the time value of each note and / or rest  has been identified, and the notes and rests have been gathered into tidy groups, it is time to consider the ‘time signature’.


  • Pages 187 to 209 contain comprehensive explanations of time signatures.


  • Page 196 identifies the time signature of 3/4 (the one given here) as indicating that there will be a total time value equal to 3 crotchet / quarter note beats in each bar. In 3/4 time the upper number is 3, indicating there will be 3 beats in the bar, and the lower number is 4, indicating that the beat will be a crotchet / quarter note.

The final step is to count, starting at the first note, and place the first bar line after the 3rd beat, and so on.   Note that the rests must always be included in the counting.

Example d) now has the bar lines in place. 


When the bar lines are in place, and checked as being correct, the pencilled phrase marks and numbers can be erased.  Example e) shows the finished line of music, and the 'Question' is now complete. 


Notation Question Type B

A candidate could be asked how many shorter-duration notes might be played  within the same time frame as a single longer-duration note.  

For instance, using the extract below:

How many demisemiquavers / 32nd notes could be played within the time it takes to play the two tied notes marked with an arrow?  


The ‘working out’ 


page 41 contains 2 ‘learn more’ buttons.  The lower button explains the ‘tie’: what it looks like and also its function. 


page 32 and 33 detail the note symbols, names and durations.  Here you will find the semiquaver / 16th note and the crotchet / quarter note, the two notes that have been tied together. 


page 34 contains a diagram showing the relationship between the notes, ie. How many quavers / eighth notes you could play in the same time-span as a single minim / half note.




The first note is a semiquaver / 16th note - this has an equal time value to that of 2 demisemiquavers / 32nd notes.


The second tied note is a crotchet / quarter note - this has an equal time value to that of 8 demisemiquavers / 32nd notes.





2 + 8 = 10 




10 demisemiquavers / 32nd notes  

Notation Question Type C

A candidate might be asked for the name of the shortest rest in the melody…

For instance, using the example below:

What is the name of the shortest rest in the extract?


The ‘working out’ 


page 37 and 38 contain the rest symbols and durations. 


This extract contains 4 rests of differing length - which is the shortest, and what is its name?  


The shortest duration rest is the ‘diagonal stem with the two hooks attached’ in the second bar.



Bonus information


The number of ‘hooks’ on a rest corresponds exactly with the number of ‘tails’ on a note of the same time value and name. 


The more tails or hooks on a note or rest, the shorter the time value.



semiquaver / 16th note rest 

There is likely to be at least one question in a Grade 5 Theory exam that requires the candidate to identify the technical name(s) of one or more notes, having first (and always) been informed of the key of the extract.  

Taking the example below:

Technical Name Question

Type A

The extract is in C major.  Give the technical name (eg. supertonic) of the note identified by the arrow. 


The ‘working out’ is in 3 stages





Find the letter-name of the note in question. 


page 45 contains the mnemonics for the pitch letter-names.

Beware - this extract is written in the bass clef.


page 49 deals with ledger lines.

page 56 contains a quiz to test your understanding of 'ledger-line' pitch.

 …The note name is F.

Match the note letter name to its degree position in the scale of the key of the piece - in this case 'C Major'. 


page 102 contains the ‘Major scales' interactive.

Tap on the C Major ‘ascending' tile on the left, to see the scale on the right.


At the bottom of the visual, under each note, is the note letter-name and the degree number that goes with it for that scale.

 …  F is the 4th degree of the scale of C.


Match the degree number (4) to the technical name.  At the foot of the same column of information is the technical name of the note. 

 …  The 4th degree of a scale takes the technical name ‘subdominant’.



Digging more deeply… 


The route given here is quick and the answers are easy to find.  However, in an exam setting, the candidate might need to find the degree number and technical name of any note in any scale, from scratch, and of course without the ebook.  


This will require them to understand fully the connection between the letter names and the degrees of a scale, and also the connection between the degrees of the scale and the 7 technical names with which they are associated.

page 78 explains ‘scale’. 


pages 79 & 80 explain the ‘degrees’ of the scale. 

pages 100 & 101 explain the ‘technical names’.