Getting to know: Theory Classes at YMC

In this post Graham Bennett, YMC’s head of theory and composition, answers some frequently asked questions about YMC’s theory classes:

Why take music theory lessons?

“Music theory represents the language from which all music can be fully understood, performed and enjoyed. Learning how a piece is created can enhance one’s enjoyment of recreating a representation in performance, and provide a full awareness of the composer’s intentions. Music is another art form, similar to dance, painting, acting, and even sculpting. Art evolves through time and space, and understanding the theory behind the musical notes, allows us to appreciate and grow with the experience.”

Are the skills students learn in theory transferable to their instrumental lessons?

“All the skills from learning music theory are essential to playing. At YMC the theory classes provide a unique learning experience offering students exciting pathways into understanding why music is written in a particular way, exploring all the ingredients necessary for reading and ultimately representing a musical score through playing.”

How quickly will a student be ready to sit the all important Grade 5 theory exam?

“At YMC we tailor our lessons to support the individual learning styles of all our students, allowing a natural progression of knowledge and build up of skills leading towards successful ABRSM examinations. The ABRSM have changed the way students can sit these exams, and now students can enter anytime, and sit their exam online (grades 1-5) choosing a suitable day and time which works best for them. Our classes at YMC are quite small, and students benefit greatly from sharing ideas and knowledge in a class environment without feeling the pressures often associated with deadlines. Every student is valued, and we all learn at different paces. Allowing time and space for natural growth and understanding is one of the many attributes YMC offers across all classes.”

When do theory classes meet? Do students have the opportunity to work in groups?

The theory classes meet for a half an hour session at different times throughout the Saturday morning from 9-1pm. We always try to organise a complete class for everyone, but when there is a timetable clash, (perhaps an ensemble or choir clash) we always find a way to accommodate every student.

What are the key components of a theory exam paper?

“Theory exams involve a deep understanding of how music is represented in a score, what features are necessary to make a piece playable, and how to interpret a composer’s intentions. Each grade offers a build up of all these essential skills. In our lessons at YMC, each week explores different aspects of the syllabuses, and gradually over time, students can formulate a wider picture of how everything in the musical world connects. This in-depth approach provides an excellent foundation for continued musical growth and understanding.”

How do you go about booking a theory exam? Does YMC host theory exams?

“When the time is right, and a student is ready to book their theory exam, the process is very easy. At YMC we encourage the parents of our students to visit the ABRSM exam board website: and register their son/daughter to sit the exam. All the correspondence from the exam board can then easily be shared directly with parents and students. As teachers at YMC, we prefer parents to make a direct approach with the exam board online as it makes everything much easier for everyone.”

To enrol for theory classes please click here

To find out more please do get in touch