If you are currently studying music at a college or school, you will know that The Associated Board (ABRSM) Grade 5 (Theory) has a special importance for all music students, who must achieve this standard before they can progress to the higher Grades in the ABRSM instrumental exams. This, alone, makes theoretical study an absolute must. If such is your aim I will ensure that you succeed in all grades leading to, and including, grade 5 itself. Then, should you wish, I will take you through to "degree" level.


Some music students are uncomfortable with the term theory, because they have an impression of a set of mechanical rules and regulations that must be adhered to. It is even thought - in some quarters - that knowledge of theory actually restricts the creative flow!

Nothing could be further from the truth. Music theory is not a restrictive influence; it is the foundation that gives musical imagination the widest possible scope for emotional expression.

The more theory you internalise, the more inventive your playing becomes. In other words; the more you know, the better you play.

You can certainly ignore music theory if you wish, and your innate musical sense will still allow you to create something that works. But if you take time to understand the structures, your options will expand accordingly and you will move on to richer, more original, more satisfying creations.

Ideally, theory should be studied separately from an instrument. The reasons for this are many and varied. Normally, however, as I teach an instrument, I will include whatever theory is necessary to that hands-on skill.

In improvisation, knowledge of key signatures/chords should be fundamental. Below is a short exercise you might like to try.

Hover over - or tap - the boxes to see what should have been in your mind the instant you saw the pictures. If the answers spring readily to mind you probably do not need jazz theory lessons. If all of this is a mystery to you, don't worry: it will all become clear as you progress. This skill will be taught in small packages.

7sharps 3sharps 5flats 2flats 5sharps 3flats 1flat 2sharps 6flats 4sharps 1flat 4flats 4flats 5flats A G

And, significantly more advanced...
A Aflat cflat cflat