Australian Music Examinations Board
Australian Music Examinations Board


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Ask Andrew: What's the difference between Theory, Music Craft and Musicianship?

What's the difference between Theory, Music Craft and Musicianship?

Andrew is the AMEB's Theory guru and works as the Theory Project Officer in the Federal Office.

Theory and Musicianship are quite closely linked up to Grade Four level. Both syllabi focus on Keys and Scales, Intervals, Chords, Time and Rhythm, Transposition, Terms and Signs and Rhythmic Invention but Musicianship tends to introduce Keys, Scales and Intervals at a faster rate than Theory. As Theory progresses there is a greater focus on the creative aspects: Harmonisation, Melody Writing and questions about General Knowledge. At Grade Four level Musicianship introduces an Aural component. This features recognition of scale forms, intervals, triad positions, motion and cadence recognition questions. There are also Time and Rhythm, Expression and Mood and Form questions. From Grade Four to Associate, Musicianship exams comprise a Written and an Aural component. Theory has no Aural component. 


Music Craft was developed to teach the theoretical and aural aspects of music in different ways to Theory and Musicianship. Thus, pitches are described using the Helmholtz system, harmonies are described using a mixture of Roman Numerals and figured bass, cadences are described differently to the Theory and Musicianship syllabi (e.g. Authentic rather than Perfect). Also, terms include German and French words. The teacher guides we publish for Music Craft cover all areas in great detail and include plenty of examples. There are also workbooks for each grade for students to apply what they have learned in lessons. These workbooks include CDs that cover all the aural material. Lessons in Music Craft also include material from all the syllabus areas rather than working through these sequentially on their own. 


So the short of it is: Theory has no aural component but focuses more on the creative aspects of Music Theory as the grades ascend. Musicianship has an aural component from Grade Four onwards but up to that point the two syllabi are quite similar. Music Craft was conceived to provide alternative ways of teaching the theoretical and aural aspects of music and these are introduced right from the start.  


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