Teaching resources

Music Theory Syllabuses: What's the difference?

AMEB Federal Office

Learn about the differences between our four music theory syllabuses so you can choose the right syllabus for your needs.

If you're preparing to enrol in a music theory exam, one of the first decisions you'll have to make is: which syllabus should I choose? We offer four types of music theory exams, so you're bound to find a syllabus that suits your needs. But what are the differences? 

The music theory syllabuses we offer are Theory of Music, Musicianship, Music Craft, and Rockschool Popular Music Theory

The first three of these are closely aligned with AMEB practical exams - exams from these syllabuses can be used to fulfill Additional Requirements for higher (Grade 6+) practical exams. Rockschool Popular Music Theory is perfect for anyone interested in music theory in contemporary styles, and is the ideal companion to a Rockschool practical exam.

For more information on Theory of Music, Musicianship or Music Craft, see the relevant syllabus in the Manual of Syllabuses. The syllabus for Rockschool Popular Music Theory is available for free on the AMEB Rockschool website.

We also have a page all about our written and online theory exam options.

Before you sit your official exam, take a look at our selection of real past exam papers to help you prepare.

Theory of Music

  • Grade 1 - 6, plus AMusA and LMusA
  • Covers keys, scales, chords, rhythm, transposition, terms and signs
  • Focuses on creative aspects (such as harmonisation and melody writing)
  • Does not include aural tests
  • At diploma level, specialise in Musicology, Harmony & Counterpoint, or Orchestration & Arrangement
  • Learn using our Integrated Course and Workbooks, or Online Courses


  • Grade 1 - 6, plus AMusA and LMusA
  • Covers keys, scales, chords, rhythm, transposition, terms and signs
  • Similar content to Theory of Music, but introduces keys and scales at a faster rate
  • Includes aural component from Grade 4 onwards

Music Craft

  • Preliminary - Grade 6
  • Covers rhythm and metre, scales & keys, form, chords, articulation and timbre
  • Pitches, harmony and cadences are described differently to Theory of Music/Musicianship
  • Includes an aural component and Set Works across all Grades
  • Learn, or teach a class using our Student Workbooks & Teacher Guides (for Preliminary - Grade 4)
  • Prepare for Grade 5 and 6 using our Essential Exercises books

Rockschool Popular Music Theory

  • Debut, Grade 1 - 8
  • Covers music notation, popular music harmony, band knowledge and band analysis
  • Does not include aural tests
  • Tailored towards those learning guitar, bass, drums, keyboards/piano and singing in contemporary styles
  • Learn and practice using the Rockschool Popular Music Guidebooks and Workbooks


Ready to enrol?

Let us walk you through how to enrol in your next exam.

Music Theory Syllabuses: What's the difference?
The difference between our music theory syllabuses and how to choose the right one.
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