Grade 2 Music Theory Summary

Grade 2 Music Theory Summary

Grade 2

This summary will include everything you need to know for grade 2 music theory.

There will be some things in here that do not appear in lessons as you will be expected to know them from grade 1. It may require more in-depth knowledge in grade 2, but nothing that you can’t learn in this summary if you have done the relevant lesson in grade 1.

I recommend after checking you are comfortable with everything in this summary, completing either grade 2 past papers or going through the grade 2 summary questions (still a WIP).

Ledger Lines

Your knowledge of the musical alphabet and names of notes should be extended to knowledge of notes with up to two ledger lines, above and below the staves, in both clefs:

Grade 2 Music Theory Ledger Line Notes

Additionally, you should be able to transpose notes up or down an octave within the same clef, and if necessary transpose an entire piece, as below:

Transposition of Octave

Finally, for grade 2 music theory you should be able to keep rewrite the same melody in a different clef using your knowledge of ledger lines.

Change of Clef

If you need a refresher, look at the Ledger Lines in Music lesson to help you learn about them.

New Time Signatures

You should now be familiar with four new time signatures: 2/2, 3/2, 4/2 and 3/8.

Additionally, for grade 2 music theory you need to know and understand the concepts of duple, triple and quadruple time. As such, this table shouldn’t introduce any new concepts:

Time SignatureBeats Per BarType of Time
22 Time SignatureCut Time2 Minim Beats per barDuple Time
24 Time Signature2 Crotchet beats per barDuple Time
32 Time Signature3 Minim beats per barTriple Time
34 Time Signature3 Crotchet bears per barTriple Time
38 Time Signature3 Quaver beats per barTriple Time
42 Time Signature4 Minim Beats per barQuadruple Time
44 Time SignatureCommon Time4 Crotchet beats per barQuadruple Time

Finally, you should be able to answer three questions about time signatures: You should be able to add bar lines accurately to a given excerpt; be able to add time signatures to a given excerpt, and rewrite a piece in a different time signature.

You can learn about the time signatures in the lesson Quadruple, Duple and Triple Time, and can get a walk through for some of the questions you need to answer in the lesson Answering Time Signature Questions.

Minor Keys and Scales

The concept of minor keys and scales was introduced, alongside the keys A minor, E minor and D minor.

There were three minor scale variations that you need to know, natural minor, melodic minor and harmonic minor:

E Natural Minor

E Natural Minor

E Melodic Minor

E Melodic Minor

E Harmonic Minor

E Harmonic Minor

As always, be sure to check the clef before hand!

You should be familiar with the scale degrees of these new keys from the grade 1 lesson on scale degrees, the concept of which is nothing new really.

Finally, you should also know how to create and recognise tonic triads and arpeggios using the new keys.

The lesson on the Minor Scale will be helpful if this is unfamiliar to you.

New Major Keys

There were three new major keys introduced for grade 2 music theory. These are A Major, Bb Major and Eb Major, the key signatures for these are below.

New Major Keys

You might be tested on your knowledge of their scales (in either clef), and be expected to mark out any tones or semitones that occur in them as well as the scale degrees for them. The lesson on new major keys didn’t include this as the lessons within grade 1 on the major scaletones and semitones, and scale degrees will give you the knowledge needed to cover it to know and understand these concepts.

Lastly you will be expected to know the arpeggios for these three major keys, as well as their tonic triads.

The three major keys are covered in the lesson New Major Keys.


Finally, you need to be sure of your knowledge of the intervals from the tonic covered in grade 1.

At this stage you need to be able to identify intervals from the tonic in all of the keys we know so far, including the minor keys.


We haven’t covered this in grade 2 lessons as the grade 1 lesson should give you enough knowledge to identify the intervals in the new keys.

Triplet Notes

In grade 2 music theory you need to know about triplet notes:

Triplet Examples

You should recognise how they are normally three notes in the time of two, and how all three variations above are triplet notes.

The lesson on triplet notes will improve your understanding of these.

Foreign Terms

Finally, like in grade 1, you once again need to learn some foreign terms.

They are all listed here. As always it is best to learn them early. I provide some free resources for learning them which will hopefully make it easier and more fun.

Music Theory in Practice Book

The music theory in practice book is a good buy if you have any issues around grade 2 or need extra practice.

All the music theory in practice books are highly recommended. In my opinion, they provide all the exercises and explanations or all the concepts needed for grade 2 music theory. If you can complete grade 2 music theory questions and past papers and get them consistently right, it is obviously not necessary to purchase the book. I’d recommend buying it if you want some extra lessons or to really cement your knowledge. You can buy it here. 

The links on this page will lead you to amazon. I ask that if you do purchase the book, you buy it using these links as it will provide some extra income for the website, which is essential for keeping the current content free of charge and allowing the upkeep of the website.