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In the Trinity Grade 3 Music Theory Exam, you might be given a short piece of music with about 5 deliberate mistakes in it. You need to rewrite the whole melody correctly on the given stave.

In the ABRSM Grade 3 Music Theory Exam, you will need to pay attention to notation when selecting your answers. Often an answer is incorrect because the notation is incorrect.

The kinds of mistake you need to look for include:

  • Wrongly placed clef
  • Wrongly placed sharps/flats in the key signature
  • Upside down time signature
  • Symbols, (e.g. pause mark) on the wrong side of a note
  • Accidentals placed on the wrong side of the note
  • Accidentals placed on the wrong line/space
  • Stems pointing in the wrong direction

The following passage contains five deliberate mistakes. Can you find them all?

music with notation mistakes

The five mistakes in this passage are:

  • The clef is in the wrong position (the curly middle bit needs to circle the G line)
  • The time signature is upside down
  • In bar 1, the sharp is on the space for A, instead of on the line for B.
  • In bar 2, the quaver G should have its stem pointing upwards (because it’s below the middle line of the stave).
  • In bar 4, the pause symbol is upside down. (Pauses are written that way up if they are written under the stave.

If you are going to re-write the music with the errors corrected, here are some tips:

  • Find all the mistakes BEFORE you start writing out the melody!
  • Write the notes directly underneath the originals, so that you don’t run out of space.
  • Use a ruler to draw note stems and beams.

Here is the same melody, rewritten with the mistakes corrected:

notation errors corrected

Spotting Errors Exercises

Hover your mouse over the questions (tap on mobiles) to reveal the answers.


Each passage below contains 4 deliberate mistakes. Rewrite the melody correctly on the given stave.



grade 3 music theory - finding deliberate mistakes
finding deliberate mistakes, grade 3 music theory