Category: Graded Music Exams

The Rockschool Method: General Musicianship Questions

September 13th, 2021 by

With a firm focus on cohesion and consistency at the forefront of any release, the Rockschool Method is a musical pedagogy that we hope contributes to the production of confident, self-sufficient musicians; empowered with the knowledge and ability to see their musical decisions blossom into authentic musical expression.

The General Musicianship Questions section of the exam gives each candidate the opportunity to dig deeper into aspects of music theory and appreciation, and then consider how to articulate the knowledge gained from each grade into coherent, aural statements. For some, this may seem a little daunting at first, but we promise that each candidate will get a huge amount out of this particular section. Analysis & reflection is an important part of learning in general, so we felt it applied to our exams as much as it should anything else.

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Learning Outcomes

Being able to analyse and reflect effectively also involves linking a current experience to previous learning experiences (a process psychologist refer to as ‘scaffolding’). The later grades may include information that is developed from an idea introduced earlier in the syllabus, which is why we encourage that students work through each grade sequentially. We wouldn’t expect a student to work backwards as far as gaining a grade, but engaging with the syllabus in its entirety will certainly aid the progression to a proceeding exam by negating against gaps of knowledge later on.

Rockschool GMQ’s were included to get students into the habit of linking and constructing meaning from their musical experiences, enhancing the significance of each topic learnt. Reflecting on these experiences also encourages insight and the ability to grasp the more complex methods that are included in later grades. Making this an integral part of our learning rituals also means it is easier to foster our own growth – taking control of our own learning – and breathe confidence into our ability to enter into discussion with others.

GMQ’s equate to 5% of the overall mark, which, despite seeming quite a small amount, could quite easily be the difference between one grade boundary and another. It’s important to remember that one of these questions could be the reason you earn a merit or a distinction, so it’s worth preparing for this section as best you can.

Presentation

The format presented in each grade book will come in the form of four questions on music theory, and another relating to the instrument itself. The detail expected in each answer will be based on particular topics consistent with the syllabus in question. Rockschool Piano, Keys and Ukulele for example, will include one question (per instrument, per grade) on harmony, melody, rhythm, technical application and genre.

Note: These questions have been specifically generated to align with Rockschool’s Performance Pieces, so be mindful when selecting a Free Choice Piece, which may be limited in scope.

Example 1: Rockschool Drums

In this exam, candidates could be asked to identify the notated drum voices that are present within any of the performance pieces chosen for their exam (these are all explained within each grade book). They would also be asked to identify the individual parts of their drum kit (snare, hi hat, ride cymbal etc.). Then, at the other end of the grades – Drums Grade 8, for example – candidates would be asked to identify and explain some of the more complex elements of the notation, which could be in the form of explaining the chosen stylistic approach towards a solo, or the development of a given section within the piece in question.

The knowledge base that Rockschool GMQ’s can engage could be technical, performance-based, aural or visual in nature. The list of topics in each grade book is deliberately broad to ensure that each students preparation includes a wider range of subjects that can feasibly be included in the exam itself. This may seem a bit cheeky once you get out of your exam, but it’s better for you in the long run (and that doesn’t mean that something you’ve learn may not come up later on!). Being in a position to evidence this knowledge when it’s applicable later on should provide a genuinely rewarding experience, hopefully going some way to further building your confidence as a musician.

Example 2: Rockschool Guitar

Having the musical knowledge to be undaunted by any of the potential GMQ’s will always relate to the student’s ability to fully understand each of their performance pieces on their own merits. Fortunately, the required level of detail of this musical knowledge will always be commensurate to what is included at each grade. For example, in ‘Carbon Footprint – Electric Guitar grade 4’ the solo backing only outlines a Gm7 chord with no additional harmony. Therefore, the scale options for soloing over it can remain relatively simple and reflective of the scales within the technical exercises. The backing for the guitar solo within Lead Sheet at Grade 8 outlines a F#m which could appear as a similar level of difficulty. However, to maximise marks at this grade candidates are expected to use more advanced modes and scales, such as the ones present in the grade 8 technical exercises – evidencing what has been digested, specifically at this grade.

Summary

In essence, Rockschool GMQ’s are another progressive platform that helps to develop a greater awareness of what is being played as students’ progress. As the music becomes more complicated, so do the concepts behind them, which in turn must be factored into the questions posed by Rockschool examiners.

At every stage of learning; in every part of a Rockschool syllabus; broadening a students’ musical vocabulary is paramount. We believe it’s beneficial to see each section of the exam – whether it’s in the performance, the technical exercises, sight reading, improvisation, ear tests or GMQ’s – not as isolated, unrelated events; but as a collection of chapters that belong to a whole story.

…and there we have it! If you’re ready to take the plunge then click the link below to enter for your exam today!


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Am I Ready to Take My Rockschool Exam?

August 25th, 2021 by

With autumn fast approaching, we’re looking ahead to the next session of Rockschool exams in the UK and Ireland.

We have a wide range of assessment options available to accommodate all learners, so whether you’re keen to do a face-to-face exam, a recorded digital exam, or live stream digital exam, we have you covered!

For some, it’s hard to know when you or your students are truly ready to apply. This is why we’ve asked guest blogger, guitarist and educator, Leigh Fuge, to explore ‘Am I Ready to Take My Rockschool Exam?’

MusicTeacher.com’s Leigh Fuge explores…

Am I, or my students, ready to take my Rockschool exam? The golden question! What do we consider being ready for an exam? The exam will follow the same structure and contents that would have been covered in lessons using the Rockschool books. So, with that in mind, let’s break it down into a few simple areas:

Technical Knowledge

  • If you get asked to play a particular chord or scale, or variations of this, can you/your student do so without hesitation?
  • Is the chord played cleanly without any wrong notes and its pitching clean and concise?
  • Is the scale played correctly with all notes at an even tempo?

Performance

  • Are you using a performance piece from the book or do you have a pre-prepared one?
  • Can you perform this from memory or comfortably whilst reading from the book/sheet?
  • Can you deliver a confident performance that sounds as close to the original as possible?

Theory/Listening

  • Can you answer a range of listening based questions on time signatures, rhythm and melody without hesitation?
  • Can you replicate different rhythms and melodies from hearing them?

If you can answer yes to all or most of these questions, then chances are you, or your student, are ready to take the Rockschool exam.

For teachers, I would always recommend spending a few lessons running over the content in an exam format as a mock test with students to help them get used to only having one attempt at playing pieces or answering questions.

When preparing for exams, it’s important to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Here is a useful blog I wrote on Recovering from Mistakes During Exams. This will help you and your students prepare for mistakes. Remember, making mistakes does not ruin the exam. Keep calm and focused and you’ll nail it!

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About the Author:

This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MusicTeacher.com by Leigh Fuge, a professional guitarist, tutor and journalist from Wales in the UK. He has been working in the music industry for over 10 years as a touring and studio musician with various artists, guitar tutor and writer for many high profile guitar publications. Read more of Leigh’s pieces relating to Rockschool here…

Rockschool Vocals – an Updated and Expanded Syllabus Launching Soon!

August 6th, 2021 by

Rockschool Vocals is back with an updated, refreshed and expanded syllabus! From Debut through to Grade 8, Rockschool Vocals equips students with the skills needed to succeed in any performance environment.

Containing everything required for a graded music exam, the new grade books include the most diverse and well represented collections of repertoire, with 10 new arrangements of iconic rock, pop, and contemporary pieces from the greatest artists past and present.

No longer split into male and female syllabuses, Rockschool Vocals allows students to experience a broader range of hit tunes and technical exercises, and throughout the grades encourages students to demonstrate vocal excellence. There’s also new piano arrangements to back each piece, making Rockschool Vocals the perfect audition and recital tool!


Want to stand the chance of winning a SAMSON Diaphragm Studio Condenser mic and a full set of Rockschool Vocals digital books for you or your students? Fancy signing up to our launch webinars? Click here to jump down the page and find out more…

Rockschool_Vocals_21_comp


Rockschool Vocals will include repertoire from the likes of Billie Eilish, Queen, Jorja Smith, Harry Styles, Childish Gambino, The Weekend, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Adele, Gregory Porter, Whitney Houston, Foo Fighters, Chaka Khan, Skunk Anansie, Sam smith, Billie Holiday, Steve Wonder, Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Post Malone, John Legend, Tina Turner… to name but a few!*

Alongside the repertoire, all RSL Awards graded music publications include all the technical exercises that candidates need to prepare, and examples of all the supporting tests that candidates may be subject to in their exam.

Technical Exercises


Technical Exercises are required for Graded Examinations and Graded Certificates. In all grades there are three sections to the technical exercises:

  • Scales
  • Arpeggios
  • Technical Studies

Supporting Tests

Supporting Tests are required in Graded Examinations. In all grades there are three sections to the tests:

  • Sight Reading OR Improvisation and Interpretation
  • Ear Tests
  • General Musicianship Questions

Qualifications Available

Like all RSL Awards qualifications we have designed a flexible and fun group of qualifications for students to take. Rockschool Vocals will be able to be taken in three different variations that can help learners adapt their assessment to the form that best suits them. These will be available from Debut – Grade 8, with Grades 6 – 8 carrying UCAS points in all formats.

Graded Exam

Exam Formats: Face-to-face or Live Stream
Number of Pieces: 3
Technical Exercises: Examiner Selection of Scales, Arpeggios/Broken Chords, and Technical Studies
Unseen Tests: Sight Reading OR Improvisation, Ear Test, and General Musicianship Questions

Graded Certificate

Exam Format: Recorded Digital
Number of Pieces: 3
Technical Exercises: All Published Scales, Arpeggios/Broken Chords, and Technical Studies
Unseen Tests: None

Performance Certificate

Exam Formats: Recorded Digital, Face-to-face or Live Stream
Number of Pieces: 5
Technical Exercises: None
Unseen Tests: None

Candidates may choose to play up to five pieces for a Performance Certificate, or three pieces for a Graded Exam/Certificate all from the repertoire lists of another UK Accredited Examination Board.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RSL’S GRADED MUSIC EXAM SOLUTIONS

Exams can be booked via our online booking portal!

Webinars

Our team of experts, led by Dan Francis, will be hosting two webinars in September exploring the upcoming Rockschool Vocals syllabus. These sessions are designed for you to understand the academic rigour at each level of qualification, the rationale behind the syllabus and a breakdown of what students will need to do at each grade with sample repertoire included. There will also be a live Q&A and practical demonstrations of some of the repertoire from one of the lead consultants of the syllabus. Sign up via the form below!

Competition Time!

To stand the chance of winning one of three SAMSON Diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphones and a full set of Rockschool Vocals digital grade books for you or your students, simply fill in the form below. You will also be the first to hear from us when Rockschool Vocals launches in September!

     
    About You (required)

     
    If you teach, what is your organisation's name / school address?

     
    What country are you based in?

     
    Do you want to join our Rockschool Vocals global launch webinars? (required)

     
    Do you use any other RSL Awards qualifications? (Required)

     
    Would you like to sign-up for regular updates via the RSL Newsletter? (required)
    YesNo

     

    *subject to final approval.

    RSL Awards set to launch RSL Classical Violin!

    July 16th, 2021 by

    RSL Awards are proud announce the upcoming launch of a new suite of Grades, from Debut to Grade 8, for Classical Violin!

    Classical Violin will become the second set of qualifications released under the RSL Classical brand, following the well received Classical Piano.


    Want to win the ultimate Stentor violin starter pack and a full set of RSL Classical Violin grade books for you or your student, and sign up to our launch webinars? Click here to jump down the page and find out more…


    We’re building on our commitment to offering classical musicians the most diverse and well represented collection of repertoire. Each Classical Violin grade features 10 tracks encompassing the rich heritage of music from the Baroque period, right through to modern day and emerging composers.

    We have also included two popular music pieces at every grade that are that are benchmarked to the exact same rigorous standards as the classical repertoire. From Debut – Grade 3, a number of duets have been included to aid interaction between the student and teacher. The exemplar recordings and backing tracks (where appropriate) for each of the pieces are included with the book.

    RSL Classical Violin will include repertoire from the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Clara Schumann, Jose White, Le Chevalier de Saint Georges, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Ignatius Sancho, Lili Boulanger, Jean Sibelius, Florence Price, George Friderik Handel, Germaine Tailleferre, Nikki Isles, Bela Bartok, Grazyna Bacewicz, Felipe Gutierrez y Espinosa, Pyotr Ilyrih Tchaikovsky, John Williams, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, The Weeknd Jamiroquai, Clean Bandit, Coldplay and Beyonce… to name but a few!

    DOWNLOAD THE RSL CLASSICAL VIOLIN INDICATIVE REPERTOIRE LIST


    Attending the Music and Drama expo on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th September 2021? Visit us on Stand C40 to discuss this brand new syllabus in person, and attend our Exhibitor Showcases to see the RSL Classical Violin syllabus in action! Learn more here…


    Alongside the repertoire, all RSL Awards graded music publications include all the technical exercises that candidates need to prepare, and examples of all the supporting tests that candidates may be subject to in their exam.

    Technical Exercises


    Technical Exercises are required for Graded Examinations and Graded Certificates. In all grades there are three sections to the technical exercises:

    • Scales
    • Arpeggios
    • Technical Studies

    Supporting Tests

    Supporting Tests are required in Graded Examinations. In all grades there are three sections to the tests:

    • Sight Reading OR Improvisation and Interpretation
    • Ear Tests
    • General Musicianship Questions

    Qualifications Available

    Like all RSL Awards qualifications we have designed a flexible and fun group of qualifications for students to take. RSL Classical Violin will be able to be taken in three different variations that can help learners adapt their assessment to the form that best suits them. These will be available from Debut – Grade 8, with Grades 6 – 8 carrying UCAS points in all formats.

    Graded Exam

    Exam Formats: Face-to-face or Live Stream
    Number of Pieces: 3
    Technical Exercises: Examiner Selection of Scales, Arpeggios/Broken Chords, and Technical Studies
    Unseen Tests: Sight Reading OR Improvisation, Ear Test, and General Musicianship Questions

    Graded Certificate

    Exam Format: Recorded Digital
    Number of Pieces: 3
    Technical Exercises: All Published Scales, Arpeggios/Broken Chords, and Technical Studies
    Unseen Tests: None

    Performance Certificate

    Exam Formats: Recorded Digital, Face-to-face or Live Stream
    Number of Pieces: 5
    Technical Exercises: None
    Unseen Tests: None

    Candidates may choose to play up to five pieces for a Performance Certificate, or three pieces for a Graded Exam/Certificate all from the repertoire lists of another UK Accredited Examination Board.

    LEARN MORE ABOUT RSL’S GRADED MUSIC EXAM SOLUTIONS

    Exams can be booked via our online booking portal!


    Webinars

    Our team of experts, led by Dan Francis, will be hosting two webinars in September exploring the upcoming RSL Classical Violin syllabus. These sessions are designed for you to understand the academic rigour at each level of qualification, the rationale behind the syllabus and a breakdown of what students will need to do at each grade with sample repertoire included. There will also be a live Q&A and practical demonstrations of some of the repertoire from one of the lead consultants of the syllabus. Sign up via the form below!

    • Tuesday 5th October: 16.30 – 18:00 (BST)
    • Wednesday 6th October: 9:00 – 10.30 (BST)

    Competition Time!

    If you’re new to the world of violin, you teach violin, or you just like entering competitions… then we’ve got you covered! To stand the chance of winning a Stentor Student violin, including a hard case, bow, tuner, spare strings, music stand AND a full set of RSL Classical Violin Grade books, simply fill out the form below!

       
      About You (required)

       
      If you teach, what is your organisation's name / school address?

       
      What country are you based in?

       
      Do you want to join our RSL Classical Violin global launch webinars? (required)

       
      Do you use any other RSL Awards qualifications? (Required)

       
      Would you like to sign-up for regular updates via the RSL Newsletter? (required)
      YesNo

       

      Ts&Cs apply: Three prizes available. One prize can be won per person. Prize includes; full set of RSL Classical Violin digital books, Stentor Student Standard Violin, violin case, bow, music stand, tuner and spare strings. Winners will be selected by random and must be based in the UK. Entry deadline is midnight 31st August. Competition winners will be announced in September 2021. We will contact winners directly who will be able to choose violin size (full size, 3/4 size, 1/2 size or 1/4 size).

      Examination Update: COVID-19

      July 16th, 2021 by

      The UK government has announced that Step 4, the final stage of the roadmap for England, will be implemented from 19th July 2021.

      This means that:

      • All remaining limits on social contact will be removed
      • All settings will be able to open, and large events such as concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance
      • Social distancing rules and legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted

      At the same time the Government will be publishing five principles for managing Covid-19 as we learn to live with the virus.

      At RSL Awards, we implemented safety guidance for delivering exams during the pandemic in June 2020, which has proved practical and sustainable. As we move into a post-lockdown environment, we will be retaining this guidance in the form of recommendations. We encourage and expect all candidates, teachers, examiners, and others attending examination venues to continue to adhere to these guidelines whenever practical and feasible, and also to respect the wishes of others regarding social contact and distancing.

      DOWNLOAD THE GRADED MUSIC EXAM SAFETY GUIDANCE

      We remain aware of the different approaches being taken across England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and internationally. Where local requirements mean that certain rules need to be adhered to, we will of course run exams in a way which complies with those rules.

      Some exams are conducted in third-party venues, and it is possible that certain exam sessions may have to be postponed. Candidates will be contacted if their exam is affected and alternative solutions will be made. Please check this page regularly as the situation may change.

      LEARN MORE ABOUT RSL’S GRADED MUSIC EXAM SOLUTIONS

      Dealing with Performance Anxiety

      June 10th, 2021 by

      We want every musician to be in the most positive frame of mind when it comes to performing, especially during their Rockschool Graded Music Exam.

      We recently caught up with life coach and psychotherapist, James Banfield, from The Liberated Mind to provide teachers and students the tools to understand, spot and overcome performance anxiety.

      What is the difference between performance anxiety (stress), and an anxiety disorder?

      The symptoms are very similar but performance anxiety will dissipate once the performance is over, anxiety disorder is an ongoing problem because it is constantly fed by a person’s fearful thoughts. Everyone gets nervous about performing and this is natural. But if someone is feeling constantly anxious, they should seek some professional help.

      What are the physical symptoms of anxiety?

      • Shallow fast breathing or holding their breath.
      • Heart beating faster and harder.
      • The body may shake – especially hands.
      • Becoming tearful or overly emotional over little things.
      • Skin may turn pale – colour drains from their skin.
      • Increased sweating.
      • Dry mouth.

      Coping mechanisms/reactions:

      • Becoming agitated or unable to be still.
      • Freezing or not being able to function.
      • Feeling the need to escape – Running out of the room.
      • Going quiet and shutting down.
      • Using cigarettes or other drugs.

      If you suspect that one of your students is suffering from ongoing anxiety you can find out more by visiting the NHS website.

      5 tips for managing performance anxiety:

      By using these tips as part of the preparation for the exam your students should remain in control and perform at their best.

      • 7: 11 Breathing – When you feel nervous or anxious breath in through your nose for 7 and out through your mouth for 11. The counting engages the logical part of your brain, and deep breathing increases oxygen and signals the body to calm down.
      • Posture – Your physiology will influence your psychology. So, if you stand or sit in a strong confident posture that you will feel more confident.
      • Smile – it might seem forced but smiling releases oxytocin which makes you feel good.
      • Reframe – your feelings don’t know the difference between fear and excitement. So, tell yourself you are EXCITED rather than scared or nervous and it changes your experience.
      • Rehearsal – Mentally rehearse the performance going well (just like a runner imagining winning the race). Your mind doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality.

      The good news is that anxiety disorders can be easily treated and completely cured with the right support. So, if you or a student are suffering you can get expert advice or treatment via The Liberated Mind.

      What to do if you think that a student is suffering with depression

      Depression can be difficult to spot especially in young people because the symptoms can be quite subtle and people are good at hiding how they really feel. There is also the possibility of mistaking grief or loss for depression as many of the symptoms are the same. There is also a big difference between someone feeling down or slightly depressed which is normal and a person that has clinical depression. So, it is important not to start diagnosing or making assumptions.

      Here are some of the signs to look out for if you think that a student could be severely depressed:

      • Becoming quiet and withdrawn.
      • A loss of interest and enthusiasm in the things that they enjoy doing and talking about.
      • A lack of concentration and competence in what they are doing.
      • Looking tired, and moving or talking slower than usual.
      • Being tearful or emotional for little or no reason.
      • Neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene
      • Low confidence and self-esteem – constantly putting themselves down.
      • Having a hopeless attitude or being negative about the future.

      For a more detailed description of the symptoms you can visit the NHS website.

      If you are concerned about one of your students because their mood or behaviour is out of the ordinary you can do the following:

      • Keep an eye on them for a few weeks to see if they improve. It could just be a difficult week.
      • If things continue or get worse you could mention that they don’t seem like their usual self and ask if everything is ok? If they open up just listen and let them speak. They might tell you that a loved one has passed away or their parents are getting divorced, so they are responding how anyone would. This is why it is important to get the facts and not assume.
      • If you are still concerned that it might be depression you can either express your concerns to their parents if they are a minor, or if they are an adult recommend that they visit their GP.
      • They could also do an online self-assessment to see if they should seek professional support.
      • It is important that someone who is depressed gets support quickly. If you leave it the symptoms can get much worse and it can take longer to recover.

      There are different levels of depression which will determine the kind of treatment needed:

      • Mild depression – has some impact on your daily life.
      • Moderate depression – has a significant impact on your daily life.
      • Severe depression – makes it almost impossible to get through daily life; a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms.

      Mild depression could be treated with some simple therapy (CBT, NLP, Hypnotherapy). Moderate depression can be treated with the same types of therapy but they may also need additional medication (anti-depressants). Severe depression will need a specialist mental health care team and treatment plan. Exercise is another great way to relieve the symptoms of depression as it produces natural chemicals that are in the anti-depressants (E.g. serotonin).

      For further advice or treatment, head over to The Liberated Mind where you can contact hypnotherapist & psychotherapist James Banfield.

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      RSL Awards 2021 Graded Music Exams Available To Book Now!

      April 14th, 2021 by

      Achieve your next RSL Awards grade in 2021…

      The next RSL Awards graded music exam period of 2021 kicks off on the 1st June running through to 31st July, so what better way to facilitate your musical progression by earning your next graded music qualification! (Please note: video exams can be taken at any time).

      Rockschool and RSL Classical 2021 exam dates for your diary:

      • Exam Entry Deadline: (30th May 2021) EXTENDED UNTIL 13th JUNE 2021!
      • Exam Period: 1st June to 31st July 2021

      ENTER NOW FOR YOUR RSL GRADED MUSIC EXAM

      Which exam format is best for you?

      Face-to-face Exams

      Join us at your local exam centre! All RSL Awards face-to-face graded music exams are subject to strict safety guidelines. Our thorough safety protocols and procedures are here to stay as the safety of our examiners, candidates, staff and parents remains our number one priority.

      DOWNLOAD THE GRADED MUSIC EXAM SAFETY GUIDANCE

      Digital Exams

      RSL’s digital exam solution! Rockschool and RSL Classical Performance Certificates or Graded Certificates (available at all grades: Debut – Grade 8) can be examined as a digital exam. Wherever you are and however you feel most comfortable, our digital solution shows our commitment to providing the most accessible exam experience possible!

      LEARN MORE ABOUT RSL AWARDS DIGITAL EXAMS

      For more information about our Live-streamed Digital Exams, please email info@rslawards.com

      Free Choice Piece Expansion

      We are still accepting music from other recognised exam boards so you can get the grade that you deserve. Music in genres other than popular music, including classical, which is set for exams of other recognised boards will be automatically accepted as free choice pieces for the equivalent grade (applicable for Piano, Keyboard, Vocals and Acoustic Guitar). These performance pieces will be assessed in the same way as our own repertoire using the published RSL Awards assessment criteria, thus maintaining our high academic standards.

      LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR FREE CHOICE PIECE EXPANSION

      How to book your RSL Awards Graded Music exam…

      Our online exam entry process is extremely simple. Whether you are taking an exam face-to-face or via video, you just need to fill out the online booking form which you can find here…

      ENTER NOW FOR YOUR RSL AWARDS GRADED MUSIC EXAM

      Simply log in (or make an account if you haven’t already!), and follow the step-by-step process, filling in the details about which exam you would like to take. Once you’ve submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email from RSL Awards.

      Once the confirmation is received, you can sit back and relax (and practise!). We will be in contact with you about your face-to-face exam date, or your deadline date for video submission, in due course. We give a minimum of two weeks’ notice before a face-to-face exam but always aim for four wherever possible. An email notification will be sent to the address on the account which made the online entry.

      Want to host a private exam session?

      Rockschool Private Exam Days are hosted at a venue of your choice, enabling your students to sit their Graded Exam in the comfort of a familiar setting, using equipment they are accustomed to. Students often prefer this format due to this familiarity, whilst it also reduces the amount of time spent outside of school. These exams can be done through an examiner visit or alternatively via a live-stream at the venue or direct from the student’s home.

      For teachers, this introduces a higher degree of flexibility as the exam date itself is not limited to specific Exam Periods, like our public examinations. All private centres are given access to discounts on official Rockschool publications, as well as additional resources and support to help make each learners experience as enjoyable as possible.

      Please click here for more information or get in touch via the button below for more information…

      contact an RSL exam officer

      For more information on the RSL Awards exam process, please head over to our FAQs page…

      READ THE RSL AWARDS EXAM FAQS

      Electronic Drum Kit Adaption Guidance – Rockschool Drums

      March 31st, 2021 by

      Adaptions guidance for drummers using an electronic drum kit for their Rockschool Drums digital exams…

      At RSL Awards, we’ve been so excited to see so many musicians adapting to virtual learning and entering exams via video submission. We know that one of the key challenges has been for drummers and making sure their set-up at home is as good as it can be.

      We’ve put together some guidance to help drummers with an electric drum kit make the adaptations needed to ensure they can meet the requirements of our digital exams. Download the guidance and watch our video below…

      Digital Exams – Adaptions for Electronic Drum Kits

      You can also view our guide on how to make sure your audio and visuals are set-up for recording your exam here and we spoke to Alex Forryan about how to set things up so you can continue to have a high quality learning experience online.

      Don’t forget to check out our Practise with Purpose Diary (Video Edition) which gives you all the tips and tricks you need to keep your practice going at home, no matter where you’re having your lessons.

      Rockschool VIdeo Exams

      Quick Tips: Improve Your Improvisation | Guest Blog

      January 30th, 2021 by

      One aspect Rockschool graded exams will assess is your ability to improvise over a pre-selected chord progression by your examiner.

      While this article is written from a guitar playing point of view, you can apply the theoretic and general thought process here to any instrument in any situation.

      This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MusicTeacher.com by Leigh Fuge

      Firstly, what is improvisation?

      Improvisation is defined as a piece of music, drama or other art that is created spontaneously without prior preparation. In the music world, improvisation is often heavily associated with lead guitar playing, however all instruments have the capacity to improvise.


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      While the art of improvisation is based around spontaneity and playing something that you have not prepared prior to that moment, it still has to be contextual to the piece you are improvising with. We still have to be playing in key, selecting the correct notes to improvise with and also approaching it from a stylistic perspective.

      Before I improvise over a piece, I like to make a short checklist in my head that helps me get around the improvisation. I will ask myself some questions to mentally prepare myself without actually knowing what I will play:

      What key is the track in?

      This is obviously important. Without being in key, our improvised lines are not going to sit correctly in the track. In an exam you should be able to work out the key based on the chords given to you by the examiner. Once you’ve worked out what key you are playing in, you can then decide what scales you will be calling on for your playing.

      What style is the track?

      You can also use style to help choose scale types. In the lower graded exams, you will have a smaller pool of scales to choose from and as the grades increase, the scale pool will grow. If you are presented with a simple blues chord pattern in one of the minor keys then you will most likely gravitate towards a minor pentatonic, natural minor or blues scale. If the piece is more jazz orientated, perhaps some modal scales will be better suited. Use your scales to suit your stylistic playing.


      What is the tempo?

      Tempo doesn’t have a bearing on the scale and key choices, but it does have a bearing on the style of playing. If the piece is a slow acoustic style track, then sweep picking 16th notes on the guitar won’t be stylistically correct.

      What sort of artists could this track be likened to?

      Does the track sound like any artists you already know? If so, perhaps you can emulate some of their licks. How would they approach that style? What would they use to play in that way?



      In my own improvisations, I often have a pool of licks in my mind that I call upon. If I’m playing a specific blues style track, I will look for licks in my head that sit with artists that may be similar. These licks are probably not going to work if I’m improvising over a power ballad or a hard rock track. I will adjust my style choices based on this.

      I always think that a good approach to improvisation, especially at an early stage, is to think melodically. Think about singing a melody line and then replicating that on your instrument. Can you hum or sing along with what you’re trying to play? Vocalising lines can be a great way of working out the phrasing you want to use.



      When introducing students to improvisation for the first time, I always tell them to think in a very limited range of notes. Put on a contextual backing track and choose 4 sequential notes from the scale of your choice. Use only those notes to improvise over the track for a set period of time. I encourage the use of techniques such as string bends and legato but sticking within the construct of only 4 notes.

      Limiting yourself to a small number of notes make you really focus on the phrasing and how you can use a small number of notes in so many different phrasing combinations.

      Try it, you’ll be surprised at less being more.

      Improvisation at a more advanced level can be a great platform to trial combining scales. If there are a few scales you want to combine, the best place to start is to overlay similar scales. For instance, the minor pentatonic and natural minor scales on guitar are similar shapes. Try improvising with a hybrid of these two shapes at the same time.


      About the Author:

      This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MGR Music by Leigh Fuge, a professional guitarist, tutor and journalist from Wales in the UK. He has been working in the music industry for over 10 years as a touring and studio musician with various artists, guitar tutor and writer for many high profile guitar publications. Read more of Leigh’s pieces relating to Rockschool here…