Category: Graded Music Exams

Updated GBD18 Backing Tracks

April 15th, 2019 by

Thanks to feedback from teachers of our latest Guitar, Bass and Drums syllabus, we have decided to update the count-ins at the beginning of the new 2018 Hit Tunes performance pieces.

Instead of just a click count-in, we have included a verbalised count-in which is preceded by the title of the track. Hit play on the video below to hear the difference.

**These count-ins will be used as part of the upcoming exam period.**

To re-download your backing tracks with the new count-ins, simply log into your Rockschool account and use the same download links as previous. If you have ran out of downloads simply call or email us to be given access to the new backing tracks. The updated backing tracks will come at no extra cost if you have previously downloaded the 2018 Hit Tunes.



Latest RSL News – March 2019!

April 2nd, 2019 by

MARCH: Month number three was full of events, with RSL exhibiting at the Music and Drama Education Expo and the UK’s biggest dance event, Move It. We also celebrated International Women’s Day 2019 with a very special interview, kicking off our brand new series: ‘In Tune’.

Period B

The busiest time of the UK calendar is almost upon us and we can’t wait to hear how all the hundreds of new performance pieces will be played. Due to feedback from some schools regarding their Easter break dates this year, we’ve decided to extend the entry deadline until midnight on Sunday 7th April.


Exam Period: 1st of May – 31st of July


Music & Drama

We had a fantastic couple of days over at the Kensington Olympia for London’s Music and Drama Education Expo 2019. As always, it was a great opportunity to engage with teachers, students and organisations from school, colleges and independent hubs all over the UK.

Move It

We were delighted to exhibit at Move It: ‘the worlds biggest dance event’. As some of you may have seen, the huge array of talented performers danced across our Instagram Story all day; confirming that the future of UK contemporary dance is in good hands (and feet!).

Teach ‘n’ Talk

Another first for the month, was the inaugural article for our latest Teach ‘N’ Talk blog-series. MGR Music Editor, Leigh Fuge, opened proceedings with a piece based on an interview he conducted with guitar tutor, Danny Webber, who uses Rockschool’s resources to teach his students based in Bristol.

International Women’s Day 2019

We celebrated International Women’s Day with the rest of the world on the 8th March by releasing our first long-form interview with Estella Adeyeri: bassist of black, female, punk trio, Big Joanie.

The aim of the interview was to kick-start a conversation around the topic of ‘women in the music industry’. It is also the first of a video series set to feature on our YouTube channel, which will tackle a variety of issues surrounding music, in both education and the commercial world.

We have already met with a variety of inspirational, thoughtful people who are passionate about making changes that empower the next generation. If you’d like to suggest anyone you think fits into this role, then please contact us here!

In Tune with… EPISODE 1!

If you have a bit of time, please give the video a watch, like or even a share. Estella supports some wonderful causes that would profit from as much exposure as possible.

Piano & Keys

As many of you are aware, the brand-new Piano and Keys syllabuses were released last month and we are delighted to have received a swell of positive feedback since musicians all over the world have got their hands on the material.

We are hugely grateful for the feedback as it plays a great part in helping us continue to deliver the most valuable material for our customers, ensuring they receive the best possible learning experience, whatever their goals are.

If you would like to share your feedback with Rockschool please contact us here!

Rockschool Piano Book Covers

Rockschool Keys Book Covers

Music Production Coursework Edition: Level 1

We sat down with Rockschool Education Strategy Manager, Dan Francis, to discuss the importance of Music Production in today’s education framework – specifically looking at Level 1 (Grades 1 –3).

Rockschool’s new revision takes the practical element out of the exam and back into the hands of the creator: to be completed in their own time, on any production software, wherever they are.

Big thanks to everyone at Richmond Upon Thames School and Twyford School for taking part. We can’t wait to see how you all get on in the future.

Dealing with Performance Anxiety

Nervous about your upcoming exam? Fear not! 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. You can watch James’ top tips here…

International News

Henriette was back in India this month visiting a host of venues across north and east India including: Dimapur, Shillong, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Kathmandu where she was joined by RSL’s India rep Arup Gohain!

Henriette also delivered presentations between the 4th – 8th March covering the Guitar, Bass and Drums material as well as the newly launched Piano and Keys Syllabuses to teachers and students from all over the region, including Nagaland State and Shillong School of Music.

Top left: Srujanee School of Music (Bhubaneshwar, Odisha) Top right: Teacher Toshimoa Jamir playing a piece from the new Guitar syllabus at GBD, PIANO AND KEYS Launch Event in Dimapur.

Bottom left: owner Rajen at Royal Music, Kathmandu, Nepal with International Business Development Executive Henri Madsen and Business Development Manager, Arup Gohain.

Bottom middle: Meeting with S.M.A.R.T. in Ranchi, music and dance teachers with owner Anup Tigga. Bottom far right: Shillong and Manipur Teachers and senior students with Shillong School of Music owner, Peter Marbaniang (Middle), Henri and Arup Gohain.

Video Contest in Spain

Rockschool Spain ran a brilliant competition this month where students from all across the country were set the simple challenge: record yourself slaying your favourite Rockschool track! Judges included Country Manager, Antonio Olazabal, and RSL Spain rep, Guillermo Sánchez, who announced the winners, who were:

  • Irene Balmaseda from Escuela de Música de Ciudad Real Skinny love by Birdy, Grade 4 Vocals (Top left)
  • Jorge Gash from G. ArtStudios Dark Matter – Rockschool Original from Grade 8 Drums (Top right)
  • Carlos Gonzalez from Rockschool Barcelona Cranial Contraption – Rockschool Original Grade 6 Guitar (Bottom)

A big congratulations to all 3 winners. You can watch each of their performances here…

Setting Pre-Exam Practise Schedules for Students

April 1st, 2019 by

So, the exam is booked, and you’ve gone through all the supporting material with your student. But now the date is approaching fast, and we need to maximise this time to ensure our students get the most out of their practise.

It is often in this time that students might start to feel stressed or anxious about what is coming next. Especially if this is the first exam the student will be sitting.

One of the best ways to help a student ease into the exam is to ensure they are fully prepared with the material. While not all students will be receptive to a strict schedule of practise, for most this will really help. When I prepare students for exams, I like to break the grading down into some subsets. I’m speaking here broadly as a guitar tutor, but this can be applied across other graded instruments too:

  • Technique – Focus on the actual technique level required for the grade. Are you hitting all the notes clean? Is your technique solid?
  • Theory – Knowing any theoretic aspects that the examiner might ask you (Time signatures, keys)
  • Knowledge – Knowledge of what is expected. What chords/scales/rhythms will you be expected to perform.
  • Pre-prepared pieces – This can be the pieces in the book or pre-approved/suitable alternatives.

When you break the content of the exam down into these groups it allows both you and the student to see what areas need the most focus. You might have a student who can play the pieces but may lack in technique. Or a student who excels in technique and performance but struggles with theory.

When it comes to maximising the learning the student does, I always suggest to my students to break their practise down into focused sessions. If the student usually spends an hour a night practising, I would suggest spending that hour split across the topics. It could be an even split involving 15 minutes per topic, but if there is something that needs attention, I would suggest that piece take up more of the allocated time, or even extending the allocated time to allow for extra time on that area.

Breaking it down into focused sessions will allow to the student to focus on that one area rather than trying to view the material as a whole. Before I was a full-time guitar teacher, I came from a background in clinical research working with Learning & Development and one approach to learning complex instructions and processes was to utilise micro learning, learning the same thing multiple times in small batches. If you can apply this principle to practise, doing the same thing for short, focused busts over a few days will yield results quicker than doing it for longer periods but less often.

As the old saying goes… Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

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…

Fact Files: The Killers – Mr Brightside

March 15th, 2019 by

Las Vegas natives, The Killers, will no doubt be grooving their way through ‘Mr Brightside’ as they headline Glastonbury Festival 2019 – sure to be one of the highlights of the summer!


keyboard debut book coverThe indie anthem, which features on our Rockschool Keys Debut Grade and Vocals (Male) Grade 2, was the first single to be released by The Killers. It featured on their debut album Hot Fuss (2004), which many critics compared to the work of new wave and post-punk acts such as Joy Division, Gang of Four, Wire, The Fall, Magazine, and The Cure.

The song was originally released on September 29 2003 and achieved only minor notoriety. It became more popular upon its re-release in 2004, peaking at number 10 in both the US and UK singles charts. ‘Mr. Brightside’ went on to be named ‘Song of the Decade’ by Absolute Radio and XFM, and in April 2010 disclosed that it was the most listened to track since the launch of the online music service, with over 12.2 million plays. It is still one of the top fifteen most downloaded rock tracks ever in the UK.

The Killers have released five consecutive chart topping studio albums and have seven Grammy nominations, three Brit Awards and seven NME awards under their belt (to name but a few). Having sold an estimated 22 million albums worldwide, they are arguably one of the most successful rock acts of the modern era.


Find out more about our Rockschool Keys Grades or head over to the shop to grab your copy.


RSL at the Music and Drama Education Expo 2019

March 13th, 2019 by

 Music and Drama Education Expo 2019

We had a fantastic time exhibiting at the Music and Drama Education Expo on the 6th and 7th March 2019! Some of the RSL team had the chance to share their extensive knowledge and experience as well as engage with teachers, students and others from the music and drama education industry.

Street Dance Warm Up!

The morning started with a Street Dance warm up session with RSL’s Head of Business Development, Patrick Healy and  choreographer and RSL Dance and Musical Theatre examiner Holly Frances Williams. Holly is a credited dancer and business owner having worked with high profile celebrities and world renowned choreographers such as Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, LaVelle Smith Jr , Darrin Henson, Peter Andre and Adam Garcia.

Delegates and fellow exhibitors enjoyed this beneficial session and learnt some useful techniques which are designed to improve performances as well as mentally and physically preparing  dancers and reducing chances of injury.  

Did you catch us our Instagram stories? 

Being Europe’s largest conference and exhibition RSL decided to share highlights of the Music and Drama Expo experience through Instagram stories! It was a great time to engage with some of the delegates and answer all their questions. Ensure to follow us on Instagram to view our stories and highlights of future events!

Competition at the Expo!

We ran a Music Production Competition at the Expo where delegates had the chance of winning a private session with a professional Music Producer where you will explore the various steps involved in making music and the process of  music producing!

We would like to thank everyone who visited the RSL stand and took the opportunity to enter the competition at the Music and Drama Education Expo; We met some very great and talented people! Winner will be contacted shortly by the RSL team.

See you next year!

Did you catch us @ MOVE IT 2019, UK’s biggest dance event?

March 12th, 2019 by

MOVE IT 2019: UK’s Biggest Dance Event!

RSL was excited to exhibit at Move It 2019: the UK’s biggest dance event. Over a fun-filled, energetic three days at Excel (London), we had a fantastic time engaging with as many teachers, thought leaders and young dancers as we could. All aspects of the contemporary dance industry was on show, and being able to share knowledge and support each other made the event a huge success for everyone associated with our own Performance Arts Awards (PAA) in Musical TheatreStreet and Jazz [dance].

We received some fantastic feedback from teachers and course leaders; and especially enjoyed hearing the success stories that exemplify the hard work, and creativity, that we’ve seen so many of you display throughout the years.


We were super excited to announce this years PAA competition! Giving delegates the chance to win to be part of a promotional video for our Performance Arts Awards syllabus by entering their details at the Move It stand! We would like to take a minute to wish everyone who entered the best of luck!  The winner will be contacted shortly.

We hope that you caught all our favourite performances on our Instagram stories! If you’re not already, ensure you follow us on Instagram to catch up with all our stories!

We’ll see you next year!

The RSL Team

Piano & Keys Out Now!

February 22nd, 2019 by

Rockschool is delighted to present: Piano & Keys 2019!

We have completely overhauled our combined Piano & Keys offering to provide a contemporary upgrade for today’s musician, with two separate editions for each instrument: Rockschool Piano and Rockschool Keys

Each grade (Debut – Grade 8) features a varied collection of meticulously researched, specifically arranged tracks from both contemporary (Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Chvrches) and classic (Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin) artists from over the past seven decades. Each collection will also contain compositions from iconic films and musicals, such as: Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pirates of the Caribbean, E.T. and Schindler’s List.

The tracks have been devised for students to learn through the music they love, with repertoire arranged and benchmarked to include the key technical skills required to become a more confident, expressive musician, grade by grade.

Rockschool Piano

Rockschool Piano Book Covers

This realease seeks to both educate the modern pianist, and validate the instrument as an essential tool in the ever-evolving world of popular music.


“The new Piano syllabus for 2019 offers significant advances in our thinking around contemporary piano. We have designed a syllabus that will challenge learners to reach their full potential whilst playing some of the most popular hit tunes from pop, rock, electronica, soul/r&b, funk, musicals and film scores. Technical exercises have been designed to prepare students for the rigorous demands of a modern piano player. As students progress through the grades we hope that the books expand their knowledge of a variety of different genres and techniques, but most of all we hope they grow to love the instrument they are playing.“
Tim Bennett-Hart, Director of Academic, RSL

Rockschool Keys

Rockschool Keys Book Covers

Rockschool Keys contains comprehensive, keyboard-specific arrangements, that utilise varied levels of sound manipulation, patch switching, layers and splits.


“The new Keyboard syllabus for 2019 is Rockshool’s first complete keyboard syllabus. We incrementally challenge learners as music students, whilst playing some of the most iconic, contemporary music from pop, rock, electronical, musicals and film. Technical exercises have been designed to prepare students for the rigorous demands of a modern keyboard player, but also offer the opportunity to study either improvisation or sight-reading. As students progress through the grades, we hope that the books expand their knowledge of a variety of different genres and techniques, but most of all we hope they grow to see the full potential of the instrument they play.”
Tim Bennett-Hart, Director of Academic, RSL (Rockschool Ltd)

Each Rockschool book for Piano and Keyboard Grades include:

  • Six iconic tracks from influential, genre-defining artists, across 7 decades of pop music
  • Fact Files: band/artist bios providing historical context for each track
  • Performance Notes: in-depth guidance based on the demands of each track
  • Technical Exercises and Supporting Tests (explained in separate document provided)
  • Downloadable audio: enabling each student to practise wherever they are

As with all Rockschool Grade Exams, these syllabuses sit within the National Qualifications Framework. Each grade has been benchmarked to ensure the skills and knowledge acquired create logical progression and map across to the levels of musicianship you would hope to achieve at Key Stage 2, 3, 4 and 5 – from secondary school all the way through to college-level education.



RSL @ MOVE IT 2019!

February 19th, 2019 by

Move it 2019: Celebrating all forms of dance and performing arts!

Move it 2019 official logo

RSL will be attending the Move It 2019 – the U.K.’s biggest dance event – from the 8-10th March. The event is a celebration of dance in all its forms; where schools, dance enthusiasts and industry professionals can come together to exchange ideas that best support the needs of the next generation of dancers & performers.


We will be at Move It discussing our PAA (Performing Arts Awards) qualifications, which aim to validate innovation and creativity in Musical Theatre, Jazz Dance and Street Dance, respectively – from Grades 1 – 8 as well as PAA Diplomas which offer three university-level Diplomas in Teaching and Performance.

If you would like to come and say hello or find out more about our Performance Arts Awards we’ll be at Stand 624!

We look forward to seeing you there!

RSL @ Music and Drama Education Expo 2019

February 19th, 2019 by

We’re looking forward to exhibiting at this years Music and Drama Education Expo 2019, Europe’s largest conference and exhibition for anyone involved in music & drama education! See below for full details on our programme.

Day 1

Street Dance warm up with RSL’s Head of Business Development Patrick Healy and choreographer Holly Francis Williams.

  • 6TH MAR 2019
  • 09.30-10.00

An introduction to Street Dance and how it can be incorporated  into your school/college in order to grow and diversify your performing arts provision, create happier healthier students and improve exam results.

[KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4, KS5]

Delegates will:

  • Gain insight into why using popular dance will refresh the Performing Arts sector

  • Discover how to inspire students to help them achieve their academic goals, and explore ways to improve accessibility and diversity in the school

  • Discover ways in which dance can be featured in or integrated into the curriculum

  • Develop ideas for starting a Street Dance class at school/college

Don’t Miss…RSL’s PAA Competition!

Delegates have the chance to win to be part of a promotional video for our Performance Arts Awards syllabus!

Day 2

UK Education Strategy Manager, Dan Francis will be discussing; Developing the 21st Century Musician: Approaches to RSL exams in Music Production and the Contemporary Musician.

  • Contemporary Music and Tech Studio
  • 7 MAR 2019
  • 10.30-11.15

In this practical session, delegates will take specific pieces from the RSL Graded Music Exams, including the new Music Production exams and explore how they can be used to complement and develop the musical learning that takes place within the music curriculum from KS2-5.

[KS2, KS3, KS4, KS5]

Delegates will:

  • Develop an understanding of how to use a musical rehearsal to develop students’ conceptual understanding
  • Expand their knowledge on how to develop music production skills within a large and small group
  • Gain an understanding of the musical skills that can be developed through practical music-making, which is transferable across all musical genres and instruments
  • Gain insight into how to develop an effective co-curricular music programme where music outside the classroom supports music inside the classroom and vice versa


RSL Music Production Competition!


Delegates will have the chance to win a private session with a professional Music Producer where you will explore the various steps involved in making music and the process of  music producing! 

We look forward to seeing you there!