Classical Guitar Grade 6

The Grade 6 Classical Guitar exam is for candidates who have reached the first stage of advanced level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 5 and have since developed appropriate technique, expressive devices, rhythmic complexity, coordination and musical understanding. Candidates will have increased extent of individuality, enhanced stylistic awareness and there is an option to demonstrate assured and articulate improvisation. Candidates will demonstrate a good understanding of form and structure with clear musical communication.

There are two main types of exam available at Grade 6, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face or live-streamed exam or submitted as a recorded digital exam.

Exam Times

Grade Exam: 30 minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 6

  • Performance Pieces
  • Technical Exercises
  • Supporting Tests

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Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Guitar Grade 6 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 5 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally arranged and recorded backing tracks.

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Classical Guitar Grade 6 Book Cover

Exam Structure

There are two main types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face exam or digital exam. Learn more about our face-to-face exams, recorded digital or live stream digital exams here...

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces
(two of which may be Free Choice Pieces)
Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises firstThese account
for 60% of the
exam mark
Technical Exercises
Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises firstThese account
for 15% of the
exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation.Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and performThis accounts
for 10% of the exam marks
Ear TestsCandidates respond to one melodic recall test.These account
for 10% of the
exam marks
General Musicianship QuestionsCandidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performedThese account
for 5% of the
exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only
(three of these can be Free Choice Pieces)
These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Performance Pieces

The performance pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate, and are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

RSL Classical Guitar Grade 6: Featured Repertoire

  • Celso Machado – Xaranga do Vôvô
  • José González – Heartbeats
  • Seal – Kiss From a Rose
  • From Toy Story – You’ve Got a Friend In Me
  • Naoko Ikeda – Moonlight Rose
  • Agustín Barrios – El Sueño de la Muñequita
  • Yvonne Bloor - Promise
  • Julio Salvador Sagreras – Maria-Luisa (Mazurka)
  • Florence Price – The Deserted Garden
  • Frantz Casseus – Romance (1978)

Technical Exercises

There are three groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies. All are to be played unaccompanied. The tempos given for the scales and arpeggios are the recommended minimum tempos for this grade.

Group A: Scales

Major and Minor Scales

Scale: Ab and Eb major
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando or Apoyando (examiner choice), fingers only.

Scale: C# and G# Melodic Minor; C# and G# Harmonic Minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando or Apoyando (examiner choice), fingers only.

Chromatic Scales

Scale: Chromatic Scale starting on C
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando or Apoyando (examiner choice), fingers only

Harmonised Scales

Scale: D major in 3rds, F major in octaves, E harmonic minor in 6ths
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Group B: Arpeggios & Broken Chords

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed in even quavers, without over-ringing.

Major and Minor Arpeggios

Arpeggio: Ab and Eb major
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers.

Arpeggio: C# and G# minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers.

Dominant Seventh Arpeggio

Arpeggio: Bb Dominant Seventh
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers.

Broken Chords

Candidates are to prepare all of the following to be performed as shown in the grade book with over-ringing.

Broken Chord: Exercise 1 (E minor) and Exercise 2 (A Major)
To be performed as shown in the grade book
Tempo: Crotchet = 112
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Group C: Technical Study

Candidates are to perform one of the three technical studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared.

Supporting Tests

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which one they wish to choose before commencing. Once the candidate has decided they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which one they wish to choose before commencing. Once the candidate has decided they cannot change their mind.

The sight reading test will be up to twelve bars long, in one of the following keys:

  • G major or E minor
  • F major or D minor
  • D major or B minor

Process

The examiner will give the candidate a previously unseen test to be performed unaccompanied. Candidates will have 90 seconds to prepare, after which the examiner will ask the candidate to commence the test.

While the test is not played to a metronome click, candidates may ask to hear the minimum tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear a few seconds of the tempo on a metronome before the assessed part of the test begins.

Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation

Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression to improvise either single-note melodies or a chordal accompaniment (candidate choice) to complement the backing track. The chord progression will meet the following criteria:

  • A repeated 8-bar blues in C minor or C# minor, containing occasional non-diatonic chords.
  • A 16-bar test in a contemporary genre (pop, soul, rock etc.) in Eb major or E major, including II–V–I progressions and occasional secondary dominant chords.

Process

Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout the practice time or a 1-bar count in at the beginning. After the practice time, the backing track will be played twice. Candidates can rehearse during the first playthrough, before performing their improvisation over the second playthrough. Only the improvisation over the second playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with a 1-bar count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count in to the second playthrough will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade.

Test 1: Melodic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar melody using the Eb major scale or the C# harmonic minor scale. The examiner will state the key before the first playthrough of the test. The first note of the melody will be the root note or the fifth, and the first interval will be either ascending or descending. Candidates will play the melody back on their instrument.

The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one-bar count-in. There will be a short gap to practise. Next will be a vocal count-in and candidates will then play the melody to the metronome click.

The tempo is crotchet = 90.

Test 2: Harmonic Recall

The examiner will play a tonic chord followed by a four-bar chord sequence in the key of D major played to a metronome click. The sequence will be drawn from the I, IIm, IIIm, IV, V and VIm chords and may occur in any combination. Chord V may be a major chord or a dominant 7th chord. Candidates will be asked to identify the chord sequence, stating the progression either with the chord names (e.g. D, Em) or numerals (e.g. I, IIm).

Each time the test is played the sequence is: four clicks, tonic, four clicks, chords. There will be a short gap to prepare after the second playthrough of the test. Candidates will then be asked to state the chord progression.

The tempo is crotchet = 90

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam the candidate will be asked five questions, divided between two topics as detailed below.

Music Knowledge

At Grade 6 candidates will be asked four questions based on their choice of a piece of music they have played in the exam. The questions will be drawn from the following:

  • explain the meaning of any tempo marking on the page
  • identify the key signature and give the relative major or minor key of the piece
  • identify any pitches found on the score, as selected by the examiner
  • identify rhythmic values (notes and/or rests) from any rhythmic values found on the score, as chosen by the examiner
  • identify and explain any expressive markings found on your score, as chosen by the examiner
  • give a brief explanation and demonstration of either the stylistic or technical considerations in preparation of the chosen piece

General Music and Instrument Knowledge

At Grade 6 you will be asked to do one of the following:

  • state the chord progression of a perfect cadence in the key of C major or F major, as chosen by the examiner
  • state the chord progression of an imperfect cadence in the key of C or F major, as chosen by the examiner
  • explain how to execute a natural harmonic

(Note: Demonstrations are acceptable to support an explanation, but must have the spoken understanding).

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandDistinctionMeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range18–2015–1712–146–110–5
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understandingall of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & ExpressionConsistently convincing projection of the music.Mostly convincing projection of the music.Some convincing projection of the music.Music not convincingly projected.No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range13–1511–129–104–80–3
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understandingall of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range9–107–863–50–2
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range9–107–863–50–2
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range5 correct responses4 correct responses3 correct responses2 correct responses0–1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment BandDistinctionMeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range18–2015–1712–146–110–5
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & ExpressionConsistently convincing projection of the music.Mostly convincing projection of the music.Some convincing projection of the music.Music not convincingly projected.No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Additional Information

Fingering

Any fingering annotation is given as a guide only, and will not be assessed.

Interpretation

Notation should be performed as written, except where there are performance indications to ad lib., improvise, develop, etc., or where candidates choose to embellish or rework any sections of the piece (for example, personalised solos). In these instances, the candidate will be marked on their ability to present the personalised material in a stylistically appropriate way, commensurate with the grade level. All performances will be expected to have a clear basis in the notated material.

Adaptation and Personalisation

Candidates should perform pieces as notated, except where they choose to embellish or rework any sections. In these instances, as well as where there are performance indications to improvise and/or develop, candidates will be marked on their ability to present the personalised material in a stylistically appropriate way, commensurate with the grade level. All performances will be expected to have a clear basis in the notated material.

Fingering and bowing indications are given as guidance only — only the resulting musical outcome is assessed. Unless stated, ornamentation is given as a guide and is open to stylistic interpretation. A small degree of adaptation is allowed where, for example, hand stretches do not facilitate the required notated parts.

Marks may be deducted if adaptation results in oversimplification of the notation. If in doubt you can submit any adaptation enquiries to info@rslawards.com. Note that Technical Exercises and unseen tests must be performed exactly as written.

Accompaniment

All grade book pieces must be performed to a backing track or with live accompaniment unless written for solo performance. Candidates should inform RSL in advance if they are using a piano accompanist, and check with the examination centre for the availability of a piano ahead of their scheduled exam.

RSL Classical Guitar Syllabus

Please download the RSL Classical Guitar Syllabus Specification for free!

RSL Classical Guitar Syllabus Specification

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