Debut

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 16 and 20 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature the physical and expressive techniques as specified.

If your piece does not have four out of seven of the elements in Section B, it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does have these criteria, and meets the criteria in the Practical Performance Elements section, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick or first two fingers of the picking hand
  • Basic damping techniques
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes

Expressive Techniques

  • Basic legato/staccato

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter and 8th notes
  • Whole, half and quarter note rests

Instrument Compass

  • Pieces should contain a preponderance of open and first positions with some movement up to the 3rd fret

Grade 1

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 16 and 20 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature the physical and expressive techniques as specified.

If your piece does not have four out of seven of the elements in Section B, it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does have these criteria, and meets the criteria in the Practical Performance Elements section, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick or first two fingers of the picking hand
  • Basic damping techniques
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes

Expressive Techniques

  • Basic legato/staccato

Rhythm Skills

The pieces should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter and 8th notes
  • Dotted quarter notes and associated rests

Instrument Compass

  • Pieces should contain a preponderance of open and first positions with some movement up to 3rd fret

Grade 2

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 16 and 20 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature the physical and expressive techniques as specified.

If your piece does not have the physical and expressive techniques plus the rhythmic content and instrument compass specified it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does meet the criteria set out in the Practical Performance Elements and Performance Elements sections, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick or first two fingers of the picking hand
  • Basic damping techniques
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops

Expressive Techniques

  • Basic legato/staccato
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs

Rhythm Skills

The pieces should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter and 8th notes
  • Dotted quarter notes and associated rests
  • Some simple syncopations

Instrument Compass

  • Pieces should contain a preponderance of open and first positions with some movement up to 3rd fret

Grade 3

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 24 and 48 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature the physical and expressive techniques as specified.

If your piece does not have four out of seven of the elements in Section B, it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does have these criteria, and meets the criteria in the Practical Performance Elements section, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick or first two fingers of the picking hand
  • Picking hand damping techniques
  • Alternative picking
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops on adjacent strings
  • Use of syncopated 8th and 16th notes
  • Barre chords

Expressive Techniques

  • Basic legato/staccato
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs
  • Use of dynamics: soft to loud
  • Use of controlled bends
  • Use of blues and pentatonic scales in solos

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter, 8th and 16th note, dotted quavers and associated rests
  • Simple use of syncopation
  • 4/4 time signatures

Instrument Compass

  • The initial emphasis will be on open and first positions, with movement up to 5th position

Solo Section

  • Is there a solo section of at least 8 bars?

Grade 4

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 48 and 64 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature 6 out of the following 8 aspects as specified.

If your piece does not have the mixture of the physical and expressive techniques specified it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does meet the criteria set out in the Practical Performance Elements and Elective Elements sections, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick and fingers of the picking hand
  • Picking hand damping techniques
  • Fretting hand damping techniques
  • Alternative picking
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops on adjacent strings
  • Use of syncopated 8th and 16th notes
  • Barre chords

Expressive Techniques

The piece must feature 6 out of the following 9 aspects as specified.

  • Legato and staccato as required
  • Slides
  • Accented notes
  • Trills
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs
  • Use of dynamics: very soft to very loud
  • Use of controlled bends
  • Use of blues and pentatonic scales in solos

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter, 8th and 16th notes
  • Dotted half, quarter and 8th notes and associated rests
  • Tied whole notes, quarter note triplets and associated rests
  • Simple use of syncopation
  • 4/4 time signatures; some time signature variations, including 3/4 time

Instrument Compass

  • First position up to 5th position

Solo Section

  • Is there a solo section of at least 12 bars?

Grade 5

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 48 and 64 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature 6 of the following 8 aspects as specified.

If your piece does not have the number of the physical and expressive techniques specified it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does meet the criteria set out in the Practical Performance Elements and Elective Performance Elements sections, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick and fingers of the picking hand
  • Picking hand damping techniques
  • Fretting hand damping techniques
  • Alternative picking
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops on adjacent strings
  • Use of syncopated 8th and 16th notes
  • Barre chords

Expressive Techniques

The piece must feature 7 out of the following 10 aspects as specified.

  • Legato and fretting hand legato
  • Staccato as required
  • Slides
  • Accented notes
  • Trills
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs
  • Use of dynamics: very soft to very loud
  • Use of controlled bends
  • Use of blues and pentatonic scales in solos

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter, 8th and 16th notes
  • Dotted half, quarter and 8th notes and associated rests
  • Tied whole notes, quarter note triplets and associated rests
  • Use of syncopation
  • 4/4 time signatures; some time signature variations, including 3/4 time

Instrument Compass

  • Up to 10th position

Solo Section

  • Is there a solo section of at least 12 bars?

Grade 6

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 48 and 64 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature 6 of the following 8 aspects as specified.

If your piece does not have the number of the physical and expressive techniques specified it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does meet the criteria set out in Sections A & B, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick and fingers of the picking hand
  • Picking hand damping techniques
  • Fretting hand damping techniques
  • Alternative picking
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops on non-adjacent strings
  • Use of syncopated 8th and 16th note rhythms
  • Barre chords

Expressive Techniques

The piece must feature 7 out of the following 11 aspects as specified.

  • Legato and fretting hand legato
  • Staccato as required
  • Slides
  • Accented notes
  • Trills
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs
  • Use of dynamics: very soft to very loud
  • Use of controlled bends
  • Use of blues and pentatonic scales in solos
  • Natural and false harmonics

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter, 8th and 16th notes, dotted half, quarter and 8th notes and associated rests
  • Tied whole notes, quarter note triplets and associated rests
  • Use of syncopation and swung 16th notes and triplet 16th notes
  • 4/4 time signatures; some time signature variations, including 3/4, 5/4, 6/4 and, 7/8 time

Instrument Compass

  • Up to 15th position

Solo Section

  • Is there a solo section of at least 16 bars?

Grade 7

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 48 and 64 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature 6 of the following 8 aspects as specified.

If your piece does not have the number of the physical and expressive techniques specified it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does meet the criteria set out in Sections A & B, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick and fingers of the picking hand
  • Picking hand damping techniques
  • Fretting hand damping techniques
  • Alternative picking
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops on non-adjacent strings
  • Use of syncopated 8th and 16th note rhythms
  • Barre chords

Expressive Techniques

The piece must feature 7 out of the following 11 aspects as specified.

  • Legato and fretting hand legato
  • Staccato as required
  • Slides
  • Accented notes
  • Trills
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs
  • Use of dynamics: very soft to very loud
  • Use of controlled bends
  • Use of blues and pentatonic scales in solos
  • Natural and false harmonics

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter, 8th and 16th notes, dotted half, quarter and 8th notes and associated rests
  • Tied whole notes, quarter note triplets and associated rests
  • Use of syncopation and swung 16th notes and triplet 16th notes
  • 4/4 time signatures; some time signature variations, including 3/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 7/8 time

Instrument Compass

  • Up to 15th position

Solo Section

  • Is there a solo section of at least 16 bars?

Grade 8

Section A - Essential Elements

If you answer "No" to any of the following questions the piece is unsuitable for use in the grade examination. If you answer "Yes" to all of them then please proceed to the next section.

  • Is the piece between 48 and 64 bars long?
  • Is the piece performed with a backing track?
  • Is the backing track on CD?
  • Is the backing track minus the Guitar part?
  • Does the piece exist in a notated copy?

Section B - Performance Elements

The piece must feature 6 of the following 8 aspects as specified.

If your piece does not have the number of the physical and expressive techniques specified it is unsuitable for use in the examination. If it does meet the criteria set out in the Practical Performance Elements and Performance Elements sections, it should be suitable for use in the examination.

Physical Techniques

  • Use of pick and fingers of the picking hand
  • Picking hand damping techniques
  • Fretting hand damping techniques
  • Alternative picking
  • Ability to move between chords and single notes
  • Use of double stops on non-adjacent strings
  • Use of syncopated 8th and 16th note rhythms
  • Barre chords
  • String tapping

Expressive Techniques

  • Legato and fretting hand legato
  • Staccato as required
  • Slides
  • Accented notes
  • Trills
  • Hammer-ons
  • Pull-offs
  • Use of dynamics: very soft to very loud
  • Use of controlled bends
  • Use of blues and pentatonic scales in solos
  • Natural and false harmonics

Rhythm Skills

Songs should contain a mixture of:

  • Whole, half, quarter, 8th and 16th notes, dotted half, quarter and 8th notes and associated rests
  • Tied whole notes, quarter note triplets and associated rests
  • Use of syncopation and swung 16th notes and triplet 16th notes
  • 4/4 time signatures; at least one time signature variation, including 3/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 7/8 time

Instrument Compass

  • Complete mastery of the fingerboard

Solo Section

  • Is there a solo section of at least 16 bars?

Additional Information

 

Free Choice Pieces (FCP) must meet the timing requirements below for each grade:

LevelMinimum Time Limit for FCPMaximum Time Limit for FCP
Debut45 Seconds3 minutes
Grade 11 minute3 minutes
Grade 21 minute3 minutes
Grade 31 minute 30 seconds4 minutes
Grade 42 minutes4 minutes
Grade 52 minutes4 minutes
Grade 62 minutes 30 seconds5 minutes
Grade 72 minutes 30 seconds5 minutes
Grade 83 minutes5 minutes

Candidates are reminded that RSL examination regulations state that pieces must be performed to the exact requirements as detailed in the relevant syllabus guide. If a performance piece overruns, the examiner may halt the performance and only grade the material demonstrated until that point. Candidate reports in this instance will be automatically referred to the Head of Assessment at RSL HQ and may be returned to the candidate with accompanying notes.

Free Choice Piece’s must be available in fully notated sheet music. Candidates need to bring a copy of the sheet music for the examiner to refer to during the examination. It is acceptable for candidates to refer to their own duplicate copy during the performance. Candidates are reminded that both copies need to fully reflect the interpretation and intended performance of the piece. Examiners will retain all photocopied materials from the exam session.

It is not a prerequisite to have these pieces approved by RSL HQ, but please feel free to e-mail us if you are unsure about the eligibility of your piece at freechoicepieces@rslawards.com.