All pieces performed in RSL Graded Music exams fall into one of four categories:

  1. Benchmarked repertoire
  2. Adapted repertoire
  3. Accredited free choice piece
  4. Non-accredited free choice piece

A distinction has been implemented between Free Choice Pieces (externally sourced) and adaptations of (current) RSL repertoire.  While the maximum limit of two free choice pieces for a Graded Exam/Certificate or three for a Performance Certificate remains in place, there is no limit to the number of pieces which may be presented as Adapted Repertoire.

Benchmarked repertoire and accredited free choice pieces will always be assessed as meeting the required level of demand, while adapted repertoire and non-accredited free choice pieces may be assessed as not meeting the required level of demand.

What is Benchmarked Repertoire?

Benchmarked repertoire is suitable for use in your exam without prior checks:

(all as per the syllabus being examined).

Notes:

There is no limit on the maximum number of pieces or songs which may be presented as benchmarked repertoire.

What is Adapted Repertoire?

Adapted Repertoire is current syllabus material which has been changed or adapted by the candidate:

There is no limit on the maximum number of pieces or songs which may be presented as adapted repertoire.

What is a Free Choice Piece?

Accredited Free Choice Pieces will be accepted as suitable without prior checks:

Non-accredited Free Choice Pieces:

NOTE: occasionally the distinction between ‘Current RSL Grade Book piece performed with a different backing track or accompaniment to the one set by RSL’ (Adapted Repertoire) and ‘Current RSL Grade book pieces in a different version’ (Free Choice Piece) may be ambiguous / uncertain. In such cases the examiner will make a judgement as to which category the piece falls into. If you want to be sure, please use our checking service (see ‘Prior Approval’ below.)

How many Free Choice Pieces can I play?

If more Free Choice Pieces are presented than allowed (ie. a third free choice piece in a graded exam or video graded certificate, or a fourth / fifth free choice piece in a performance certificate), the additional pieces will be judged as inadmissible and will receive a mark of zero.

What styles of music can I use?

RSL does not specify the use of particular genres, although all music selected must be suitable for the instrument being played.  Candidates should be aware that Rockschool branded exams (ie. exams in popular music performance) are marked by popular / contemporary music specialists.

Backing tracks and accompaniment

Free Choice Pieces can be performed to a backing track, with live accompaniment, or as a solo piece (without backing track or accompaniment), as appropriate to the repertoire chosen.

Backing tracks for RSL syllabus pieces do not include the solo part on the track. Where a backing track for a Free Choice Piece includes the solo part, this will usually be interpreted as reducing the level of demand, which will be reflected in the marking (see ‘Level of Demand’ below).

For face-to-face and Live Video exams, for all non-current RSL backing tracks, candidates must provide a device containing the downloaded audio. This can be any device with a 3.5mm minijack output eg. MP3 player, portable CD player, phone or tablet. We recommend that two different sources are brought, one as a back-up.

Candidates will be expected to operate their own devices. Examiners will provide a 3.5mm (minijack) lead to connect the device to the PA.

Audio cannot be live streamed directly as mobile devices must be turned off or to airplane mode during the exam. Examiners will be unable to stream or download any backing tracks on the candidate’s behalf.

Level of demand

Non-accredited Free Choice Pieces and Adapted Repertoire must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to Benchmarked Repertoire, which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level.

Free Choice Pieces should therefore be selected carefully to ensure that they provide sufficient opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the necessary technical and musical competence for the grade.  Similarly, adaptations to RSL Grade Book repertoire should be made in such a way that the piece is not simplified below the level of demand required for the grade.

Simplification or reduction in demand can occur through changes to tempo, duration, style/groove, notes and rhythms, dynamics, and/or articulation; or via perceived ‘assistance’ to the candidate such as the presence of the solo part, cues, or ‘leading’ auditory material on the backing track, or removal/adaptation of the backing track so that candidates can employ flexibility of timing when this was not intended.

If a Free Choice Piece or Adapted Repertoire is judged by the examiner to reduce the level of demand / outcomes required for the grade, this will be treated as a ‘partial submission’ which will impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination and will be reflected in the marks and comments.

NB. The following case will always be interpreted as reducing the level of demand:

The following case will always be interpreted as having equivalent demand:

Prior approval

It is not a prerequisite for Non-accredited Free Choice Pieces or Adapted Repertoire to be approved by RSL, as the examiner will make a judgement about the suitability of the piece in the exam. However, if you are unsure about the eligibility of your piece(s) you can seek approval.

Please e-mail us at info@rslawards.com with details of the proposed piece(s)/adaptations, instrument and grade. A full reply will be given no later than 4 weeks after payment of the approval fee (£10) which will be facilitated via an online link that we will e-mail to you.

Please bring a copy of the approval confirmation with you to show the examiner, or for a recorded digital exam submission please upload a copy of the approval confirmation with your video.

Where prior approval is not obtained, examiners will make a judgement about the suitability of a Non-accredited Free Choice Piece or Adapted Repertoire at the time of the exam, and if in their judgement it does not meet the requirements for the grade, this will be reflected in the marking.

Duration

If a performance piece overruns beyond the allocated time (as per the instrument guidance downloadable below), the examiner may halt the performance and only assess the material demonstrated until that point.

Sheet music

With the exception of previous RSL syllabuses from 2015 onwards, candidates must provide fully notated sheet music for all Free Choice Pieces, including Vocals Wider Repertoire.  A copy must be brought to the examination, or for a recorded video exam, supplied when the video is uploaded.

Sheet music must fully reflect the version of the piece being performed, including all directions. A lead sheet, chord chart, lyrics sheet or tab is not sufficient.

Additionally, for vocals exams, for any free choice pieces sung in a language other than English, a translation of the lyrics into English must be provided.

Candidates may refer to their own copies during the performance. Examiners will retain all photocopied materials from the exam session.

If sheet music and/or translations are not provided for a Free Choice Piece (where this is required), this will be interpreted as a ‘partial submission’, which will be reflected in the marking.

Sheet music is not required for any adapted repertoire, but we recommend this is provided and given to the examiner at the beginning of the exam.

Download the Free Choice Piece guidance for your instrument below...

Instrument Download
Acoustic Guitar Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Free Choice Piece Guidance
Bass Rockschool Bass Free Choice Piece Guidance
Drums Rockschool Drums Free Choice Piece Guidance
Electric Guitar Rockschool Electric Guitar Free Choice Piece Guidance
Piano & Keys Rockschool Piano & Keys Free Choice Piece Guidance
RSL Classical Piano RSL Classical Piano Free Choice Piece Guidance
RSL Classical ViolinCOMING SOON!
Ukulele Rockschool Ukulele Free Choice Piece Guidance
Vocals Rockschool Vocals Free Choice Piece Guidance

 

Examples

Example 1

A piano candidate is entering for Grade 4 Performance Certificate Exam. They have chosen:

This candidate can enter for a Rockschool Piano exam or an RSL Classical piano exam.

If they enter for an RSL Classical piano exam the repertoire will be defined as follows:

All pieces will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand apart from the unaccredited free choice piece which can be checked in advance or the examiner will make a judgement in the exam.

Example 2

A piano candidate is entering for a Grade 2 Graded Music Exam. They have chosen:

If they enter for a Rockschool piano exam the repertoire will be defined as follows:

If they enter for an RSL Classical exam the repertoire will be defined as follows:

All pieces will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand.

Example 3

An Electric Guitar candidate is entering for a Grade 5 Graded Music Exam. They have chosen:

The repertoire will be defined as follows:

All pieces will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand.

Example 4

An Acoustic Guitar candidate is entering for a Grade 2 Performance Certificate Exam. They have chosen:

The repertoire will be defined as follows:

All pieces will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand.

Example 5

A Vocals candidate is entering for a Grade 8 Graded Music Exam. They have chosen:

The repertoire will be defined as follows:

The first two pieces will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand so long as the backing tracks chosen do not simplify the repertoire below the outcomes expected for the grade.  This can be checked in advance or the examiner will make a judgement in the exam.

Example 6

A Vocals candidate is entering for a Grade 3 Performance Certificate Exam. They have chosen:

The repertoire will be defined as follows:

The first four pieces will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand.

The fifth piece will be assessed as meeting the required level of demand so long as the accompaniment chosen does not simplify the repertoire below the outcomes expected for the grade.  This can be checked in advance or the examiner will make a judgement in the exam.