Benchmarked repertoire is suitable for use in your exam without prior checks:
- Current grade book repertoire
- 2012 Guitar, Bass and Drums repertoire
- Rockschool Classics (previously known as Hot Rock)
- Tom Gates
(all as per the syllabus being examined).
- Male / Female vocals grade book repertoire (2014 syllabus) is interchangeable at the same grade
- Vocal grade book repertoire may be transposed to suit vocal range. For the 2021 syllabus, transposable MusicXML files are provided for this purpose. For the 2014 syllabus, backing tracks in the transposed key are required and to be sourced by the candidate. All other aspects need to remain unchanged.
- Accredited free choice pieces, including vocals wider repertoire or pieces taken from other RSL syllabuses, are not considered benchmarked repertoire (see below).
There is no limit on the maximum number of pieces or songs which may be presented as benchmarked repertoire.
Adapted Repertoire is current syllabus material which has been changed or adapted by the candidate:
- Current RSL Grade Book piece performed with a different backing track or accompaniment to the one set by RSL, including no backing track or accompaniment where one is usually required (NB. excluding transposition of pieces in the RSL vocal grade books to suit a particular vocal range – see above)
- Current RSL Grade Book piece set at a different (lower or higher) grade in the same syllabus, or from a different syllabus
- RSL Grade Book piece taken from an outgoing or incoming syllabus during the transition period for a new syllabus
There is no limit on the maximum number of pieces or songs which may be presented as adapted repertoire.
It is not permitted to play a piece from a different syllabus on that instrument, with the exception of acoustic guitar / electric guitar exams, and piano / keys exams, up to and including Grade 3. All other instances of this will be awarded a mark of zero.
Accredited Free Choice Pieces will be accepted as suitable without prior checks:
- Pieces from a corresponding previous RSL syllabus at the same (or higher) grade. (NB. As an exception, pieces from the 2014 vocals syllabus presented in a vocals exam are considered Adapted Repertoire)
- Pieces from other regulated music exam boards set for the same (or higher) grade.
- Vocals wider repertoire.
Non-accredited Free Choice Pieces:
- Current RSL Grade book pieces in a different version (ie. obtained from an alternative source)
- Original compositions
- Any other piece or song
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.)
- for all graded examinations and digital graded certificates, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of two Free Choice Pieces
- for all performance certificates, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of three Free Choice Pieces
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.
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.
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 part being performed (‘full mix’), 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 or lightning connector 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) or lightning connector 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.
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:
- RSL Grade book piece from a lower grade in the same syllabus
- RSL Wider Repertoire Vocal piece from a lower grade in the same syllabus
The following case will always be interpreted as having equivalent demand:
- Classical Piano repertoire played in Rockschool Piano exams, and Rockschool Piano repertoire played in Classical Piano exams (at the same or lower grade)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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 chord chart, lyrics sheet or tab is not sufficient, although a lead sheet (notated melody plus chords) will be accepted.
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.