Covid-19: Free Choice Pieces Exam Board and Genre Extension
In response to the current Covid-19 restrictions, and to allow as many candidates as possible to achieve their qualifications, music in genres other than popular music which is set for exams of other recognised boards will be automatically accepted as free choice pieces for the equivalent grade. This applies to Piano, Keyboard, Vocals, and Acoustic Guitar whilst Covid-19 restrictions remain in place.
Candidates will also be able to check the suitability of any wider repertoire in other genres through the established Free Choice Piece checking process.
Popular music, jazz and film music from other recognised boards remains suitable as Free Choice Pieces for any instrument and will be automatically accepted at the equivalent grade.
TEACHERS! Hit the button below to find out more about RSL Awards’ Free Choice Pieces extension and to download your free Rockschool sample packs!
For all graded examinations and video graded certificates, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of two free choice pieces.
For all performance certificates (except Premiere), in addition to a minimum of two performance piece from the RSL grade book, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of three free choice pieces.
Other than during the current Covid-19 restrictions, free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul or Reggae.
The following will be accepted as suitable free choice pieces without prior checks:
- Pieces from previous RSL syllabuses at the same (or higher) grade
(Please note that candidates must provide sheet music for ALL previous RSL syllabuses: examiners will only have access to current syllabus material)
- Pieces from the current RSL syllabus for the instrument set at a higher grade
- The following permissible interchangeable RSL instruments:
- Current or (any) previous RSL syllabus Electric Guitar repertoire performed in Acoustic Guitar exams
- Current or (any) previous RSL syllabus Acoustic Guitar repertoire performed in Electric Guitar exams
- Vocal wider repertoire pieces
- Pieces from other regulated music exam boards where accredited at the same (or higher) grade.
The following will be accepted as suitable free choice pieces if prior approval from RSL has been obtained (see below). Otherwise the examiner will make a judgement about the suitability of the piece in the exam:
- RSL Grade book pieces in a different version
(Note: excluding transposition of pieces in the RSL vocal grade books which are permitted without prior approval to suit a particular vocal range)
- RSL Grade book piece performed with a different backing track
- RSL Grade book piece performed with no backing track where one is normally required, or with a backing track where one is not normally required (Piano, Keys, Acoustic Guitar, Ukulele only)
- Original compositions
- Any other piece or song
Please note that for Electric Guitar, Bass, Drums and Vocals, where an RSL Grade book piece is performed with no backing track where one is normally required (see ‘Backing Tracks’ below), this would not be pre-approved as a free choice piece, and therefore the technical outcomes / resulting marks will be affected in this case.
The following are Rockschool benchmarked repertoire and therefore permitted without prior approval and do not count as free choice pieces:
- All current grade book repertoire
- Rockschool Classics (previously known as Hot Rock)
- Tom Gates
- Rock & Pop Foundation
- Current Male / Female vocal grade book repertoire. These can be interchangeable.
- Current Male / Female vocal grade book repertoire transposed to suit vocal range. (All other aspects need to remain unchanged. NB. Backing tracks in the transposed key are required and to be sourced by the candidate.)
- Electric Guitar, Bass, Drums, Vocals: All free choice pieces must be performed to a backing track.
- Piano, Keys, Acoustic Guitar, Ukulele: free choice pieces can be performed to a backing track, or as a solo piece (without backing track). Where a piece in the RSL Grade book is performed with no backing track where one is normally required, or with a backing track where one is not normally required, this also counts as a free choice piece.
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 may be reflected in the marking (see ‘Level of Demand’ below).
Level of Demand:
Free choice pieces must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to the pieces in the grade books, which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level. Pieces should therefore be selected carefully to ensure that they provide suitable opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the necessary technical and musical competence for the grade. If a free choice piece does not meet these requirements this will impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination and will be reflected in the marks and comments.
It is not a prerequisite to have free choice pieces approved by RSL HQ, but please feel free to e-mail us if you are unsure about the eligibility of your piece at firstname.lastname@example.org. A full reply will be given no later than 6 weeks after submission.
For information on free choice piece durations, please download the relevant document for your chosen syllabus from the links above.
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 assess the material demonstrated until that point.
With the exception of current RSL syllabuses (see below), all free choice pieces 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, or for a recorded video exam, supply a copy when the video is uploaded.
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.
If sheet music is not provided for a free choice piece this will be deemed a ‘partial submission’ and may be reflected in the marking and comments.
Please note that sheet music is not required when using any piece from a current RSL syllabus as a free choice piece, unless an alternative version is being used.
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.
Download the Free Choice Piece Guidance for Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Electric Guitar, Drums, Piano and Ukulele
|Acoustic Guitar Free Choice Guidance||
Rockschool Acoustic (2019) Guitar Free Choice Pieces
Rockschool Acoustic (2015) Guitar Free Choice Pieces
|Bass Free Choice Guidance||Rockschool Bass Free Choice Pieces|
|Drums Free Choice Guidance||Rockschool Drums Free Choice Pieces|
|Electric Guitar Free Choice Piece Guidance||Rockschool Electric Guitar Free Choice Pieces|
|Piano & Keys (2019 Edition) Free Choice Piece Guidance||Rockschool Piano & Keys (2019) Free Choice Pieces|
|Piano (2015 Edition) Free Choice Guidance||Rockschool Piano (2015) Free Choice Pieces|
|RSL Classical Piano Free Choice Guidance||RSL Classical Piano Free Choice Pieces|
|Ukulele (2020 Edition) Free Choice Guidance||Rockschool Ukulele (2020) Free Choice Pieces|
|Ukulele (2017 Edition) Free Choice Guidance||Rockschool Ukulele (2017) Free Choice Pieces|
|Vocals Free Choice Guidance||Rockschool Vocals Free Choice Pieces|