For all Graded Music examinations, in addition to a minimum of one performance piece from the RSL grade book, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of two Free Choice Pieces.

For all Performance Certificate examinations, 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.

Free Choice Pieces must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to the pieces given in the set selections in the grade books which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level.

Free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul and Reggae, for example. Own compositions are also acceptable.

Pieces should be selected carefully to ensure that they provide suitable opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the necessary technical and musical competence detailed in the appropriate assessment criteria. Candidates are reminded that if a chosen Free Choice Piece does not meet these requirements this may impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination.

All pieces must be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track), except in cases where the piece has been selected from a previous Rockschool syllabus, which do not have backing tracks provided.

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 Examiner Panel Manager 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