RSL Classical

Learn Classical Guitar

Striking a balance between radical redesign and recognisable structure, RSL Classical Guitar adheres to four key principles: championing composers from the global majority, true representation of gender, acknowledging the history and tradition of guitar pedagogy, and enabling students to feel comfortable studying music in a popular and classical environment. With works from a diverse selection of composers across classical, contemporary classical, jazz and pop, the syllabus provides an engaging stimulus for learning guitar from beginner to advanced level.

RSL Classical Guitar

Guitar Mastery

The pieces at each grade expose students to an array of styles and instrument-specific techniques, contributing to improved musicianship. Technical exercises and rudiments will reinforce the fundamentals of guitar playing, with sight-reading and improvisation training contributing to increased musical know-how.

RSL Classical Repertoire

Diverse Repertoire

At each grade, there is a selection of benchmarked classical tracks and popular music arrangements. Diverse and engaging, including a greater representation of female composers and composers from the global majority, our repertoire will challenge and inspire students as they develop their guitar technique.

RSL Classical Composers

Outstanding Composers & Artists

RSL Classical Guitar includes repertoire from the likes of Laura Snowden, Debbie Cracknell, Ignatius Sancho, Florence Price, Naoko Ikeda, Leo Brouwer, Francisco Tárrega, Fernando Sor, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Gary Ryan, Nick Powlesland, Peter Nutall, Taylor Swift, Helen Sanderson, Andrew York, Tatiana Stachak, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Frantz Casseus… to name but a few!

RSL Classical Audio

Audio Excellence

Exemplar performances are included for all performance pieces, including backing tracks for duets and pop tracks. Each backing track has been professionally recorded at commercial quality to give your students the feeling of doing a fully-fledged performance wherever they might be practising. Slick count-ins and fresh arrangements mean every practise session can feel like a concert performance!

RSL Classical UCAS

UCAS Points

Grades 6 to 8 are UCAS recognised aiding Higher Education applications. Candidates can gain up to 30 UCAS points for completion of these Level 3 qualifications.

RSL Classical Academic

Academically Rigorous

RSL Classical Guitar has been designed with industry relevance, student engagement, and academic rigour in mind. Upon completion of an RSL Graded Music Exam, every candidate will have earned a globally recognised qualification, which has been designed to support progression routes towards higher education and the creative industries.

Classical Guitar Grades for the 21st Century

Striking a balance between radical redesign and recognisable structure, RSL Classical Guitar adheres to four fundamental principles: championing composers from the global majority, accurate representation of gender, acknowledging the history and tradition of guitar pedagogy, and enabling students to feel comfortable studying music in a popular and classical environment.

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How it works

Whether you’re learning classical guitar independently or with a music teacher, it’s easy to get started learning with RSL Classical.

01

Download the syllabus and buy your grade book

Our publications provide you with everything you need: professionally arranged and produced repertoire alongside innovative technical exercises and supporting tests.

02

Start practicing with our innovative resources

From our physical publications to our interactive e-books and Learning Platform app, our teaching and learning resources are here to support you become a better musician.

03

Sit the exam and reap your rewards

If you’re ready and want to take a Graded Music Exam, achieve your very own RSL Classical qualification after putting in the hours of dedication towards mastering your instrument.

Classical Guitar
Debut

The Debut Classical Guitar exam is for candidates who have been learning a short time and have developed elementary skills, techniques, coordination and musical understanding.

There are two main types of exams available at Debut, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face or live-streamed exam or submitted as a recorded digital exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 15 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 12 minutes (approx.)
RSL Classical Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Guitar Debut will provide you with everything you need for your Debut exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally arranged and recorded backing tracks.

1

Classical Guitar Debut

The essential syllabus for the aspiring classical guitarist. RSL Classical Guitar Debut will prov...
Graded Music Exam Debut

Graded Music Exam: Debut

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The performance pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate and are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Andean Folk Song, arr. Yvon Rivoal – Ojos Azules
  • Laura Snowden – The Secret City
  • Mauro Giuliani (arr. Debbie Cracknell) – Andante in C
  • Beyoncé – If I Were a Boy
  • The Lumineers – Ho Hey
  • Bill Withers – Lean on Me
  • Fernando Sor – Study in C, No. 1
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Ode To Joy
  • From Disney’s ‘Frozen 2’ – All Is Found
  • Gustav Holst – ‘Jupiter’ from The Planets

Technical Exercises

There are two groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales and Technical Studies. All are to be played unaccompanied. The tempo given for the scales is the recommended minimum tempo for this grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Scale: C major
Range: Perfect 5th
Tempo: Crotchet = 70
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Scale: A minor
Range: Perfect 5th
Tempo: Crotchet = 70
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Scale: G Major Pentatonic
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 70
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

 

GROUP B – Technical Studies

Candidates are to perform one of the three technical studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which they wish to choose before commencing. Once candidates have decided they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements
Candidates will be given one of the following:

Either:

  • A four-bar melody on the 1st string (high E), on the notes E, F and G, played in minims;

Or:

  • A four-bar single-note rhythm on the 6th string (low E), containing semibreves (whole notes), minims (half notes) and crotchets (quarter notes).

Process
All Sight Reading tests at Debut should be played at a recommended minimum tempo of crotchet = 60 bpm.

While the test is not played to a metronome click, candidates may ask to hear the minimum tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear a few seconds of the tempo on a metronome before the assessed part of the test begins.

Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements
Candidates will be given a five-bar chord progression in the key of C major. The tempo is crotchet=65. At Debut, candidates only need to improvise single-note melodies in the key of C major. The chord symbols show the chord progression of the backing track only. The test will start and end on the tonic chord, and will only contain chords I, IV and V.

Process
Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise, and will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one-bar count-in at the beginning of the practise time. Following the initial practice time, the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is for candidates to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. For each playthrough, the backing track will begin with a one-bar count-in.

The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Melodic Recall

The examiner will play two minims (half notes) one after the other. Candidates are required to tell the examiner whether the second note is higher or lower in pitch than the first note. The test will be played twice.

Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one-bar vocal count-in. The tempo is crotchet = 85.

Rhythmic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string. The test will be played twice. Candidates will be asked to play the rhythm back, and will then be asked to identify the rhythm from two examples shown to them.

Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one-bar count-in. There will be a short gap to practise. Next, there will be a vocal count-in after which candidates must play the rhythm to the drum backing. The tempo is crotchet = 85.

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam, candidates will be asked five questions, divided between two topics as detailed below.

Music Knowledge

The examiner will ask the candidate four questions based on a piece of music that they have played in the exam. The candidate will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.

At Debut the candidate may be asked to identify:

  • the music stave
  • the treble clef
  • semibreve (whole notes), minims (half notes) and crotchets (quarter notes).

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask the candidate one question regarding the candidate’s instrument.

In Debut, the candidate will be asked to identify:

  • one of the following parts of their guitar: neck, body, tuning-pegs or bridge

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Classical Guitar
Grade 1

The Grade 1 Classical Guitar exam is for candidates who have mastered the key Debut level skills and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, coordination and musical understanding. There is also an opportunity to build on basic improvisation.

There are two main types of exams available at Grade 1, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face or live-streamed exam or submitted as a recorded digital exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 15 minutes (approx.)
RSL Classical Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Guitar Grade 1 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 1 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally arranged and recorded backing tracks.

1

Classical Guitar Grade 1

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Classical Guitarist. RSL Classical Guitar G...
Graded Music Exam Grade 1

Graded Music Exam: Grade 1

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The performance pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate and are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Laura Snowden – In My Heart
  • David Guetta feat. Sia – Titanium
  • Helen Sanderson – Lotus Flower
  • Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna – We Found Love
  • Nick Powlesland – It’s Just a Matter of Time
  • Gary Ryan – Snake in a Basket
  • John Dowland – What If I Never Speed
  • Peter Nutall – Seville
  • Ed Sheeran – Perfect
  • Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

Technical Exercises

There are three groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies. All are to be played unaccompanied. The tempos given for the scales and arpeggios are the recommended minimum tempos for this grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed, stating how they are to be performed, from the requirements listed in the table. Candidates can choose to perform the scales in even notes (quavers) or with long tonic rhythms.

Major Scales
Scale: G, C, F major
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 75
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Minor Scales
Scale: A, E Minor (Natural or harmonic minor – candidate’s choice)
Range: 1 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 75
Requirements: Tirando, thumb only

Double-Stopped Exercise
G Major Double-Stopped Exercise
Tempo: Crotchet = 75

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed. Over-ringing of notes in arpeggios is acceptable at Grade 1.

Arpeggio: G Major
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 75
Requirements: Tirando, fingers only

Arpeggio: E Minor
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 75
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Arpeggio: F Major
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 75
Requirements: Tirando, thumb only

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Candidates are to perform one of the three technical studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which one they wish to choose before commencing. Once the candidate has decided they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements
Candidates will be given one of the following:

Either:

  • A four-bar melody on the 1st string (high E) on the notes E, F and G in open/first position, and 2nd string (B) on the notes B, C and D in open/first position, played in minims (half notes);

Or:

  • A four-bar single-note rhythm on the open 6th string (low E), open 5th string (A), and open 4th string (D), containing minims (half notes) and crotchets (quarter notes).

Process
All Sight Reading tests at Grade 1 should be played at a recommended minimum tempo of crotchet = 61 bpm.

While the test is not played to a metronome click, candidates may ask to hear the minimum tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear a few seconds of the tempo on a metronome before the assessed part of the test begins.

Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements
Candidates will be given a five-bar chord progression in the key of C major or A minor. The tempo is crotchet = 75.

At Grade 1, candidates only need to improvise single-note melodies in the key of C major or A minor. Both tests will start and end on the tonic chord in their respective key.

The chord symbols show the chord progression of the backing track only.

  • The C major test will contain the chords I, IV and V
  • The A minor test will contain the chords Im, IVm and Vm

Process
Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise, before which candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one-bar count-in at the beginning. Following the initial practice time, the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is for the candidate to practise and the second time is for the candidate to perform the final version for the exam. For each playthrough, the backing track will begin with a one-bar count-in. The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Melodic Recall

The examiner will play three notes in sequence. The candidate will need to identify whether the notes are higher or lower (up or down) in sequence. Candidates will hear the test twice.

Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in. The tempo is crotchet = 85.

Rhythmic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar rhythm played to a drum backing on the lowest-sounding E string. Candidates will hear the test twice. The candidate will be asked to play the rhythm back and then be asked to identify the rhythm from the two printed examples shown.

Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Candidates will then hear a vocal count-in and will then need to play the rhythm to the drum backing. The tempo is crotchet = 90.

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam, the candidate will be asked five questions, divided between two topics as detailed below.

Music Knowledge

At Grade 1 the candidate will be asked three questions based on their choice of a piece of music that the candidate has played in the exam.

The questions will be drawn from the following:

  • identify the treble clef
  • identify the time signature
  • identify rhythm values from the following: semibreve (whole note), minim (half note), crotchet (quarter note) and quaver (eighth note) values.

Candidates will also be asked one question on chord construction:
– explain the difference between a major and minor chord

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask the candidate one question regarding their instrument, drawn from the following:

  • identify two of the following parts of the guitar: neck, fretboard, body, tuning-pegs, nut or bridge, sound hole
  • identify the pitches of open strings (in standard tuning)

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Classical Guitar
Grade 2

The Grade 2 Classical Guitar exam is for candidates who have mastered the key skills up to Grade 1 and since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, coordination and musical understanding. There is also the continuing opportunity to develop improvisation skills.
There are two main types of exams available at Grade 2, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face or live-streamed exam or submitted as a recorded digital exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 15 minutes (approx.)
RSL Classical Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Guitar Grade 2 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 1 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally arranged and recorded backing tracks.

1

Classical Guitar Grade 2

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Classical Guitarist. RSL Classical Guitar G...
Graded Music Exam Grade 2

Graded Music Exam: Grade 2

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Repub...

Performance Pieces

The performance pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate and are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Edvard Grieg – In the Hall of the Mountain King
  • Laura Snowden – Song for a Friend
  • Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
  • From ‘A Star is Born’ – Shallow
  • Ignatius Sancho – Le Douze Décembre
  • Lee Sollory – Magnetic South
  • Antonio Vivaldi – Spring
  • G.F. Handel – The Harmonious Blacksmith
  • Nathanael Diesel – Menuet
  • Nina Simone – Feeling Good

Technical Exercises

There are three groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies. All are to be played unaccompanied. The tempos given for the scales and arpeggios are the recommended minimum tempos for this grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed, stating how they are to be performed, from the requirements listed in the table. Candidates can choose to perform the scales in even notes (quavers) or with long tonic rhythms.

Major Scales

Scale: D Major
Range: Perfect 12th
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Scale: C Major
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb only

Minor Scales

Scale: D Harmonic Minor
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Scale: B Minor (Natural or harmonic minor – candidate’s choice)
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb only

Chromatic Scales

Scale: Chromatic, starting on A
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb only

Double-Stopped Exercise

G Minor Double-Stopped Exercise
Tempo: Crotchet = 80

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed. Over-ringing of notes in arpeggios is acceptable at Grade 2.

Arpeggio: D Major, D Minor, C Major
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Candidates are to perform one of the three technical studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which one they wish to choose before commencing. Once the candidate has decided they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements

The sight reading test will be up to eight bars long, in one of the following keys:

  • C major
  • A minor
  • G major

Process
The examiner will give the candidate a previously unseen test to be performed unaccompanied. You will have 90 seconds to prepare, after which the examiner will ask the candidate to commence the test.

While the test is not played to a metronome click, candidates may ask to hear the minimum tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear a few seconds of the tempo on a metronome before the assessed part of the test begins.

Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements
Candidates will be given a five-bar chord progression in the key of D major or B minor. The tempo is crotchet = 85.

At Grade 1, candidates only need to improvise single-note melodies in the key of D major or B minor. The chord symbols show the chord progression of the backing track only.

  • The D major test will contain the chords I, IV, V7, VIm
  • The B minor test will contain the chords Im, III, IVm, VIm and VII7

Process
Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise, before which candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one-bar count-in at the beginning. Following the initial practice time, the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is for the candidate to practise and the second time is for the candidate to perform the final version for the exam. For each playthrough, the backing track will begin with a one-bar count-in. The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Melodic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar melody using the C major scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be ascending. Candidates will need to play the melody back on their instrument. Candidates will hear the test twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap to practise. Next, candidates will hear a vocal count-in and then play the melody to the metronome click.

The tempo is crotchet = 85.

Rhythmic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar rhythm played to a metronome click on the lowest-sounding E string. Candidates will hear the test twice and will be asked to play the rhythm back. Candidates will then be asked to identify the rhythm from two printed examples shown. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap to practise. Next, candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then play the rhythm to the metronome click.

The tempo is crotchet = 90.

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam, the candidate will be asked five questions, divided between two topics as detailed below.

Music Knowledge

At Grade 2 the candidate will be asked three questions based on their choice of a piece of music that the candidate has played in the exam.

The questions will be drawn from the following:

  • identify the pitch name of notes
  • explain the meaning of the time signature marking
  • identify rhythm values from the following: semibreve (whole), minim (half), crotchet (quarter), quaver (eighth) and semiquaver (16th note) values, and their associated rests

Candidates will also be asked one question on chord construction:

  • explain the difference between a major or minor chord

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask the candidate one question regarding their instrument, drawn from the following:

  • three of the following parts of their guitar: neck, fretboard, body, tuning-pegs, nut, soundhole, or bridge
  • identify the pitches of all open strings (in standard tuning)

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Classical Guitar
Grade 3

The Grade 3 Classical Guitar exam is for candidates who are ready to consolidate their final stage as beginner player. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 2 and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, coordination and musical understanding. Candidates have started to develop the beginnings of stylistic awareness and there is also the opportunity to improvise, with improvisation growing in confidence and articulation.

There are two main types of exams available at Grade 3, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face or live-streamed exam or submitted as a recorded digital exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 18 minutes (approx.)
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Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Guitar Grade 3 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 3 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally arranged and recorded backing tracks.

1

Classical Guitar Grade 3

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Classical Guitarist. RSL Classical Guitar G...
Graded Music Exam Grade 3

Graded Music Exam: Grade 3

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The performance pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate and are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Yvon Rivoal – Cueca
  • Laura Snowden – Walking With Grandma
  • Ferdinando Carulli – Waltz, Op. 241, no. 21
  • Francisco Tárrega – Estudio
  • Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther
  • Nick Powlesland – Ecstatic Chromatic
  • Ignatius Sancho – La Jour de May
  • Coldplay – In My Place
  • Pharrell – Happy
  • Leo Brouwer – Étude No.  1

Technical Exercises

There are three groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies. All are to be played unaccompanied. The tempos given for the scales and arpeggios are the recommended minimum tempos for this grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed, stating how they are to be performed, from the requirements listed in the table. Candidates can choose to perform the scales in even notes (quavers) or with long tonic rhythms.

Major Scales and Minor Scales

Scale: C Major
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 65
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Scale: G Major, E Harmonic Minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 65
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Scale: B Harmonic Minor, B Natural Minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 65
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Chromatic Scales

Scale: Chromatic, starting on D
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 65
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Double-Stopped Exercise

A Minor in 3rds Double-Stopped Exercise
Tempo: Crotchet = 65

C Major in 6ths Double-Stopped Exercise
Tempo: Crotchet = 65

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed without over-ringing.

Arpeggio: G Major, E Minor, B Minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 65
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Broken Chords
Candidates are to prepare all of the following to be performed with over-ringing.

Broken Chords: D Major (IIm, V7, I)
Tempo: Quaver = 130
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers.

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Candidates are to perform one of the three technical studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which one they wish to choose before commencing. Once the candidate has decided they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements

The sight reading test will be up to eight bars long, in one of the following keys:

  • C major
  • G major
  • A minor

Process
The examiner will give the candidate a previously unseen test to be performed unaccompanied. Candidates will have 90 seconds to prepare, after which the examiner will ask the candidate to commence the test.

While the test is not played to a metronome click, candidates may ask to hear the minimum tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear a few seconds of the tempo on a metronome before the assessed part of the test begins.

Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements
In the Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test, the examiner will give the candidate a chord progression of up to nine bars duration, in the key of G major or E minor, to be performed to backing track. The tempo is crotchet = 95.

At Grade 3, candidates only need to improvise single-note melodies in the key of G major or E minor. The chord symbols show the chord progression of the backing track only. At this grade, all chords will be diatonic to the key of the test.

Process
Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise, before which candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one-bar count-in at the beginning. Following the initial practice time, the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is for the candidate to practise and the second time is for the candidate to perform the final version for the exam. For each playthrough, the backing track will begin with a one-bar count-in. The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Melodic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar melody using the G major scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be ascending. Candidates will need to play the melody back on their instrument. The test will be heard twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap to practise. Next candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then play the melody to the metronome click.

The tempo is crotchet = 85.

Rhythmic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar rhythm played to metronome click on the lowest-sounding E string. Candidates will hear the test twice, and will be asked to play the rhythm back. Candidates will then be asked to identify the rhythm from two printed examples shown. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar count-in. There will be a short gap to practise. Next candidates will hear a vocal count-in and will then play the rhythm to the metronome click.

The tempo is crotchet = 90.

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam, the candidate will be asked five questions, divided between two topics as detailed below.

Music Knowledge

At Grade 3 candidates will be asked three questions based on their choice of a piece of music that they have played in the exam. The questions will be drawn from the following:

  • identify the names of pitches
  • explain the meaning of the time signature marking
  • identify rhythm values from the following: semibreve (whole note), minim (half note), crotchet (quarter note), quaver (eighth note), triplet quaver (triplet eighth-notes) and semiquaver (16th note) values, and their associated rests

Candidates will also be asked one question on chord construction:

  • explain the construction of a dominant 7 chord

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question from the following. At Grade 3 candidates may be asked to:

  • identify three of the following parts of their guitar: neck, fretboard, body, tuning-pegs, nut, soundhole, or bridge
  • explain the difference between apoyando and tirando technique
    identify the pitches of all open strings (in standard tuning)

(Note: Demonstrations are acceptable to support an explanation, but must have the spoken understanding).

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Classical Guitar
Grade 4

The Grade 4 Classical Guitar exam is for candidates who are ready for intermediate level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 3 and have since acquired greater use of technique, more complex rhythms, coordination and musical understanding. Candidates will be developing a sense of expression and continuing to broaden their stylistic awareness, and there is also the opportunity to improvise, which will be growing in assurance and articulation.

There are two main types of exams available at Grade 4, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face or live-streamed exam or submitted as a recorded digital exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 22 minutes (approx.)
RSL Classical Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Guitar Grade 4 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 4 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally arranged and recorded backing tracks.

1

Classical Guitar Grade 4

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Classical Guitarist. RSL Classical Guitar G...
Graded Music Exam Grade 4

Graded Music Exam: Grade 4

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The performance pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate and are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Helen Sanderson – West Coast
  • Andrew York – Garden Steps
  • Robert Johnson – Alman
  • Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Road Trippin’
  • Madame Sidney Pratten – A Lament
  • Fauré – Siciliene
  • John Williams – Theme From ‘Star Wars
  • David Cottam – Amontillado
  • Tatiana Stachak – Tango

Technical Exercises

There are three groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies. All are to be played unaccompanied. The tempos given for the scales and arpeggios are the recommended minimum tempos for this grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed, stating how they are to be performed, from the requirements listed in the table. Candidates can choose to perform the scales in even notes (quavers) or with long tonic rhythms.

Major Scales and Minor Scales

Scale: D Major, A Major, C melodic minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando or apoyando (candidate choice), fingers only

Scale: F# Harmonic Minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Chromatic Scales

Scale: Chromatic, starting on E
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Harmonised Scales

F Major in 6ths
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios & Broken Chords

Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare all of the following. In the exam, the examiner will request a selection to be performed without over-ringing.

Arpeggio: D major, F# Minor, B Minor
Range: 2 Octaves
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Arpeggio: D dominant 7
Range: 1 Octave
Tempo: Crotchet = 80
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers

Broken Chords

Candidates are to prepare all of the following to be performed with over-ringing.

Broken Chords: C Major (I, V7, I)
Tempo: Quaver = 160
Requirements: Tirando, thumb and fingers.

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Candidates are to perform one of the three technical studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

In the exam, candidates have a choice between either a Sight Reading test or a Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test. The examiner will ask the candidate which one they wish to choose before commencing. Once the candidate has decided they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements

The sight reading test will be up to eight bars long, in one of the following keys:

  • D major or B minor
  • F major or D minor
  • G major or E minor

Process
The examiner will give the candidate a previously unseen test to be performed unaccompanied. Candidates will have 90 seconds to prepare, after which the examiner will ask the candidate to commence the test.

While the test is not played to a metronome click, candidates may ask to hear the minimum tempo on a metronome at the start of, or throughout their practice time. Additionally, candidates may ask to hear a few seconds of the tempo on a metronome before the assessed part of the test begins.

Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements
In the Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test, the examiner will give the candidate a chord progression of up to nine bars duration, in the key of G major or E minor, to be performed to backing track. The tempo is crotchet = 95.

At Grade 4, the candidate may improvise either single-note melodies or a chordal accompaniment (candidate choice). The backing track will meet the following criteria:

  • A 12-bar blues in the key of G or C, containing the chords I7, IV7 and V7.
  • A 12-bar piece based on a contemporary style (e.g., pop, rock, soul, R&B) in the key of A major or F# minor, containing diatonic chords (including 7ths). The test may begin and end in either A major or its relative minor (F# minor)

Process
Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise, before which candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one-bar count-in at the beginning. Following the initial practice time, the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is for the candidate to practise and the second time is for the candidate to perform the final version for the exam. For each playthrough, the backing track will begin with a one-bar count-in. The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Melodic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar melody with a metronome click, using the A major scale. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be descending. Candidates will need to play the melody back on their instrument. Candidates will hear the test twice. Each time the test is played the sequence is: four clicks, root note, four clicks, melody. There will be a short gap to practise after the test is heard for the second time. Candidates will then hear the four clicks and root note for the third time, followed by a vocal count-in and will then play the melody to the metronome click.

The tempo is crotchet = 90.

Harmonic Recall

The examiner will play a tonic chord followed by a two-bar chord sequence in the key of C major played to a metronome click. The sequence will be drawn from the I, IV and V chords and may occur in any combination. Candidates will be asked to identify the chord sequence, stating the progression either with the chord names (C, F, G) or numerals (I, IV, V). Each time the test is played the sequence is: four clicks, tonic, four clicks, chords. There will be a short gap for to practise after the candidate has heard the test for the second time. Candidates will then be asked to state the chord progression.

The tempo is crotchet = 90.

General Musicianship Questions

In this part of the exam, the candidate will be asked five questions, divided between two topics as detailed below.

Music Knowledge

At Grade 4 the candidate will be asked three questions based on their choice of a piece of music that they have played in the exam. The questions will be drawn from the following:

  • identify the names of pitches
  • explain the meaning of the time signature and key signature markings
  • explain the meaning of repeat marks, first and second time bars, D.C., D.S., al Coda and al Fine markings
  • identify rhythm values from the following: semibreve (whole note), minim (half note), crotchet (quarter note), quaver (eighth note), quaver triplet (eighth-notes triplet) and semiquaver (16th note) values, and their associated rests

Candidates will also be asked one question on chord construction:

  • explain the construction of major7, minor7 or dominant7 chords

Instrument Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question regarding a technical consideration of the chosen piece, in relation to:

  • Picking hand: Strumming or picking technique for a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable
  • Fretting hand: Fretting position and fingering used to play a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable. The examiner will choose the section of music and will ask the candidate to give a brief explanation as to why the technique was appropriate for the chosen section.

(Note: Demonstrations are acceptable to support an explanation, but must have the spoken understanding).

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

3 Performance Pieces (two of which may be Free Choice Pieces) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 60% of the exam mark
Technical Exercises (Section A, B, C and D for Level 3 qualifications) Candidates choose to play either Performance Pieces or Technical Exercises first These account for 15% of the exam mark
Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation (Debut to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8) Candidates are given an unseen test to prepare and perform This accounts for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates answer 5 questions based on one of the pieces performed These account for 5% of the exam marks

Performance Certificate

5 Performance Pieces only (three of these can be Free Choice Pieces) These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout. Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time. Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall. Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time. Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time. Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated. Understanding of musical structure not evidenced. No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & Expression Consistently convincing projection of the music. Mostly convincing projection of the music. Some convincing projection of the music. Music not convincingly projected. No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–1