RSL Classical

Learn Classical Piano

The RSL Classical Piano syllabus proudly represents Classical music in all its forms, including music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras together with repertoire from the 20th and 21st century. The pieces sit alongside a range of scales, arpeggios and technical studies to provide a challenging and engaging syllabus for the 21st-century musician. We’re delighted to have developed the most representative classical syllabus available!

RSL Classical Academic

Academically Rigorous

RSL Classical Piano has been designed with industry relevance, student engagement, and academic rigour in mind. Every practical, theoretical and aural test has been written and developed by industry professionals to give students an unrivalled level of academic assurance.

RSL Classical Repertoire

Diverse Repertoire

Carefully graded to foster and support progression, RSL Classical Piano includes an exceptional selection of pieces from a diverse roster of composers including some of the most cherished and admired pieces from the Classical repertoire, alongside minimalism, impressionism, jazz, and film scores.

RSL Classical Composers

Exceptional Composers

We’re proud to have developed such a representative classical syllabus, featuring the likes of; Debussy, Clara Schumann, Alexis Ffrench, JS Bach, Elfrida Andrée, Isaac Albéniz, Mozart, Florence Price, John Williams, Zenobia Powell-Perry, Germaine Tailleferre, Chopin and Beethoven.. to name just a few!

RSL Classical Global

Internationally Recognised

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.

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 Download

Digital Downloads

The digital books contain all the repertoire and supporting tests, together with exclusive exemplar audio recordings of each track and Fact Files and Performance Notes. Students and teachers can instantly access their favourite graded music materials from their desktop, tablet or smartphone and, with Replay, have access to an interactive sheet music player with a range of playback and practice functions.

Learn the Classical Piano with RSL Classical

Ready to dive into the world of RSL Classical Piano? We highly recommend checking out the video below, which offers valuable insights into how this amazing syllabus has been brought to life.

How it works

Whether you’re learning the piano 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 Piano
Debut

The Debut Piano exam is for candidates who have been learning a short time and have developed elementary skills, techniques, co-ordination 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 exam or recorded video exam and is also available in some centres as a live-streamed video exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 15 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 12 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Piano 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 Piano Debut

The essential syllabus for the aspiring pianist. RSL Classical Piano Debut will provide you with ...
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 designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Yann Tiersen – La Valse d’Amélie
  • Ludovico Einaudi – Una Mattina
  • Pauline Hall – Martian’s March
  • Melanie Spanswick – Celebration (DUET)
  • Trad. Spiritual – Swing Low Sweet Chariot
  • Helen Madden – Andante Verde
  • Zenobia Powell Perry – Vignette No. 1
  • Béla Bartók – Play
  • Elvina Pearce – Sand Castle
  • Claude Debussy – Claire de Lune

Technical Exercises

At Debut, there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios/Broken Chords and Technical Studies.

  • All scales and broken chords need to be played hands separately, legato, ascending and descending, in the keys and octaves shown.
  • Pentatonic scales are right hand only.
  • There is no memory requirement, and candidates may use their book for all technical sections at this grade.
  • Any fingerings shown are suggestions only.
  • All groups are played unaccompanied (without metronome or click).
  • Candidates will be marked on tone quality and consistency, maintenance of pulse, and accuracy. Performances slower than the stated minimum tempo may be subject to qualitative judgement by the examiner, according to extent and commensurate with the grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Minimum tempo: 53bpm
Range: One octave
Rhythms: Quavers (eighth) notes, finishing on a crotchet (quarter note)

C major (right hand)
C major (left hand)
A natural minor (right hand)
A natural minor (left hand)
C major pentatonic (right hand) A minor pentatonic (right hand)

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Minimum tempo: 92bpm
Time signatures: 3/4
Rhythms: Crotchets (quarter notes), finishing on a dotted minim (dotted half note)

C major broken chord (right hand)
C major broken chord (left hand)
A minor broken chord (right hand)
A minor broken chord (left hand)

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Minimum tempo: 80bpm
Candidates perform their choice of one of the technical studies from the grade book.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

At Debut, candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

In the sight reading test, the examiner will give the candidate a 4–6 bar melody in the key of C major, to be played unaccompanied. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. After the practise time, the examiner will ask the candidate to commence the test.

  • Minimum tempo = 60 bpm.
  • Candidates are tested on their ability to perform previously unseen pitches and rhythms. No dynamics are shown, however, candidates should maintain an even tone quality throughout.
  • While the assessed part of 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Key: C major
Tempo: 60bpm
Time signature: 4/4

The Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test is in the form of a 4–6 bar chord progression, with all chord symbols indicated.

Candidates may improvise either a melodic line or a chordal part to complement the backing track. Candidates will have 90 seconds to prepare after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. For the first play through, there will be four clicks. For the test, there will be a one bar count-in. During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

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

Ear Tests

At Debut there is one ear test, assessing melodic recall skills. An example is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall

Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Minims (half notes)

The examiner will play two minims one after the other. Candidates are to state whether the second note is higher or lower in pitch than the first note. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by four clicks. There will also be a C root note at the beginning of the test for reference. For this exercise, candidates are to use the words ‘higher’ or ‘lower’.

Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At Debut candidates will be asked five questions on topics relating to their choice of piece performed in the examination, and general musical and instrumental knowledge.

Music Knowledge

At Debut candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The treble and bass staves
  • The treble and bass clefs
  • Note pitch names (within treble stave only)
  • Minim (half) and crotchet (quarter) note values

Instrument Knowledge

In Debut candidates will be asked to identify:

  • One of the following parts of piano: black and white keys, middle C (C4)

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 Piano
Grade 1

The Grade 1 Piano exam is for candidates who have mastered the key basic debut level skills and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. There is also an opportunity to build on basic improvisation.

There are two types of exams available at Grade 1, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face exam or recorded video exam and is also available in some centres as a live-streamed video exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 15 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Piano 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 Piano Grade 1

The essential syllabus for the aspiring pianist. RSL Classical Piano Grade 1 will provide you wit...
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 designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Anne Crosby Gaudet – Boogie Woogie Bear
  • Gustav Holst – Jupiter
  • August Eberhard Müller – The Cuckoo
  • Zenobia Powell Perry – Orrin and Echo
  • Robert Schumann – Soldier’s March
  • Ignatius Sancho – Le Douze de Decembre
  • Trad. Chinese – Jasmine Flower
  • Kristen Anderson-Lopez / Robert Lopez – All Is Found
  • Carolyn Miller – Cat and Mouse
  • Christian Petzold – Minuet in G

Technical Exercises

At Grade 1 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies.

All scales and arpeggios need to be played hands separately, in straight feel, ascending and descending. Pentatonic scales are right hand only.

  • Major scales, minor scales and broken chords need to be played hands separately, ascending and descending, in the keys and octaves shown.
  • Candidates must choose to play either natural minor or harmonic minor or melodic minor scales in the exam. The examiner will ask the candidate to state which set of minor scales they have prepared.
  • Pentatonic scales are right hand only.
  • Groups A (scales)and Group B (broken chords) must be played from memory.
  • Candidates may use their book for Group C (technical studies).
    All groups are played unaccompanied (without metronome or click).
  • Any fingerings shown are suggestions only.
  • Candidates will be marked on tone quality and consistency, maintenance of pulse, and accuracy. Performances slower than the stated minimum tempo may be subject to qualitative judgement by the examiner, according to extent and commensurate with the grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Range: Two octaves
Rhythms: Quavers (eighth notes), finishing on a crotchet (quarter note) Minimum tempo: 66bpm

  • F major (right hand)
  • F major (left hand)
  • G major (right hand)
  • G major (left hand)
  • D natural/harmonic/melodic minor (right hand)
  • D natural/harmonic/melodic minor (left hand)
  • E natural/harmonic/melodic minor (right hand)
  • E natural/harmonic/melodic minor (left hand)
  • F major pentatonic (right hand)
  • G major pentatonic (right hand)
  • D minor pentatonic (right hand)
  • E minor pentatonic (right hand)

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Minimum Tempo: 100bpm
Time signature: 3/4
Rhythms: Crotchets (quarter notes), finishing on a dotted minim (dotted half note)

  • F major broken chord (right hand)
  • F major broken chord (left hand)
  • G major broken chord (right hand)
  • G major broken chord (left hand)
  • D minor broken chord (right hand)
  • D minor broken chord (left hand)
  • E minor broken chord (right hand)
  • E minor broken chord (left hand)

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Minimum tempo: 80bpm
Candidates perform their choice of one of the technical studies from the grade book.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

At Grade 1, candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: F major or G major
Minimum tempo: 70bpm
Time signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Minims (half notes), crotchets (quarter notes), associated rests

In the sight reading test, the examiner will give candidates a 4–6 bar melody in the key of either G major or F major. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. After the practise time, the examiner will ask candidates to commence the test.

  • All sight reading tests at Grade 1 should be played at a minimum tempo = 70 bpm.
  • At Grade 1, candidates are tested on their ability to perform previously unseen pitches and rhythms. No dynamics are shown, however, an even tone quality should be maintained throughout.
  • While the assessed part of 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Key: F major or G major
Tempo: 70bpm
Time signature: 4/4

In the Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test, the examiner will give candidates a 4–6 bar chord progression in the key of either G major or F major. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to prepare, after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is 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. Tempo = 70bpm.

  • At Grade 1, candidates have the choice to improvise either a melodic line or a chordal part to complement the backing track.
  • During the preparation time, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
  • The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

At Grade 1 there is one ear test, assessing melodic recall skills. An example is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall

Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole, half notes

The examiner will play three notes one after the other. Candidates are to state whether the second note is higher or lower in pitch than the first and whether the third note is higher or lower in pitch than the second. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar metronome click. There will also be a C root note at the beginning of the test for reference. For this exercise, candidates are to use the words ‘higher’ or ‘lower’.

Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At Grade 1 candidates will be asked five questions on topics relating to their choice of piece performed in the examination and on general musical and instrumental knowledge.

Music Knowledge

In Grade 1 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The location of the time signature
  • The location of treble and bass clefs
  • Note pitch names (within bass and treble stave only)
  • Semibreve (whole), minim (half), crotchet (quarter), quaver  (eighth) note values
  • The construction of a major triad (tonic, major 3rd, perfect 5th, root position only)

Instrument Knowledge

In Grade 1 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • One of the following parts of the piano: middle C (C4), sustain/damper pedal, hammers, strings.

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 Piano
Grade 2

The Grade 2 Piano exam is for candidates who have mastered the key basic skills up to Grade 1 and since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. There is also the continuing opportunity to develop improvisation skills.

There are two types of exam available at Grade 2, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face exam or recorded video exam and is also available in some centres as a live-streamed video exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 20 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 15 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Piano Grade 2 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 2 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 Piano Grade 2

The essential syllabus for the aspiring pianist. RSL Classical Piano Grade 2 will provide you wit...
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 designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Nikki Iles – The Cheshire Cat
  • Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther Theme
  • Glenda Austin – Tarantella in G minor
  • Simone Plé – Le Chant du Pâtre
  • Ludovico Einaudi – Elegy for the Arctic
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Für Elise
  • Helen Madden – The Midnight Swan
  • Ignatius Sancho – Christmas Eve
  • Alexis Ffrench – Together at Last
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Minuet in D

Technical Exercises

At Grade 2 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies.

  • Major scales, minor scales and arpeggios need to be played hands together, ascending and descending, in the keys and octaves shown.
  • Candidates must choose to play either natural minor or harmonic minor or melodic minor scales in the exam. The examiner will ask the candidate to state which set of minor scales they have prepared.
  • Pentatonic scales are right hand only.
  • Groups A and B (scales & arpeggios) must be played from memory.
  • Candidates may use their book for Group C (Technical Studies).
    All groups are played unaccompanied (without metronome or click).
  • Any fingerings shown are suggestions only.
  • Candidates will be marked on tone quality and consistency, maintenance of pulse, and accuracy. Performances slower than the stated minimum tempo may be subject to qualitative judgement by the examiner, according to extent and commensurate with the grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Minimum Tempo: 66bpm
Range: Two octaves
Rhythms: Quavers (eighth notes), finishing on a crotchet (quarter note)

  • Dbmajor
  • Bb major
  • B natural minor
  • G natural minor
  • B harmonic minor
  • G harmonic minor

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Minimum Tempo: 63bpm
Time signature: 3/4, 4/4
Rhythms: 3/4: Quavers (eighth notes), finishing on a dotted minim (dotted half note) | 4/4: Quavers, finishing on a semibreve (whole note)

  • D major arpeggio
  • Bb major arpeggio
  • B minor arpeggio
  • G minor arpeggio

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Minimum tempo: 60bpm
Candidates perform their choice of one of the technical studies from the grade book.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

At Grade 2 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: B b major or D major
Tempo: 60–95 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Semibreve (whole note), dotted minim (dotted half), minim (half), crotchets (quarter) notes, associated rests.

In the sight reading test, the examiner will give candidates a 4–6 bar piece in D major or Bb major, to be played unaccompanied. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. After the practise time, the examiner will ask candidates to commence the test.

  • All sight reading tests at Grade 2 should be played at a minimum tempo = 80 bpm.
  • At Grade 2, candidates are tested on their ability to perform previously unseen pitches, rhythms and basic dynamics (mf, mp).
  • While the assessed part of 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 the 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Key: Bb major or D major
Tempo: 60–95 bpm Time
Signature: 4/4

In the Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test, the examiner will give candidates a 4–6 bar chord progression in the key of either Dmajor or Bb major. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to prepare, after which 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. Tempo = 60–95.

  • At this grade, candidates have the choice to improvise either a melodic line or a chordal part to complement the backing track.
  • During the preparation time, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
  • The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

At Grade 2 there is one ear test, assessing melodic recall skills. An example is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall

Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Minims (half notes)

The examiner will play a two-bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, with a range up to a fourth. There will be a C root note at the beginning of the test, then the melody will be played twice, each preceded by four clicks. After this, there will be a one-bar count-in and then candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. The first note of the melody will be the root.

It is acceptable for candidates to play over the track as the test is being played and there will be 10 seconds to practise after the second playing. The piano can be used to assist at any time prior to being counted in to perform the exam version.

General Musicianship Questions

At Grade 2 candidates will be asked five questions on topics relating to their choice of piece performed in the examination and on general musical and instrumental knowledge.

Music Knowledge

In Grade 2 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The location and meaning of the time signature marking
  • Note pitch names (within bass and treble staves only)
  • Semibreve (whole), minim (half), crotchet (quarter), quaver (eighth), semiquaver (16th) note and rest values
  • The location of dynamic markings found in the piece (pp, p, mp, mf, f and ff)
  • The construction of a major (tonic, major 3rd, perfect 5th) or minor (tonic, minor 3rd, perfect 5th) triad (root position only)

Instrument Knowledge

In Grade 2 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Two of the following parts of piano: middle C (C4), sustain/damper pedal, hammers, and strings.

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 Piano
Grade 3

The Grade 3 Piano exam is for candidates ready to consolidate their final stage as beginner players. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 2 and since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. Improvisation phrasing is now confident and articulate and candidates have started to develop the beginnings of stylistic awareness.

There are two types of exams available at Grade 3, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face exam or recorded video exam and is also available in some centres as a live-streamed video exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 18 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Piano 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 Piano Grade 3

The essential syllabus for the aspiring pianist. RSL Classical Piano Grade 3 will provide you wit...
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:

  • Teresa Richert – Sniffing Around
  • Alexis Ffrench – Bluebird
  • Christine Donkin – Witches and Wizards
  • Muzio Clementi – Allegro
  • Nikki Iles – Lost Boys Blues
  • Franz Joseph Haydn – Allegro
  • Jóhann Jóhannsson – A Model of the Universe
  • Camille Saint-Saëns – The Elephant
  • Mona Rejino – Nocturne
  • Béla Bartók – Dance

Technical Exercises

At Grade 3 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies.

Major scales, minor scales and arpeggios need to be played hands together, ascending and descending, in the keys and octaves shown.
Candidates must choose to play either natural minor or harmonic minor or melodic minor scales in the exam. The examiner will ask the candidate to state which set of minor scales they have prepared.
Pentatonic scales are right hand only.
Groups A and B (scales & arpeggios) must be played from memory. Candidates may use their book for Group C
(Technical Studies).
All groups are played unaccompanied (without metronome or click).
Any fingerings shown are suggestions only.
Candidates will be marked on tone quality and consistency, maintenance of pulse, and accuracy. Performances slower than the stated minimum tempo may be subject to qualitative judgement by the examiner, according to extent and commensurate with the grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Minimum Tempo: 80 bpm
Range: Two octaves
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter note

A major
Eb major
F# natural/harmonic/melodic minor
C natural/harmonic/melodic minor
Eb major pentatonic (right hand)
A major pentatonic (right hand)
C minor pentatonic (right hand)
F# minor pentatonic (right hand)

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Minimum Tempo: 69bpm
Time signature: 3/4, 4/4
Rhythms: 3/4: Quavers (eighth notes), finishing on a dotted minim (dotted half note) | 4/4: Quavers, finishing on a semibreve (whole note)

  • A major arpeggio
  • Eb major arpeggio
  • F# minor arpeggio
  • C minor arpeggio

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Candidates perform their choice of one of the technical studies from the grade book.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

At Grade 3 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: Eb major or A major
Tempo: 60–95 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Semibreve (whole), dotted minim (dotted half), minim (half), dotted crotchet (dotted quarter), crotchet (quarter), quaver (eighth) notes, quaver ties, associated rests.
Dynamic Markings: mf, mp
Articulation: staccato, legato

In the sight reading test, the examiner will give candidates a 4– 6 bar piece in A major or Eb major, to be played unaccompanied. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. After the practise time, the examiner will ask candidates to commence the test. While the assessed part of 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 the 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Key: Eb major or A major
Tempo: 60–95 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4

In the Contemporary Improvisation & Interpretation test, the examiner will give candidates a 4–6 bar chord progression in the key of either A major or Eb major. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to prepare, after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is 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. Tempo = 60–95bpm.

  • At this grade, candidates have the choice to improvise either a melodic line or a chordal part to complement the backing track.
  • During the preparation time, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
  • The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

At Grade 3 there is one ear test, assessing melodic recall skills. An example is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall

Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Minims (half notes), crotchets (quarter notes)

The examiner will play a two-bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, with a range up to a fifth. There will be a C root note at the beginning of the test, then the melody will be played twice, each preceded by four clicks. After this, there will be a one-bar count-in and then candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. The first note of the melody will be the root.

It is acceptable for candidates to play over the track as the test is being played and there will be 10 seconds to practise after the second playing. The piano can be used to assist at any time prior to being counted in to perform the exam version.

Note: the 10 seconds is pre-recorded on the audio track so the count-in for the exam version may begin while candidates are still practising.

General Musicianship Questions

Grade 3 candidates will be asked five questions on topics relating to their choice of the piece performed in the examination and on general musical and instrumental knowledge.

Music Knowledge

In Grade 3 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The location and meaning of the time or key signature marking
  • Note pitch names (bass and treble staves plus two ledger lines)
  • Semibreve (whole), minim (half), crotchet (quarter), quaver (eighth), semiquaver (16th) note and rest values
  • The location and meaning of dynamic markings found in the piece (pp, p, mp, mf, f and ff) and cresc. and dim. plus hairpins
  • The construction of a major (tonic, major 3rd, perfect 5th) or minor (tonic, minor 3rd, perfect 5th) or dominant 7th (tonic, major 3rd, perfect 5th, flattened 7th) chords (root position only)

Instrument Knowledge

In Grade 3 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • Identify the location and function of the sustain/damper pedal
  • Explain how the sound is produced when a key is pressed

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 Piano
Grade 4

The Grade 4 Piano exam is for candidates who are ready for intermediate level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 3 and since acquired greater use of technique, more complex rhythms, co-ordination 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 types of exams available at Grade 4, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate, which can be booked as a face-to-face exam or recorded video exam and is also available in some centres as a live-streamed video exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 22 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

Classical grades for the modern musician. RSL Classical Piano 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 Piano Grade 4

The essential syllabus for the aspiring pianist. RSL Classical Piano Grade 4 will provide you wit...
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:

  • Naoko Ikeda – Moonlight Rose
  • Friedrich – Burgmüller Barcarolle
  • Valerie Capers – Billie’s Song
  • Florence Price – Ticklin’ Toes
  • Lola Perrin – The Arrival
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Lustig — Traurig
  • Franz Joseph Haydn – Allegro in F
  • Bowen Liu – Monochrome No. 2
  • Zenobia Powell Perry – Round and Round
  • Johann Sebastian Bach – Prelude in C

Technical Exercises

At Grade 4 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Technical Studies.

Major and contrary motion scales, minor scales, chromatic scales and arpeggios need to be played hands together, in legato feel, ascending and descending, in the keys and octaves shown.

  • Candidates must choose to play either natural minor or harmonic minor or melodic minor scales in the exam. The examiner will ask the candidate to state which set of minor scales they have prepared.
  • Pentatonic scales are right hand only.
  • Groups A and B (scales & arpeggios) must be played from memory. Candidates may use their book for Group C
    (Technical Studies).
  • All groups are played unaccompanied (without metronome or click).
  • Any fingerings shown are suggestions only.
  • Candidates will be marked on tone quality and consistency, maintenance of pulse, and accuracy. Performances slower than the stated minimum tempo may be subject to qualitative judgement by the examiner, according to extent and commensurate with the grade.

 

GROUP A – Scales

Minimum Tempo: 104 bpm
Range: Two octaves
Rhythms: Quavers (eighth notes), finishing on a crotchet (quarter note).

  • E major
  • E major (contrary motion)
  • Ab major
  • Ab major (contrary motion)
  • C# natural/harmonic/melodic minor
  • F natural/harmonic/melodic minor
  • Ab major pentatonic (right hand)
  • E major pentatonic (right hand)
  • F minor pentatonic (right hand)
  • C# minor pentatonic (right hand)
  • Chromatic scale starting on any black key (named by the examiner)

 

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Minimum Tempo: 76bpm
Time signature: 3/4, 4/4
Rhythms: 3/4: Eighth notes, finishing on a dotted half note. 4/4: Eighth notes, finishing on a whole note.

  • E major arpeggio
  • Ab major arpeggio
  • C# minor arpeggio
  • F minor arpeggio

 

GROUP C – Technical Studies

Candidates perform their choice of one of the technical studies from the grade book.

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading or Improvisation & Interpretation

At Grade 4 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: Ab major or E major
Tempo: 60–130 bpm
Time Signature: simple (3/4, 4/4) or compound (6/8)
Rhythms: Whole, dotted half, half, dotted quarter, quarter, eighth notes, associated rests.
Dynamic Markings: p, mp, mf, f
Articulation: staccato, legato

In the sight reading test, the examiner will give candidates an 8 bar piece in E major or A b major, to be played unaccompanied. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise. After the practise time, the examiner will ask candidates to commence the test. While the assessed part of 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 the 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

Key: Ab major or E major
Tempo: 60–130 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4

In the Improvisation & Interpretation test, the examiner will give candidates an 8–12 bar chord progression in the key of either E major or Ab major. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practise, after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is 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. Tempo = 60–130bpm.

  • At this grade, candidates have the choice to improvise either a melodic line or a chordal part to complement the backing track.
  • During the preparation time, you will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.
  • The backing track is continuous, so once the first playthrough has finished, the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

At Grade 4 there is one ear test, assessing melodic recall skills. An example is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall

Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Minims (half notes), crotchets (quarter notes)

The examiner will play a two-bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, with a range up to a sixth.

There will be a C root note at the beginning of the test, then the melody will be played twice, each preceded by four clicks. After this, there will be a one-bar count-in and then candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click.

The first note of the melody will be the root.

It is acceptable for candidates to play over the track as the test is being played and there will be 10 seconds to practise after the second playing. The piano can be used to assist at any time prior to being counted in to perform the exam version.

Note: the 10 seconds is pre-recorded on the audio track so the count-in for the exam version may begin while candidates are still practising.

General Musicianship Questions

At Grade 4 candidates will be asked five questions on topics relating to their choice of piece performed in the examination and on general musical and instrumental knowledge.

Music Knowledge

In Grade 4 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The location and meaning of the time and key signature markings
  • Any note pitch name (bass and treble staves plus three ledger lines)
  • Any note and rest values within the chosen piece
  • Repeat marks, first and second time bars, D.C., D.S., al Coda and al Fine markings
  • The location and meaning of expressive musical marking found in the piece including dynamic markings (pp, p, mp, mf, f and ff) and cresc. and dim, hairpins, and rit. rall. a tempo, subito, simile, molto and poco a poco
  • The construction of a major (tonic, major 3rd, perfect 5th) and minor (tonic, minor 3rd, perfect 5th) and dominant 7th (tonic, major 3rd, perfect 5th, flattened 7th) chords (root position, 1st and 2nd inversions)

Instrument Knowledge

In Grade 4 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The location and function of soft pedal and sustain pedal
  • A brief explanation of the genre and historical context of the chosen piece (from fact file or own research -from memory, no
    use of notes or book)

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 t