Rockschool

Learn to Play Keyboard

The Rockschool Keys syllabus provides contemporary pianists and keyboard players with an essential resource to improve their skills and abilities. This syllabus covers a broad range of topics, from keyboard-specific sound manipulation to developing traditional pianistic techniques. Explore new creative possibilities on the keyboard with Rockschool’s keyboard syllabus – an indispensable tool for any serious keys player.

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Ability to Specialise

The tracks featured at each Grade are split into three keyboard-specific and three piano-specific hit tunes. We want you to plot your stylistic specialism, helping you to develop an in-depth understanding of the type of music that appeals to you most, whether that’s a particular genre, keyboard-specific sound manipulation or developing traditional pianistic techniques.

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Keyboard-specific Repertoire

The Rockschool Keys Grades feature a collection of meticulously researched and suitably arranged hit tunes from the world’s greatest artists, films and musicals. The tracks have been devised for students to learn through the music they love with repertoire arranged and benchmarked with the key technical skills required at each Grade. These keyboard-specific arrangements utilise varied levels of sound manipulation, patch switching, layers and splits. Due to these specifications we ask that all candidates bring their own keyboard on the day, along with a music stand.

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Brand New Hit Tunes

The Rockschool keyboard repertoire provides students with an expansive song choice, from a diverse range of genres, including tracks from Ariana Grande, Chvrches, Michael Jackson, Kate Bush, Stevie Wonder, Tori Amos, Eurythmics, Snarky Puppy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Schindler’s List and and many, many more. With 9 levels of keyboard grades, all abilities are covered.

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Downloadable Audio

Download all of your backing tracks for your keyboard practice: examples, performances and practice materials directly from our online store. On our stores you’ll find all you need to pass your keyboard exam.

Learn the keyboard with Rockschool

Whether you’re learning to play the keyboard or teaching the keyboard, Rockschool is here to support your journey.

Rockschool Video Contemporary Keyboards

How it works

Whether you’re learning the keyboard independently or with a music teacher, it’s easy to get started learning with Rockschool.

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 Rockschool qualification after putting in the hours of dedication towards mastering your instrument. 

Keys
Debut

The Rockschool Keyboard syllabus is an essential resource for contemporary pianists and keyboard players. Created with the modern musician in mind, it equips all aspiring keyboard players with the knowledge needed to confidently perform within the dynamic world of popular music.

Estimated Examination Time:

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

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys 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 recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

1

Keys Debut

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys Debut will provide you wi...
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 pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can concentrate on the requirements of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality / consistency, technical control and sync at a beginner level, including; single patch settings, layers and the basic use of effects/sound manipulation.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Beauty and the Beast – Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson
  • Next to Me – Emeli Sandé
  • Imagine – John Lennon
  • One Love / People Get Ready – Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • Mr. Brightside – The Killers
  • Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers

Technical Exercises

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

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

The examiner will ask for a selection from each group and Groups A and B need to be played to a compulsory metronome click. Group C does not require a metronome and can be played at a tempo of the candidate’s choice.

The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B. Group C needs to be played from memory. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books.

Note: the use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will result in a deduction of marks for this element. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A – Scales

Tempo: 52bpm
Range: One octave
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a 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

Tempo: 92bpm
Time signatures: 3/4
Rhythms: Quarter notes, finishing on a dotted half note

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

GROUP C – Chord Voicings

  • C major
  • C minor

Candidates need to play either the C major voicings or the C minor voicings from memory. The examiner will state the exercise. This test is performed in free time (without backing track or click), but the examiner will be looking for the speed of your response.

Supporting Tests

At Debut, candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: C major
Tempo: 60bpm
Time signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half, quarter notes, associated rests

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 4–6 bar melody.

Candidates are required to play hands separately and only single notes will be required to be played with both left and right hands.

Candidates will have 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 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.

Improvisation and Interpretation

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

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

Candidates are required to improvise single note melodies with either left or right hand. It is permissible to play chord voicings, or use both hands, but marks will only be awarded for melodic content.

Candidates will have 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. 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 are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Chord Recognition. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Half notes

The examiner will play two half notes 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 a one-bar count-in. 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

Chord Recognition
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play two chords, each with a C root note. Candidates are to state which chord played was major and which chord played was minor. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar count-in. Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At debut candidates will be asked five questions, one from each of the following groups:

  • One question relating to harmony
  • One question relating to melody
  • One question relating to rhythms
  • One question relating to technical requirements
  • One question relating to genre

Candidates can choose the piece on which basis the questions will be asked. It must be one of the pieces performed in the exam. The exact bars or phrases will be chosen by the examiner.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Group 1: Harmony
Identification of major / minor triad chord symbols.

Group 2: Melody
A pitch in the treble clef within the stave.

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole / half / quarter notes.

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used in a crotchet length phrase. (Either hand.)

Group 5: Genre
Genre of the piece.

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

Keys
Grade 1

The Grade 1 Keyboard exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for six months to one year. They have mastered the key basic debut level skills and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding.

At Keyboard Grade 1 you will be examined on your choice of three performance pieces from artists such as Taylor Swift, Bat For Lashes and Rag’n’Bone Man, with some keyboard-specific techniques that could include single patch settings, layers and the basic use of effects/sound manipulation (eg. pitch bend).

Estimated Examination Time:

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

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys 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 recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

1

Keys Grade 1

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys Grade 1 will provide you ...
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 pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can concentrate on the requirements of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/ consistency, technical control and sync at a beginner level.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake
  • Tattooed Heart – Ariana Grande
  • Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  • Daniel – Bat For Lashes
  • Human – Rag’n’Bone Man
  • Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift

Technical Exercises

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

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

The examiner will ask for a selection from each group and Groups A and B need to be played to a compulsory metronome click. Group C does not require a metronome and can be played at a tempo of the candidate’s choice.

The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B. Group C needs to be played from memory. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books.

Note: the use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will result in a deduction of marks for this element. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A – Scales

Tempo: 60 bpm
Range: Two Octaves
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter note

  • F major (right hand)
  • F major (left hand)
  • G major (right hand)
  • G major (left hand)
  • D natural minor (right hand)
  • D natural minor (left hand)
  • E natural minor (right hand)
  • E natural 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
Tempo: 100bpm
Time signature: 3/4
Rhythms: Quarter notes, finishing on a 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 natural minor broken chord (right hand)
  • D natural minor broken chord (left hand)
  • E natural minor broken chord (right hand)
  • E natural minor broken chord (left hand)
  • C augmented arpeggio (right hand)
  • C augmented arpeggio (left hand)
  • C diminished arpeggio (right hand)
  • C diminished arpeggio (left hand)

GROUP C – Chord Voicings

  • C diminished
  • C augmented

Candidates will be asked to play either the C diminished or the C augmented triads from memory.

The examiner will state the exercise. This test is performed in free time (without backing track or click), but the examiner will be looking for the speed of your response.

Supporting Tests

At Grade 1, 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: F major or G major
Tempo: 70bpm
Time signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half, quarter notes, associated rests

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 4–6 bar melody.

Candidates will have 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 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

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

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

Candidates are required to improvise single note melodies with either left or right hand. It is permissible to play chord voicings, or use both hands, but marks will only be awarded for melodic content.

Candidates will have 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. 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 Grade 1 there are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Chord Recognition. Both are previously unseen and an example of each 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 count-in. 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.

Chord Recognition
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play a sequence of chords each with a C root note, then ask the candidate to state the chord quality of each chord from a choice of major, minor, diminished or augmented. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar count-in.

Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At Grade 1 candidates will be asked five questions, one from each of the following groups:

  • One question relating to harmony
  • One question relating to melody
  • One question relating to rhythms
  • One question relating to technical requirements
  • One question relating to genre

Candidates can choose the piece on which basis the questions will be asked. It must be one of the pieces performed in the exam.

The exact bars or phrases will be chosen by the examiner.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Group 1: Harmony
Interval construction of major / minor / augmented / diminished triad chords

Group 2: Melody
Pitches in the bass clef within the stave.

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole, half, quarter, eighth notes, associated rests. Eighth note triplets.

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used in a minim length phrase. (Either hand).

Group 5: Genre
Different artists from the same genre as the piece chosen.

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

Keys
Grade 2

The Grade 2 Keys exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for one year to eighteen months. They have mastered the basic skills up to Grade 1 and have since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. There is also the continuing opportunity to develop improvisation skills.

At Keyboard Grade 2 you will be examined on your choice of three performance pieces from artists such as Kate Bush, Nina Simone and Pharrell Williams, with some keyboard-specific techniques that could include single patch settings, layers and the basic use of effects/sound manipulation (eg. pitch bend).

Estimated Examination Time:

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

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys 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 recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

1

Keys Grade 2

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys Grade 2 will provide you ...
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 pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 2 they are becoming longer, typically one to two minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can concentrate on greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding, including; single patch settings, layers and the basic use of effects/sound manipulation.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Roar – Katy Perry
  • Feeling Good – Nina Simone
  • Running up That Hill – Kate Bush
  • Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
  • Happy – Pharrell Williams
  • This is Me – The Greatest Showman

Technical Exercises

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

Major scales, minor scales and arpeggios need to be played hands together, in straight feel, ascending and descending. Candidates can choose to play either natural minor or harmonic minor scales in
the exam. Pentatonic scales are right hand only, and the C blues scale needs to be performed hands separately.

The examiner will ask for a selection from each group and Groups A and B need to be played to a compulsory metronome click. Group C does not require a metronome and can be played at a tempo of the candidate’s choice.

The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B. Group C needs to be played from memory. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books or ensure the information on the KR player is out of view.

Note: the use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will result in a deduction of marks for this element. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A – Scales

Tempo: 66bpm
Range: Two octaves (chromatic one octave)
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter note

  • B-flat major
  • D major
  • G natural minor
  • B natural minor
  • G harmonic minor
  • B harmonic minor
  • B-flat major pentatonic
  • D major pentatonic
  • G minor pentatonic
  • B minor pentatonic
  • C blues (right hand)
  • C blues (left hand)

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Tempo: 63bpm
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.

  • B-flat major
  • D major
  • G minor
  • B minor
  • C major seventh
  • C minor seventh

GROUP C – Chord Voicings
Candidates will be asked to play one of the following chord exercises:

  • Major 7th
  • Minor 7th
  • Dominant 7th

Candidates will be asked to play one of the 7th chord exercises below, from memory. This test is performed in free time (without backing track or click), but the examiner will be looking for the speed of your response

Supporting Tests

Sight Reading

Key: Bb major or D major
Tempo: 60-95 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, dotted half, half, quarter, eighth notes, associated rests.

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 4–6 bar melody.

Candidates will have 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. 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

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

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

Candidates are required to improvise single note melodies with either left or right hand. It is permissible to play chord voicings, or use both hands, but marks will only be awarded for melodic content.

Candidates will have 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. 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 Grade 2 there are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Chord Recognition. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall
Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half, quarter notes

The examiner will play a 2 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. After this, candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. Both playings of the melody and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

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.

Chord Recognition
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play a sequence of chords each with a C root note, then ask the candidate to state the chord quality of each chord from a choice of major, minor, diminished, augmented or dominant 7. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar count-in.

The same chord quality may appear more than once within the sequence. Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At Grade 2 candidates will be asked five questions, one from each of the following groups:

  • One question relating to harmony
  • One question relating to melody
  • One question relating to rhythms
  • One question relating to technical requirements
  • One question relating to genre

Candidates can choose the piece on which basis the questions will be asked. It must be one of the pieces performed in the exam. The exact bars or phrases will be chosen by the examiner.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Group 1: Harmony
Interval construction of major / minor triad, augmented / diminished triad, dom7 / sus4 chords.

Group 2: Melody
Pitches in the treble clef within the stave.

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole, half, quarter, eighth notes, dotted quarters and eighth notes, associated rests. Eighth note triplets and associated rests

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used in a bar length phrase. (Either hand)

Group 5: Genre
Different song titles from the same genre as the piece chosen.

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

Keys
Grade 3

The Grade 3 Keys exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for eighteen months to two years and who are ready to consolidate their final stage as a beginner player. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 2 and since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. Candidates have started to develop the beginnings of stylistic awareness.

At Keyboard Grade 3 you will be examined on your choice of three performance pieces from artists such as Eurythmics, Adele and Marvin Gaye, with some keyboard-specific techniques that could include single patch settings, layers and the basic use of effects/sound manipulation (eg. pitch bend).

Estimated Examination Time:

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

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboard player. Keys 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 recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

1

Keys Grade 3

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys Grade 3 will provide you ...
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 pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 3 they are becoming longer, typically in the region of two minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can continue their understanding and execution of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/consistency, technical control, expression, articulation. At Grade 3 pieces also introduce the needs for stylistic awareness as part of the assessment, as well as single patch settings, layers and the basic use of effects/sound manipulation.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Adventure of a Lifetime – Coldplay
  • I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
  • A Whole New World – Brad Kane and Lea Salonga
  • Skyfall – Adele
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics

Technical Exercises

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

Major, natural and harmonic minor scales and arpeggios need to be played hands together, in straight or swung feel, ascending and descending. Pentatonic scales are right hand only. The melodic minor scale needs to be played hands separately, and the chromatic scale on A needs to be played hands together.

The examiner will ask for a selection from each group and A, B and C need to be played to a compulsory metronome click.

The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B. Group C needs to be played from memory. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books.

Note: the use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will result in a deduction of marks for this element. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A – Scales

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

  • E-flat major
  • A major
  • C natural minor
  • F-sharp natural minor
  • C harmonic minor
  • F-sharp harmonic minor
  • E-flat major pentatonic (right hand)
  • A major pentatonic (right hand)
  • C minor pentatonic (right hand)
  • F-sharp pentatonic (right hand)
  • C melodic minor (right hand)
  • C melodic minor (left hand)
  • Chromatic scale on A (right hand)
  • Chromatic scale on A (left hand)

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Tempo: 69 bpm
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-flat major
  • A major
  • C minor
  • F-sharp minor
  • C dominant seventh
  • C minor sixth

GROUP C – Chord Voicings
Tempo: 80 bpm
Rhythm: Half notes

Candidates will be asked to play one of the following chord exercises:

  • C major harmonised scale in 7ths (root in bass)
  • C major harmonised scale in 7ths (3rd in bass)

Candidates will be asked to play one of harmonised scale exercises from memory. The examiner will state the exercise. This exercise is performed to a metronome click.

Supporting Tests

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: Whole, dotted half, half, dotted quarter, quarter, eighth notes, eighth note ties, associated rests.

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 4–8 bar melody.

Candidates will have 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 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

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

The Improvisation test is in the form of a 4–8 bar chord progression, with all chord symbols indicated.

Candidates are required to improvise single note melodies with either left or right hand. It is permissible to play chord voicings, or use both hands, but marks will only be awarded for melodic content.

Candidates will have 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. 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 Grade 3 there are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Chord Recognition. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall
Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half, quarter notes

The examiner will play a 2 bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, with a range up to a fifth.

The examiner will play a 2 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. After this, candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. Both playings of the melody and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

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.

Chord Recognition
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play a sequence of chords each with a C root note, then ask the candidate to state the chord quality of two of the chords from a choice of major, minor, diminished, augmented, dominant 7 and major 7th. The examiner will select which two chords.

The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar count-in. Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At Grade 3 candidates will be asked five questions, one from each of the following groups:

  • One question relating to harmony
  • One question relating to melody
  • One question relating to rhythms
  • One question relating to technical requirements
  • One question relating to genre

Candidates can choose the piece on which basis the questions will be asked. It must be one of the pieces performed in the exam. The exact bars or phrases will be chosen by the examiner.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Group 1: Harmony
Chord degrees of the scale.

Group 2: Melody
Identification of pitches in the bass clef within the stave.

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole, half, quarter, eighth and associated dotted notes/rests, quarter/eighth note triplets and associated rests within one crotchet length.

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used in a bar length phrase. (Both hands.)

Group 5: Genre
Different artists and song titles from the same genre as the piece chosen.

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

Keys
Grade 4

The Grade 4 Keyboard exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for two to three years and 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, including; patch switching, solos, layers, splits and specialist styles.

Candidates will be developing a sense of expression and continuing to broaden their stylistic awareness, and will be growing in assurance and articulation.

The Grade 4 exams will introduce you to a range of repertoire from Chvrches, Elton John and The Specials.

Estimated Examination Time:

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

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboard player. Keys 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 recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

1

Keys Grade 4

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary keyboardist. Keys Grade 4 will provide you ...
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 pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 4 they are typically in the region of two to two and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can acquire a solid understanding and execution of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/consistency, technical control, articulation, expression, style awareness and sync at an early intermediate level.

Featured Repertoire:

  • All of Me – John Legend
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
  • Let it Go – Frozen
  • Shut Up & Dance – Walk the Moon
  • Ghost Town – The Specials
  • Recover – Chvrches

Technical Exercises

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

Candidates can choose to play either natural minor or harmonic minor scales
Major and contrary motion scales, minor scales, chromatic scales and arpeggios need to be< played hands together, in straight or swung feel, ascending and descending Pentatonic scales are right hand only Dorian and mixolydian modes need to be played hands separately Groups A, B and C (scales, arpeggios and chords) need to be played from memory, and candidates will be required to close their grade books. Candidates may use the book for Group D (technical studies) The examiner will ask for a selection from groups A, B and C. Candidates can prepare the technical study of their choice from group D. Groups A and B need to be performed to a metronome click. Group C can be performed at a tempo of the candidate’s choice, but the examiner will be looking for the speed of response. The chosen technical study from Group D needs to be performed to a backing track. Note: the use of any notes or any reading from the grade book during the technical exercises will result in a deduction of overall marks for this section. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A – Scales

Tempo: 104 bpm
Range: Two octaves
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter note.

  • A-flat minor
  • A-flat minor (contrary motion)
  • E major
  • E major (contrary motion)
  • C-sharp natural minor
  • F natural minor
  • C-sharp harmonic minor
  • F harmonic minor
  • A-flat major pentatonic (right hand)
  • E major pentatonic (right hand)
  • F minor pentatonic (right hand)
  • C-sharp minor (right hand)
  • C dorian (right hand)
  • C dorian (left hand)
  • C mixolydian (right hand)
  • C mixolydian (left hand)
  • Chromatic scale (starting on any black key stated by examiner)

GROUP B – Arpeggios

Tempo: 76 bpm
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
  • C minor 7 b5 or C half-diminished
  • C diminished 7
  • C minor 9 (right hand)
  • C minor 9 (left hand)
  • C dominant 9 (right hand)
  • C dominant 9 (left hand)

GROUP C – Chord Voicings
Candidates will be asked to play one of the following chord exercises:

  • Major 9
  • Dominant 9
  • Minor 9

Candidates will be asked to play one of the chord exercises from memory. The examiner will state the chord type. This test is performed in free time (without backing track or click), but the examiner will be looking for the speed of your response.

GROUP C – Technical Studies
Candidates will be required to perform one technical study of their choice to the backing track.

Supporting Tests

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.

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 8–12 bar melody.

Candidates will have 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. 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.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Key: Ab major or E major
Tempo: 60-130 bpm
Time Signature: 3/4, 4/4

The Improvisation test is in the form of a 8–12 bar chord progression with all chord symbols indicated. Candidates are required to improvise diatonic single note melodies with right hand and chords in left hand.
Candidates will have 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. 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 Grade 4 there are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Harmonic Recall. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall
Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Half, quarter, eighth notes

The examiner will play a 2 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. After this, candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. Both playings of the melody and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

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.

Harmonic Recall

Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play a chord progression containing chords I, IV, V in any order or combination in the key of C major. Candidates will hear the test twice, then play the chords back to a metronome click. Both playings of the initial test and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

Note: there is no requirement for the chords to be voicing specific but the diatonic progression needs to be correct.

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, one from each of the following groups:

  • One question relating to harmony
  • One question relating to melody
  • One question relating to rhythms
  • One question relating to technical requirements
  • One question relating to genre

Candidates can choose the piece on which basis the questions will be asked. It must be one of the pieces performed in the exam. The exact bars or phrases will be chosen by the examiner.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Group 1: Harmony
Identification of note intervals relative to a chord symbol. (Root/3rd/5th/7th)

Group 2: Melody
Identification of pitches within the stave. (Treble or bass clef)

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth and associated dotted notes/rests and quarter/eighth note triplets and associated rests, up to one crotchet length.

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used to play the 3rd//5th/7th note of a chord.

Group 5: Genre
Melodic / harmonic / rhythmic devices indicative of the genre chosen

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