Rockschool

Vocals – Learn to Sing

Whether you want to perform on stage, nail your next audition, or just want to develop your voice, Rockschool Vocals will help fine-tune your singing technique. Embark on a journey of self-discovery and musical growth, and become the confident and skilled singer you’ve always wanted to be!

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Flexibility

Each singer is unique, and the Rockschool Vocals syllabus gives students flexibility to choose a pathway that suits their voice, with an impressive collection of repertoire and options within the supporting tests.

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Exciting Repertoire

The Rockschool Vocal repertoire provides students with an expansive song choice from a diverse range of genres, including tracks from Camilla Cabello, Ed Sheeran, Ella Fitzgerald, Beyoncé, Adele, Rihanna, Queen, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Skunk Anansie, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Jorja Smith and many more.

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Theoretical Grounding

Every Rockschool Vocals Grade has been designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of musical theory, enabling them to confidently articulate their musical ideas and concepts to other musicians.

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UCAS Points

All Rockschool exams at Grades 6, 7 and 8 are awarded UCAS points,which are vital currency for all university applicants.

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Free Choice Pieces

In addition to the 10 pieces on offer in each of our Grade Books, students are also able to choose two Free Choice Pieces that can serve as performance pieces for the exam. The criteria for each grade can be found here.

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Downloadable Audio

Download all backing tracks, examples, performances and practice materials directly from our online shop.

How it works

Whether you’re learning how to sing 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 vocalist.

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 voice. 

Vocals
Debut

The Vocals Debut exam is for candidates who have been learning a short time and have learnt the basic skills. There are two types of exam available at Debut: Grade Exam or Performance Certificate. Please see the Examinations section for an explanation of the differences.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 15 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 12 minutes (approx.)
RSL GEM Vocals Instruments

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Vocals Debut book contains everything you need to pass your Debut exam – all in one place. You’ll learn basic theory and techniques to develop in later grades.

1

Vocals Debut

The essential syllabus for the aspiring contemporary vocalist. This book will provide you with ev...
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

Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Shakira – Try Everything
  • John Lennon – Imagine
  • Camila Cabello – Havana
  • One Direction – That’s What Makes You Beautiful
  • Little Mix – Change Your Life
  • Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
  • Post Malone – Only Wanna Be with You (Pokémon 25 version)
  • The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)
  • Bill Withers – Lean on Me
  • Junior Senior – Move Your Feet

Technical Exercises

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

There are three groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios and Rhythmic Studies. The scale and arpeggio are to be performed to a click track, the rhythmic study to a backing track. The exercises may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.
GROUP A – Scales
Candidates are to perform the following scale, as written in the grade book:

Scale: Major scale
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: Up to the 5th
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

GROUP B – Arpeggios
Candidates are to perform the following arpeggio, as written in the grade book:

Arpeggio: Major arpeggio
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: Up to the 5th
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group C: Rhythmic Studies
Candidates are to perform the rhythmic study from the grade book. Candidates will hear a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 80bpm.

Supporting Tests

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

Before seeing the tests, the examiner will ask whether the candidate wishes to perform a piece of sight reading or take a test of improvisation and interpretation. Once the candidate has decided, they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements
Candidates will be given a short previously unseen rhythm to perform, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The rhythm will be 4 bars long, all on the note C4. Candidates may sing in any octave. The tempo will be 70bpm.

Process
Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise, after which they will perform the test. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or having a 4-beat count in at the beginning. Whichever option candidates choose, the practice time will start with the examiner playing the root note. Candidates will receive the same choice when performing the test.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements
Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression, over which they will improvise a melody using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The chord progression will be 4 bars long, based on chords I, IV and V, starting and finishing on the root chord (C). The tempo will be 70bpm.

Process
Candidates will hear the backing track three times. Candidates can rehearse during the first and second playthroughs, before performing the improvisation over the third playthrough. Only their improvisation over the final playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with the root note and a 4-beat count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the root note and count in of the second and third playthroughs will start immediately.

Ear Tests

Candidates will be given both of the following ear tests, examples of which are included in the grade book:

  • Test 1: Melodic Recall
  • Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

Test 1: Melodic Recall

    • Requirements: The examiner will play two notes. Candidates will be asked to identify whether the second note is higher or lower than the first. The notes will be in the key of A minor, starting on the root note. The notes will both be whole notes at 80bpm.
    • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat vocal count in. After the second playthrough candidates will give their answer. Candidates should use the words ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ in their answer.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

There are two parts to this test: Rhythm Recall and Identification.

Part 1: Rhythm Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a 2-bar rhythm. Candidates will be asked to sing the rhythm back, on any pitch, using ‘da’ or ‘ba’ vocal sounds. The rhythm will be played on a single note, to a drum backing based on half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes. The tempo will be 80bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should sing the rhythm back. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track so the vocal count in may begin while the candidate is still practising.

Part 2: Identification

  • Requirements: Candidates will be asked to identify the rhythm they heard in Part 1.
  • Process: Candidates will be shown two notated rhythms. They will be asked to identify one which matches the rhythm they heard in Part 1.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these will be music knowledge questions, based on any one of the pieces performed in the exam, the fifth will be about knowledge of the candidate’s own voice. Candidates can use brief demonstrations to support their verbal explanations.

Part 1: General Music Knowledge
There will be four music knowledge questions in relation to one of the pieces performed in the exam. Candidates will be asked which piece they would like to be asked about. If the candidate’s copy of the chosen piece contains extensive handwritten notes the examiner may either use their own version of the score as the basis for the questions or they may request that candidates select a different piece.

Candidates may be asked to identify:

  • The treble clef
  • The time signature
  • A rest (of any value)
  • The rhythmic value of one note, from the following:
      – Whole note
    • – Half note
    • – Quarter note
  • Part 2: Knowledge of the Voice
    There will be one question about the candidate’s knowledge of their voice, chosen by the examiner from the list below. Candidates may be asked:
  • Where is your jaw?
  • Where are your lungs?
  • Why is it important to warm up before singing?

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

Vocals
Grade 1

The Grade 1 Vocals is for candidates who have mastered the key basic skills in vocal performance. There are two types of exam: Grade Exams and Performance Certificates.

The use of a microphone is not mandatory at Grade 1, but candidates may use one if they feel it will enhance their performance.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)
RSL GEM Vocals Instruments

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Vocals Grade 1 books contains everything you need to pass your first Vocals Grade exam – all in one place. You’ll learn core theory and techniques to develop in later grades.

1

Vocals Grade 1

The essential syllabus for the aspiring contemporary vocalist. This book will provide you with ev...
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

Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate.

The ten songs at Grade 1 are:

Featured Repertoire:

  • Queen – We Will Rock You
  • Courtney Bowman – It Means Beautiful (from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie)
  • Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams – A Million Dreams (from The Greatest Showman)
  • Owl City – Fireflies
  • Ben E King – Stand by Me
  • Billie Eilish – I Love You
  • Rihanna – Please Don’t Stop the Music
  • Auli’i Cravalho – How Far I’ll Go (from Moana)
  • Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know
  • Kelvin Jones – Friends

Technical Exercises

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

There are four groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios, Intervals and Technical Studies. The scale, arpeggio and interval are to be performed to a click track, the technical study to a backing track. The exercises may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to perform the following scale, as written in the grade book:

Scale: Major scale
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group B: Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare both of the following arpeggios, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major Arpeggio | Pattern 1
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: Up to the 5th
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Major Arpeggio | Pattern 2
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group C – Intervals

Candidates are to prepare both of the following intervals, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major 2nd, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Major 3rd, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group C – Technical Studies

Candidates are to prepare both the rhythmic study and the melodic study from the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam.

Rhythmic study
If the examiner requests the rhythmic study, candidates will hear a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 110bpm.

Melodic study
If the examiner requests the melodic study, they will ask candidates which Option they are going to perform (Option 1: C major or Option 2: F major). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 90bpm.

Supporting Tests

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

Before seeing the tests, the examiner will ask whether the candidate wishes to perform a piece of sight reading or take a test of improvisation and interpretation. Once the candidate has decided, they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements: Candidates will be given a short previously unseen rhythm to perform, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The rhythm will be 4 bars long, in the key of C major, covering a range of up to a major 3rd. Candidates may sing in any octave. The tempo will be 70bpm.

Process: Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise, after which they will perform the test. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or having a 4-beat count in at the beginning. Whichever option candidates choose, the practice time will start with the examiner playing the root note. Candidates will receive the same choice when performing the test

Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements: Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression, over which they will improvise a melody using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The chord progression will be 4 bars long, based on chords I, IV and V, starting and finishing on the root chord (C). The tempo will be 75bpm.

Process: Candidates will hear the backing track three times. Candidates can rehearse during the first and second playthroughs, before performing the improvisation over the third playthrough. Only their improvisation over the final playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with the root note and a 4-beat count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the root note and count in of the second and third playthroughs will start immediately.

Ear Tests

Candidates will be given both of the following ear tests, examples of which are included in the grade book:

  • Test 1: Melodic Recall
  • Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

Test 1: Melodic Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play three notes. Candidates will be asked to identify whether the last two notes are higher or lower in sequence (i.e. whether the second note is higher or lower than the first, and whether the third note is higher or lower than the second). The notes will be in the key of A minor, starting on the root note. The rhythmic values of the notes may include whole notes and half notes at 85bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat vocal count in. After the second playthrough candidates will give their answer. Candidates should use the words ‘higher’, ‘lower’, ‘up’ or ‘down’ in their answer.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

There are two parts to this test: Rhythm Recall and Identification.

Part 1: Rhythm Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a 2-bar rhythm. Candidates will be asked to sing the rhythm back, on any pitch, using ‘da’ or ‘ba’ vocal sounds. The rhythm will be played on a single note, to a drum backing. The tempo will be 90bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should sing the rhythm back. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track so the vocal count in may begin while the candidate is still practising.

Part 2: Identification

  • Requirements: Candidates will be asked to identify the rhythm they heard in Part 1.
  • Process: Candidates will be shown two notated rhythms. They will be asked to identify one which matches the rhythm they heard in Part 1.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these will be music knowledge questions, based on any one of the pieces performed in the exam, the fifth will be about knowledge of the candidate’s own voice. Candidates can use brief demonstrations to support their verbal explanations.

Part 1: General Music Knowledge
There will be four music knowledge questions in relation to one of the pieces performed in the exam. Candidates will be asked which piece they would like to be asked about. If the candidate’s copy of the chosen piece contains extensive handwritten notes the examiner may either use their own version of the score as the basis for the questions or they may request that candidates select a different piece.

Candidates may be asked to identify:

  • The treble clef
  • The time signature
  • A rest (of any value)
  • The rhythmic value of one note, from the following:
    – Whole note
    – Half note
    – Quarter note

Part 2: Knowledge of the Voice
There will be one question about the candidate’s knowledge of their voice, chosen by the examiner from the list below. Candidates may be asked:

    • Where is your diaphragm?
    • Where is your larynx?
    • What is the difference between head voice and chest voice?
    • Why is it important to warm up before singing?

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

Vocals
Grade 2

At Vocals Grade 2 you’ll focus on the mechanics of professional vocal performance, from tone and dynamics to chest voice and small intervals. Then your skills will be tested in three short performances (five for performance certificate) of a range of Rockschool compositions and your choice of repertoire.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)
RSL GEM Vocals Instruments

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Vocals Grade 2 book is the essential companion to sit your Grade 2 exam, and covers techniques you’ll be tested on such as dynamic changes, working on chest voice, and learning scales and arpeggios.

1

Vocals Grade 2

The essential syllabus for the aspiring contemporary vocalist. This book will provide you with ev...
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

Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate.

The ten songs at grade 2 are:

Featured Repertoire:

  • Anika Noni Rose – Almost There (from The Princess and the Frog)
  • Macy Gray – I Try
  • Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling
  • Childish Gambino – Summertime Magic
  • The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
  • Harry Styles – Sign of the Times
  • Ella Fitzgerald – Summertime
  • Noisettes – Don’t Upset the Rhythm
  • Ellie Goulding – Your Song
  • Ed Sheeran – Afterglow

Technical Exercises

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

There are four groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios, Intervals and Technical Studies. The scale, arpeggio and intervals are to be performed to a click track, the technical study to a backing track. The exercises may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to perform the following scale, as written in the grade book:

Scale: Natural minor scale
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group B: Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare both of the following arpeggios, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Minor arpeggio | Pattern 1
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: Up to the 5th
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Minor arpeggio | Pattern 2
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group C – Intervals

Candidates are to prepare both of the following intervals, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major 3rd, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Minor 3rd, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group C – Technical Studies

Candidates are to prepare both the rhythmic study and the melodic study from the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam.

Rhythmic study
If the examiner requests the rhythmic study, candidates will hear a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 86bpm.

Melodic study
If the examiner requests the melodic study, they will ask candidates which option they are going to perform (Option 1: A major or Option 2: E major). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 100bpm.

Supporting Tests

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

Before seeing the tests, the examiner will ask whether the candidate wishes to perform a piece of sight reading or take a test of improvisation and interpretation. Once the candidate has decided, they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements

Candidates will be given a short previously unseen rhythm to perform, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The rhythm will be 4 bars long, in the key of C major or A minor, covering a range of up to a major 3rd. The tempo will be 70–80bpm.

Process

Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise, after which they will perform the test. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or having a 4-beat count in at the beginning. Whichever option candidates choose, the practice time will start with the examiner playing the root note. Candidates will receive the same choice when performing the test.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements

Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression, over which they will improvise a melody using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The chord progression will be 4 bars long, in the key of A minor. The tempo will be 90bpm.

Process

Candidates will hear the backing track three times. Candidates can rehearse during the first and second playthroughs, before performing the improvisation over the third playthrough. Only their improvisation over the final playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with the root note and a 4-beat count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the root note and count in of the second and third playthroughs will start immediately.

Ear Tests

Candidates will be given both of the following ear tests, examples of which are included in the grade book:

  • Test 1: Melodic Recall
  • Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

Test 1: Melodic Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a melody. Candidates will then sing back the melody to a drum backing, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The melody will be a 2-bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, starting on the root note, using the first three notes of the scale. Candidates may sing in any octave. The melody will be based on half notes and quarter notes. The tempo will be 85bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should play the melody back to the drum backing.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

There are two parts to this test: Rhythm Recall and Identification.

Part 1: Rhythm Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a 2-bar rhythm. Candidates will be asked to sing the rhythm back, on any pitch, using ‘da’ or ‘ba’ vocal sounds. The rhythm will be played on a single note, to a drum backing. The tempo will be 90bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should sing the rhythm back. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track so the vocal count in may begin while the candidate is still practising.

Part 2: Identification

  • Requirements: Candidates will be asked to identify the rhythm they heard in Part 1.
  • Process: Candidates will be shown two notated rhythms. They will be asked to identify one which matches the rhythm they heard in Part 1.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these will be music knowledge questions, based on any one of the pieces performed in the exam, the fifth will be about knowledge of the candidate’s own voice. Candidates can use brief demonstrations to support their verbal explanations.

Part 1: General Music Knowledge
There will be four music knowledge questions in relation to one of the pieces performed in the exam. Candidates will be asked which piece they would like to be asked about. If the candidate’s copy of the chosen piece contains extensive handwritten notes the examiner may either use their own version of the score as the basis for the questions or they may request that candidates select a different piece.

Candidates may be asked to identify:

      • Identify any pitch name (candidates will not need to state flat, sharp or natural)
      • Identify rhythmic values, from the following:

– Whole note

    – Half note
    – Quarter note
    – Eighth note
    – Sixteenth note

  • Identify any rest values
  • Identify and explain the meaning of any of the following:
    – 4/4 time signature marking
    – Repeat marks, 1st and 2nd time bars
    – Staccato marks
    – Slurs

Part 2: Knowledge of the Voice
There will be one question about the candidate’s knowledge of their voice, chosen by the examiner from the list below. Candidates may be asked:

      • What is the meaning of ‘diction’?
      • What is the meaning of ‘tone’?
      • During a song, when would be a better time to take a breath?
      • Why is posture important when singing?

 

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

Vocals
Grade 3

Vocals Grade 3 adds improvisation elements and concentrates on fundamental areas of technique, such as perfect intervals, bends, small leaps and arpeggios. At exam time, you’ll be tested across a series of three or five performances, depending on the exam you choose.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 30 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)
RSL GEM Vocals Instruments

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Vocals Grade 3 book has all the info you need on the skills covered in the grade exam, including how to start out with improvisation, perfecting intervals and small bends, and arpeggios.

1

Vocals Grade 3

The essential syllabus for the aspiring contemporary vocalist. This book will provide you with ev...
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

Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate.

The ten songs at grade 3 are:

Featured Repertoire:

  • Judy Kuhn – Colors of the Wind (from Pocahontas)
  • Bruno Mars – Marry You
  • Taylor Swift – 22
  • Billie Holiday – All of Me
  • George Ezra – Shotgun
  • Pharrell Williams – Happy
  • Jon Batiste – It’s All Right (from Soul)
  • Amy Winehouse – Valerie
  • Birdy – People Help the People
  • Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

Technical Exercises

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

There are four groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios, Intervals and Technical Studies. The scales, arpeggios and intervals are to be performed to a click track, the technical study to a backing track. The exercises may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to prepare both of the following scales, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major Scale
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Natural Minor Scale
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group B: Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare both of the following arpeggios, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major Arpeggio
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Minor Arpeggio
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Group C – Intervals

Candidates are to prepare both of the following intervals, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Perfect 4th, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Perfect 5th, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group D – Technical Studies

Candidates are to prepare both the rhythmic study and the melodic study from the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam.

Rhythmic study
If the examiner requests the rhythmic study, candidates will hear a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 95bpm.

Melodic study
If the examiner requests the melodic study, they will ask candidates which option they are going to perform: (Option 1: F# or Option 2: B# minor). Candidates will hear the root note, followed by a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track. The tempo is 100bpm.

Supporting Tests

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

Before seeing the tests, the examiner will ask whether the candidate wishes to perform a piece of sight reading or take a test of improvisation and interpretation. Once the candidate has decided, they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements

Candidates will be given a short previously unseen rhythm to perform, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The rhythm will be 4 bars long, in the key of F major or D minor, covering a range of up to a perfect 5th. Candidates may sing in any octave. The tempo will be 75–85bpm.

Process

Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise, after which they will perform the test. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or having a 4-beat count in at the beginning. Whichever option candidates choose, the practice time will start with the examiner playing the root note. Candidates will receive the same choice when performing the test.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements

Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression, over which they will improvise a melody using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The chord progression will be 4 bars long, in the key of G major or E minor. The tempo will be 80–90bpm.

Process

Candidates will hear the backing track three times. Candidates can rehearse during the first and second playthroughs, before performing the improvisation over the third playthrough. Only their improvisation over the final playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with the root note and a 4-beat count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the root note and count in of the second and third playthroughs will start immediately.

Ear Tests

Candidates will be given both of the following ear tests, examples of which are included in the grade book:

  • Test 1: Melodic Recall
  • Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

Test 1: Melodic Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a melody. Candidates will then sing back the melody to a drum backing, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The melody will be a 2-bar diatonic melody in the key of C major or A minor, starting on the root note, using up to the first five notes of the scale. Candidates may sing in any octave. The melody may contain half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes and may contain rests. The tempo will be 90bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should play the melody back to the drum backing.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

There are two parts to this test: Rhythm Recall and Identification.

Part 1: Rhythm Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a 2-bar rhythm. Candidates will be asked to sing the rhythm back, on any pitch, using ‘da’ or ‘ba’ vocal sounds. The rhythm will be played on a single note, to a drum backing. The tempo will be 90bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should sing the rhythm back. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track so the vocal count in may begin while the candidate is still practising.

Part 2: Identification

  • Requirements: Candidates will be asked to identify the rhythm they heard in Part 1.
  • Process: Candidates will be shown two notated rhythms. They will be asked to identify one which matches the rhythm they heard in Part 1.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these will be music knowledge questions, based on any one of the pieces performed in the exam, the fifth will be about knowledge of the candidate’s own voice. Candidates can use brief demonstrations to support their verbal explanations.

Part 1: General Music Knowledge
There will be four music knowledge questions in relation to one of the pieces performed in the exam. Candidates will be asked which piece they would like to be asked about. If the candidate’s copy of the chosen piece contains extensive handwritten notes the examiner may either use their own version of the score as the basis for the questions or they may request that candidates select a different piece.

Candidates may be asked to identify:

  • Identify any pitch name (including stating flat, sharp or natural)
  • Identify rhythmic values, from the following:
    – Whole note
    – Half note
    – Quarter note
    – Eighth note
    – Sixteenth note
    – Triplet eighth notes
  • Identify any interval up to a fifth between two adjacent notes (candidates will not need to state major, minor or perfect)
  • Identify and explain the meaning of any of the following:
    – 4/4 time signature marking
    – Repeat marks, 1st and 2nd time bars
    – Staccato marks
    – Slurs
    – Crescendo/diminuendo
    – D.C. al Coda, D.S. al Coda and al Fine markings
    – Ad lib.

Part 2: Knowledge of the Voice
There will be one question about the candidate’s knowledge of their voice, chosen by the examiner from the list below. Candidates may be asked:

    • What is the meaning of the ‘break’?
    • What is the meaning of ‘transition’?
    • How do you support a long sustained note?
    • Give an example of a type of food that would be good to eat before a performance?
    • Give an example of a type of food that would not be good to eat before a performance?

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

Vocals
Grade 4

At Vocals Grade 4, it’s time to harmonise and sing backing vocals. You’ll also improve transitions between registers and expand your music theory before being testing your new skills in a series of performance pieces in your exam.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 30 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)
RSL GEM Vocals Instruments

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Vocals Grade 4 book will guide you through all you need to learn to take your exam, and looks in-depth at the skills of harmonising, backing vocals, improving transitions between registers, and more.

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Vocals Grade 4

The essential syllabus for the aspiring contemporary vocalist. This book will provide you with ev...
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

Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate.

The ten songs at grade 4 are:

Featured Repertoire:

  • Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
  • Billie Eilish – Ocean Eyes
  • Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground
  • BTS – Dynamite
  • Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares for Me
  • Massive Attack – Teardrop
  • Adele – Someone like You
  • Passenger – Let Her Go
  • Coldplay – Magic
  • Rihanna – Diamonds

Technical Exercises

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

There are five groups of technical exercises at this grade: Scales, Arpeggios, Intervals, Melodic Studies and Backing Vocals. The scale, arpeggios and intervals are to be performed to a click track, the melodic study and backing vocals to backing tracks. Unless specified otherwise, the exercises may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP A – Scales

Candidates are to perform the following scale, as written in the grade book:

Major Pentatonic Scale
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group B: Arpeggios

Candidates are to prepare both of the following arpeggios, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major Arpeggio
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: Up to a tenth
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Major arpeggio (ascending), dominant 7 arpeggio (descending)
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Range: 1 octave
Tempo: 80bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group C – Intervals

Candidates are to prepare both of the following intervals, as written in the grade book. The examiner will ask for one of them to be performed in the exam:

Major 6th, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

Major 7th, ascending
Starting note: Candidate’s choice
Tempo: 90bpm
Accompaniment: Click track

The examiner will ask the candidate which starting note they have chosen (the examiner can play starting notes in the range A3–G#4, but candidates may sing in any octave). Candidates will hear the starting note, followed by a 1-bar count in, before performing the test to the metronome click.

Group D – Melodic Studies

Candidates are to perform one of the two melodic studies given in the grade book. The examiner will ask which study the candidate has prepared (Study 1 or Study 2). Candidates will hear the root note, followed by a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track.

Group E – Backing Vocals

Candidates are to perform one of the two backing vocals exercises given in the grade book. Each exercise in the book has two notated vocal parts — candidates must prepare both of these for their chosen exercise. The examiner will ask which exercise the candidate has prepared (Exercise 1 or Exercise 2). They will then select one of the vocal parts for the candidate to perform (the other two notated parts will be included on the backing track). Candidates will hear the root note, followed by a 4-beat count in, before performing the test to the backing track.

Supporting Tests

Please note: The following information relates to the new 2021 Vocals syllabus launched in September 2021. For exam information relating to the 2014 – 2021 Vocals syllabus, please download the syllabus specification at the base of this page!

Before seeing the tests, the examiner will ask whether the candidate wishes to perform a piece of sight reading or take a test of improvisation and interpretation. Once the candidate has decided, they cannot change their mind.

Sight Reading

Requirements

Candidates will be given a short previously unseen rhythm to perform, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The rhythm will be 4 bars long, in the key of F major or D minor, covering a range of up to a perfect 5th. Candidates may sing in any octave. The tempo will be 75–85bpm.

Process

Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practise, after which they will perform the test. Before the practice time begins, candidates will be given the choice of a metronome click throughout or having a 4-beat count in at the beginning. Whichever option candidates choose, the practice time will start with the examiner playing the root note. Candidates will receive the same choice when performing the test.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Requirements

Candidates will be given a previously unseen chord progression, over which they will improvise a melody using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The chord progression will be 4 bars long, in the key of G major or E minor. The tempo will be 80–90bpm.

Process

Candidates will hear the backing track three times. Candidates can rehearse during the first and second playthroughs, before performing the improvisation over the third playthrough. Only their improvisation over the final playthrough will be assessed. Each playthrough will begin with the root note and a 4-beat count in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the root note and count in of the second and third playthroughs will start immediately.

Ear Tests

Candidates will be given both of the following ear tests, examples of which are included in the grade book:

  • Test 1: Melodic Recall
  • Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

Test 1: Melodic Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a melody. Candidates will then sing back the melody to a drum backing, using any vocal sound except humming or whistling. The melody will be a 2-bar diatonic melody in the key of C major or A minor, starting on the root note, using up to the first five notes of the scale. Candidates may sing in any octave. The melody may contain half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes and may contain rests. The tempo will be 90bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should play the melody back to the drum backing.

Test 2: Rhythmic Recall

There are two parts to this test: Rhythm Recall and Identification.

Part 1: Rhythm Recall

  • Requirements: The examiner will play a 2-bar rhythm. Candidates will be asked to sing the rhythm back, on any pitch, using ‘da’ or ‘ba’ vocal sounds. The rhythm will be played on a single note, to a drum backing. The tempo will be 90bpm.
  • Process: The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a 4-beat count in. There will be a short gap after each playthrough. After the gap following the second playthrough candidates will be given a vocal count in, after which they should sing the rhythm back. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track so the vocal count in may begin while the candidate is still practising.

Part 2: Identification

  • Requirements: Candidates will be asked to identify the rhythm they heard in Part 1.
  • Process: Candidates will be shown two notated rhythms. They will be asked to identify one which matches the rhythm they heard in Part 1.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these will be music knowledge questions, based on any one of the pieces performed in the exam, the fifth will be about knowledge of the candidate’s own voice. Candidates can use brief demonstrations to support their verbal explanations.

Part 1: General Music Knowledge
There will be four music knowledge questions in relation to one of the pieces performed in the exam. Candidates will be asked which piece they would like to be asked about. If the candidate’s copy of the chosen piece contains extensive handwritten notes the examiner may either use their own version of the score as the basis for the questions or they may request that candidates select a different piece.

Candidates may be asked to identify:

  • Identify any pitch name (including stating flat, sharp or natural)
  • Identify rhythmic values, from the following:
    – Whole note
    – Half note
    – Quarter note
    – Eighth note
    – Sixteenth note
    – Triplet eighth notes
    • Identify rest values, and adjacent rest value combinations, from the following:
      – Whole note
    • – Half note
    • – Quarter note
    • – Eighth note
    • – Sixteenth note
    • Identify any interval up to a 7th between two adjacent notes (candidates will not need to state major, minor or perfect)
    • Identify and explain the meaning of any of the following:
    • – Any time signature marking
    • – Any dynamic marking
    • – Ad lib.
      – Any tempo marking

Part 2: Knowledge of the Voice
There will be one question about the candidate’s knowledge of their voice, chosen by the examiner from the list below. Candidates may be asked:

  • How do you ensure consistent vocal tone?
  • How do you create breathy (aspirate) tone?
  • When would you use vibrato?

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.