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The next deadline is 8 November

Music Production Grade 4

The Grade 4 Music Production exam is for candidates who have a detailed understanding of modern music production.

Key Features at Grade 4

What you'll learn at Grade 4:

  • Music Production Theory
  • Listening Skills
  • Practical Skills

How the exam is assessed

Candidates are required to complete a written exam, a listening test and two practical tasks.These are designed to explore theoretical knowledge of the subject and practical skills using a Digital Audio Workstation. The Grade 4 exam is divided into 3 sections:

Section 1 - Theoretical written exam

This will assess the candidate's knowledge and understanding of the following two sections:

  • Music Production Terminology
  • Sound & Audio Fundamentals

At Grade 4 the theory content covered will include subject areas such as describing equipment controls, surround formats, wireless connectivity, backing up files, plugin concepts, stereo microphone techniques, nonlinear editing, software instruments, sidechaining and sound propagation.

At Grade 4, candidates will be expected to:

  • Describe the the controls on studio equipment, such as threshold, ratio, attack, release, hold, on compressors, gates and expanders
  • Describe sound formats such as mono, stereo, 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, quadraphonic
  • Describe the importance of file management and backing up
  • Describe plugins, what they are or, their advantages and formats
  • Describe stereo microphone techniques, such as XY, AB, MS
  • Describe linear and nonlinear editing, destructive and non-destructive editing
  • Describe software instruments, their purpose, formats and common uses such as synths, samplers and real instrument emulation
  • Describe production techniques such as sidechaining, de-essing, including both dedicated plug-ins / devices, and using standard equipment to achieve the same result
  • Describe basic acoustic concepts, such as how sound travels through air / solids, sound waves, compression / rarefaction

Section 2 - Listening test

The listening test will present candidates with questions relating to sonic fidelity, music theory and harmony and stylistic awareness. Audio files will be presented to the candidates and questions will relate specifically to the relevant audio file. This will assess the candidate’s ability to hear and interpret:

  • Sonic Fidelity - Identifying use of compression on instruments and mixes
  • Music Theory & Harmony - Identifying semi tones and tones and compound time signatures
  • Stylistic Awareness - Identifying specific genres

At Grade 4, candidates will be expected to:

  • Identify the difference between compressed and uncompressed audio recordings
  • Identify the difference between compressed and uncompressed mixes
  • Identify when a compressor is being controlled by a sidechain
  • Identify semi tones (chromaticism) and whole tones
  • Identify compound time signatures: 6/8 and 12/8
  • Identify common western music genres from a choice of two: Country and Funk

Candidates are advised to practice these techniques using the mock assessment files available from your secure area.

Section 3 - Practical assessment

The Practical Assessment is divided into two sections as detailed below:

  • Technical Skills: The candidate will be asked to complete a series of specified tasks, which must be completed using a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). At Grade 4 the task will centre around use of equalisation (EQ) for corrective / creative purposes.
  • Professional Scenario: The choose and implement appropriate technique to resolve the scenario. At Grade 4 the scenario will require candidates to remove unwanted noise from a recording using appropriate techniques, such as manual editing, gating, crossfades.

The completed session files must be appropriately named, saved and shared with your examiner as instructed, including all associated audio files. It is vital that candidates are able to accurately save their work as failure to do so will result in an unclassified mark.


The exam lasts 120 minutes.

Equipment information

On your exam day, you must bring:

  • 1 x closed headphones with a ¼ inch jack *
  • A hard copy of your Music Production syllabus book or your proof of digital purchase

Info: * Candidates without their own headphones will be unable to sit the exam.

Your exam centre will provide:

  • 1 x computer; running either of the latest two versions of Cubase, Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton Live or GarageBand
  • 1 x midi controller keyboard – minimum 4 octaves, including a sustain pedal and pitch wheel

Info: GarageBand, Cubase Elements and Cubase LE are only suitable for grades 1 to 5.

Books for Music Production Grade 4

  • Music Production Grade 4 Book Cover Music Production Grade 4

    The Music Production Grade 4 book contains everything you need to sit your Grade 4 exam.

  • Piano Grade 4 Book Cover Piano Grade 4

    The Rockschool Grade 4 Piano book is the ideal preparation for your Grade 4 exam.

  • Guidebook Debut - Grade 5 Book Cover Guidebook Debut - Grade 5

    Rockschool's Guidebooks are the ideal introduction to music theory for musicians, composers, students and teachers.

  • Workbook Grade 4 Book Cover Workbook Grade 4

    The Rockschool Grade 4 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 4 theory exam.