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The next deadline is 8 November

Music Production Grade 1

The Grade 1 Music Production exam is for candidates who have been learning between six months – one year and are competent in the foundations of music production.

Key Features at Grade 1

What you'll learn at Grade 1:

  • 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 1 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 1 the theory content covered will include subject areas such as identifying studio hardware, physical audio formats, analogue connectivity, computer & digital technology, DAW basics, microphones, MIDI basics, basic audio technology and the fundamentals of mono & stereo sound.

At Grade 1 candidates will be expected to:

  • Identify images of studio equipment such as mixing desks, microphones, DAWs, drum kits, cables
  • Identify images of physical formats such as CD, vinyl, tape, Minidisc, DAT
  • Identify images of analogue connections such as Jack, XLR, Phono / RCA, DIN, Speakon
  • Identify images of computer peripherals such as Audio Interfaces, MIDI keyboards, computer mouse, computer keyboard, computer monitor
  • Identify images of the different DAWs, including Logic, Ableton, Pro Tools, Cubase, FL Studio
  • Identify images of popular microphone models, such as Shure SM58, Shure SM57, AKG D112, Neumann U87, AKG C451
  • Identify images of specific DAW workspaces, such as arrange window, mix window, sample editor, plugins, software instruments
  • Identify the function of music production technology from an image, such as channel faders, pan, mute, routing, headphone volume
  • Briefly describe sound and acoustic terms, such as mono, stereo, surround, high fidelity, units of sound level (db)

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 instruments in isolation and within a mix
  • Music Theory & Harmony: Identifying relative pitch and basic note lengths
  • Stylistic Awareness: Identifying specific genres

At Grade 1 candidates will be expected to:

  • Identify instruments in isolation: Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, Acoustic Drums, Piano
  • Identify a specific instrument within a mix from those listed above e.g. name the instrument playing the melody
  • Identify when an instrument is missing from one version of a mix
  • Identify consecutive notes as either higher or lower in pitch
  • Identify basic note lengths: whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes
  • Identify common western music genres from a choice of two: Pop and Rock

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:

  • 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 1 the task will centre around session creation and basic inputting of notes using a software instrument.
  • Professional Scenario: The candidate will be presented with a situation, and must choose and implement appropriate technique to resolve the scenario. At Grade 1 the scenario will require candidates to import a backing track into their DAW, record a melody, and bounce the resulting mix to a new stereo audio file.

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 immediately result in a unclassified mark.


The exam lasts 90 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 1

  • Music Production Grade 1 Book Cover Music Production Grade 1

    The Music Production Grade 1 book contains everything you need to sit your Grade 1 exam.

  • Piano Grade 1 Book Cover Piano Grade 1

    The Rockschool Grade 1 Piano book is the ideal preparation for your Grade 1 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 1 Book Cover Workbook Grade 1

    The Rockschool Grade 1 Theory Workbook is the ideal preparation for your Grade 1 theory exam.