With a firm focus on cohesion and consistency at the forefront of any release, the Rockschool Method is a musical pedagogy that we hope contributes to the production of confident, self-sufficient musicians; empowered with the knowledge and ability to see their musical decisions blossom into authentic musical expression.

It would be presumptuous of us to think we’re in the business of creating musicians, but here at RSL HQ we do feel confident that our Rockschool resources – paired with a lot of hard work and endeavour – can give any nascent musician a decent chance of achieving their personal goals, whether that’s playing their first gig; joining a band; working as a full-time session player; writing/recording their own material; or, just rockin’ out in their bedroom.

Performance Pieces

When we think of a musical performance, we could picture a variety of situations, such as: an audition, a concert, a recital, a gig or a street performance, busking for passers-by (just make sure you have the right permit first!). You could also take any musical performance you can think of and break it down into its component parts, for instance, its interpretation, level of improvisation, incorporated technique(s) and phrasing. Taking all of this into consideration, Rockschool’s performance pieces are developed to provide musicians of all ages and skill levels with the resources they need to one day navigate any musical scenario they see in their future (within reason!).

With each set of songs, it has always been a priority to present a sonic tapestry that reflects the incredible variety of popular music that has been produced over the last 100 years (give or take) – from the blues of the Mississippi Delta, to the Gypsy Jazz of Europe; to Rock and its unlimited list of sub-genres; to classic hip-hop, UK Grime and Electronic Dance Music (let’s not even start on the sub-genres here). As a collection of avid music fans ourselves, we always want to provide music students and their teachers with songs, genres and artists that they know and love, as well as those that they know little or nothing about. What we hope this goes some way to doing, is providing every single music student with the opportunity to widen their appreciation for music in all its forms, and in doing so, help them to grow into both confident players and people, receptive to new ideas and topics of discussion.

Requirements & Outcomes

Once we feel we have a repertoire list of potential tracks that will take you on a varied, colourful, musical journey; we then get to work ensuring each composition makes academic sense by suitably benchmarking each by grade and skill level. Once these compositions meet our rigorous list of requirements, we can then release them with confidence that learners at every level are getting all that they need before moving onto the next step. Here are some of those requirements, and the practical outcomes the serve to instil:

1. Techniques

  • Understanding your instrument
  • Developing a range of performance techniques
  • Exploring your instruments range, tone and wider possibilities
  • Expressing yourself musically

2. Rhythms, Pulse, Timing & Sync

  • Co-ordination
  • Interlocking with other instruments
  • Options for creativity

3. Notation Accuracy

  • Reading Music
  • Understanding musical terminology
  • Communicating with other musicians/instruments

4. Presentation

  • Confidence
  • Displaying stylistic awareness

5. Dynamics and Articulation

  • Adding your personality to the music
  • Creating individual touches
  • Adding interest for your audience

Free Choice Pieces

Before we leave you, it would be remiss of us not to briefly touch on the additional option of bringing your own piece in to the performance arena. You read it right! Yes, you also have to option to play absolutely any song whatsoever; the only caveat being it must meet our criteria laid out here. This is to ensure that the chosen composition it also benchmarked at the appropriate level, comparative to the performance pieces that you’ll find in any given Rockschool grade book. We’d advise going through the checklist with a teacher or an experienced musician to make sure that you’re not putting yourself at an unnecessary disadvantage during your performance.

If this is something you’re interested in, then you can also make it work to your advantage with some dedication to your craft. For those already writing their own music and/or reworking existing work, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to use this as a chance to further develop your compositional skills. A part of being professional songwriter and composer is being able to work to a brief, which is exactly what each grades criterion can be seen as. Take your time with it, seek guidance from those more experienced, and always feel free to send us your questions for our Academic Team to address.

Next week, we’ll be riffing on Technical Exercises!

We’ll catch you then.


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