Acoustic Guitar Grade 4

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 4 they are typically in the region of two to two and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

The Grade 4 exams will introduce you to a range of repertoire from Metallica, Taylor Swift and Joni Mitchell.

Exam Times

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

Key Features at: Grade 4

  • Performance Pieces
  • Technical Exercises
  • Supporting Tests

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The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grade 4 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 4 exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Mumford and Sons, Joni Mitchell and Taylor Swift.

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Acoustic Guitar Grade 4 Book

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–Grade 5
Candidates are given an unseen
test to prepare and perform
This accounts
for 10% of the exam marks
Quick Study Pieces
Grade 6–8
Candidates are given an unseen
test to prepare and perform
These account
for 10% of the exam marks
2 Ear TestsCandidates respond to 2 aural tests.These account
for 10% of the
exam marks
5 General Musicianship QuestionsCandidates 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.

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 4 they are typically in the region of two to two and a half minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment
criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
  • Taylor Swift - Fearless
  • Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
  • Alison Krauss - Baby Now That I've Found You
  • Mumford And Sons - Little Lion Man
  • Eric Clapton - Layla

Technical Exercises

At Grade 4 there are three groups of technical work:

GROUP A – Scales

GROUP B – Arpeggios/Broken Chords

GROUP C – Chord Voicings

Groups A and B need to be played to a compulsory metronome click. The Examiner will ask for one demonstration from each group. The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B up to and including Grade 3.

From Grades 4–8, candidates must play from memory. Group C does not require a metronome and can be played at a tempo of the candidate’s choice. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books or ensure the information on any electronic devices is out of view and play from memory.

Note: The use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will impact on the marks awarded for this element.

Supporting Tests

At Grade 4 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

The Examiner will provide an 8–16 bar melody in the key of E major or Ab major. Candidates will first be given 90 seconds to practice.

Improvisation & Interpretation

The Examiner will provide an 8–16 bar chord progression in the key of E major or Ab major. Candidates will be given 90 seconds to practice.

Ear Tests

At Grade 4 there are two ear tests. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Melodic Recall

The Examiner will play a 2 bar diatonic melody in the key of C major with a range up to a sixth. The first note will be the root note. Candidates will need to play the melody to the click.

Harmonic Recall

The Examiner will play a chord progression containing chords I, IV and V in any order or combination in the key of C major. Candidates will need to play back to a click.

General Musicianship Questions (GMQ's)

Candidates will be asked five questions, one from each of the following groups:

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

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

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not Met
PassMerit Distinction
Mark Range 0–11 12–1415–1718–20
Grade Descriptor Insecure physical technique

Insecure expressive techniques

Inconsistent use of rhythm

Inability to maintain pitch and/or pulse accurately

Inconsistent sync

Inability to demonstrate stylistic awareness
Generally secure physical techniques

Generally secure expressive techniques

Secure use of rhythm some of the time

Strong sense of pitch and pulse some of the time

A sense of sync and security some of the time

Strong stylistic awareness some of the time
Mostly secure physical techniques

Mostly secure expressive techniques

Secure use of rhythm most of the time

Strong sense of pitch and pulse most of the time

A sense of sync and security most of the time

Strong stylistic awareness most of the time
Consistently secure physical techniques

Consistently secure expressive techniques

Secure use of rhythm throughout

Strong sense of pitch and pulse throughout

A sense of sync and security throughout

Strong stylistic awareness throughout

Technical Exercises

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range 0–89–1011–1213–15
Grade DescriptorInability to maintain pitch, pulse or rhythm accurately

Inability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases accurately

Inability to play stipulated chord voicings from memory
Ability to play with accuracy, pitch, rhythm and pulse some of the time

Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases some of the time

Ability to play stipulated chord voicings from memory some of the time
Ability to play with accuracy, pitch, rhythm and pulse most of the time

Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases most of the time

Ability to play stipulated chord voicings from memory most of the time
Ability to play with accuracy, pitch, rhythm and pulse consistently

Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases consistently

Ability to play stipulated chord voicings from memory consistently

Ear Tests

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not Met
PassMeritDistinction
Mark Range05-67-89-10
Grade DescriptorIncorrect responsesGenerally correct responsesMostly correct responsesconsistently correct responses

Supporting Tests (Sight Reading or Improvisation/Interpretation)

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMerit Distinction
Mark Range0-567-89-10
Grade DescriptorInsecure ability to read basic notation

OR Inability to improvise rhythm, harmony and melody
Generally secure ability to read basic rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation

OR Generally secure ability to improvise basic rhythm, harmony and melody
Mostly secure ability to read basic rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation

OR Mostly secure ability to improvise basic rhythm, harmony and melody
Consistently secure ability to read basic rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation

OR Consistently secure ability to improvise basic rhythm, harmony and melody

Supporting Tests (General Musicianship Questions)

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-2 correct responses3 correct responses4 correct responses5 correct responses

Additional Information

The Value of RSL Qualifications

RSL advocates an open access approach to qualifications, providing a range of syllabi, designed to accommodate a wide variety of candidates of different ages, experience and levels of achievement. RSL awards qualifications that are listed on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England and Northern Ireland by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual). RSL is committed to maintaining and improving its reputation for excellence by providing high quality education and training through its syllabi, examinations, music and resources.

UCAS Points

For students applying for work or University, many potential employers see graded music exams in a very positive way. Recognised qualifications demonstrate an ability to dedicate commitment to extra–curricular activities, providing evidence of versatility which many students find beneficial within UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) applications and for university entrance interviews. Our qualifications carry allocated points on the UCAS tariff.

Selecting Free Choice Pieces (FCP’s)

For all examinations, candidates are able to play a number of Free Choice Pieces.

Free Choice Pieces must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to the pieces given in the set selections in the grade books which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level.

Free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop, Rock, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul, Reggae, Film and Musical Theatre. Own compositions are also acceptable.

Pieces should be selected carefully to ensure that the pieces provide suitable opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the relevant assessment criteria. Candidates are reminded that if a chosen Free Choice Piece does not meet these requirements this may impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination.

All pieces must be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track) except in case where pieces have been selected from previous Rockschool syllabi and do not have backing track or have been specifically arranged by Rockschool as solo pieces.

Instrument Specification

Candidates are reminded that it is their responsibility to select and provide an appropriate musical instrument for each syllabus to allow demonstration of the relevant stylistic and technical skills within their performance. At all levels of examination, if any outcomes or assessed criteria cannot be demonstrated or are demonstrated less securely as a result of the equipment, this may be reflected in the marks awarded.

General Information

Download the Syllabus

Acoustic Syllabus (239KB, .pdf)

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Dates & Fees

Next exam period:

23 October 18 - 15 December 18

Next Closing Date

01 October 18

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Exam Fee

£60.00

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