Piano & Keyboard Grade 7

The Grade 7 Piano exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for four to five years and have extended their advanced level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 6 and developed notable security of appropriate technique, use of expressive devices, rhythmic complexity, fluency and musical understanding.

Candidates will be able to improvise with conviction and personality plus demonstrate strong musical form and structure. There will be mature and authentic stylistic awareness, with developing individuality and communication.

Exam Times

Grade Exam: 30 minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 25 minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 7

  • Performance Pieces
  • Quick Study Pieces
  • Stylistic Studies

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The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary pianist. Piano Grade 7 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 7 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

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Piano Grade 7 Cover

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 7 they are longer, typically up to three minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can convincingly understand and execute notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/consistency, technical control, articulation, style awareness and sync at an advanced level. There will be highly assured presentation of musical structure with fluent, individually shaped and highly
expressive communication.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Ray Charles - A Song For You
  • Black Crowes - Hard To Handle
  • Theme from "Schindler's List" (John Williams)

 

Technical Exercises

At Grade 7 there are four groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios, Chord Voicing's, Stylistic Studies.

All exercises need to be played ascending and descending, hands together, in either straight or swung feel as directed by the examiner and with either staccato or legato articulation as directed by the examiner.

The examiner will ask for a selection from each group and Groups A and B need to be played to a compulsory metronome click. Group C does not require a metronome and can be played at a tempo of the candidate’s choice. Group D is played to the backing track.

In this grade, all Technical Exercises (including the stylistic study) need to be played from memory. Candidates will be required to close their grade books or ensure the App is out of view.

Note: The use of any notes or any reading from the grade book during the technical exercises will result in a deduction of overall marks for this section. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A - Scales

Tempo: 160 bpm
Octave range: 4 octaves (except contrary motion scales - 2 octaves)
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter/dotted half note.

  • C# major
  • C# major (contrary motion) (2 octaves)
  • Cb major
  • Cb major (contrary motion) (2 octaves)
  • A# natural minor
  • Ab natural minor
  • A# harmonic minor
  • Ab harmonic minor
  • C whole-tone

GROUP B - Arpeggios

Tempo: 112 bpm
Time Signature: 3/4, 4/4
Octave range: 4 octaves (except extended arpeggio - 1 octave).
Rhythms: 3/4: Eighth notes, finishing on a dotted half note. 4/4: Eighth notes, finishing on a whole/half note.

  • C# major arpeggio
  • Cb major arpeggio
  • A# minor arpeggio
  • Ab minor arpeggio
  • D Dim7 arpeggio
  • Bb Dim7 arpeggio
  • G7 arpeggio
  • F7 arpeggio
  • D7 arpeggio
  • Bb7 arpeggio
  • C9#5 arpeggio (1 octave)

GROUP C - Chord Voicings

Candidates will be asked to play three voicings of two of the following three chords (6 total). The examiner will select which two:

  • C dominant 7b9
  • C dominant 7#5
  • C dominant 9#5

The three voicings required for each chord are shown in the grade book and comprise right hand, left hand and both hands.

In the exam, there is no requirement to present the voicing's to a particular tempo or a backing / metronome click, but the test is played from memory and the examiner will be looking for speed of response.

GROUP D - Stylistic Studies

Tempo: 90-140 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4, 12/8

Candidates will need to choose and prepare one of the stylistic studies given in the grade book, from the list of styles below. The stylistic study will be played back in full to the backing track.

  • Pop and Rock
  • Jazz, Blues and Soul
  • Film and Musical Theatre

Supporting Tests

Quick Study Piece

Key: Any key
Time Signature: Simple or compound

At Grade 7 candidates will need to prepare and perform a short Quick Study Piece (QSP) to a backing track. The QSP is in the form of a lead sheet and includes both sight-reading and the creation of improvised parts where directed.

The piece will be between 14-28 bars in length and rhythms and chords will be indicated, with written notation, articulation, expressive/dynamic markings and musical directions. At Grade 7, note lengths and rhythm values will typically be Grade 5 standard.

Candidates will need to choose the style grouping from the list below. It is acceptable if candidates wish to choose the same group as the stylistic study.

  • Pop and Rock
  • Jazz, Blues and Soul
  • Film and Musical Theatre

First, the examiner will give the lead sheet to the candidate. Then the candidate will hear a full mix version of the piece, including both the notated parts and an example version of the improvised parts. After the full mix, candidates will have three minutes to practice
after which the examiner will play the backing track twice, with the piano parts now absent. The first time is to practice and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. For each play-through, the backing track will begin with a one bar count-in.

During the practice time, candidates will be given the option of a metronome click throughout or a one bar count-in at the beginning.

The backing track is continuous so once the first play-through has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Note: It is acceptable for candidates to also ask for additional playing(s) of the backing track (without piano parts) to practice during the 90 seconds.

Ear Tests

Melodic Recall

Key: C major or C minor
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Half, quarter, eighth notes.

The examiner will play a 2 bar diatonic melody in the key of either C major or C minor, with a range up to an octave.

There will be a C root note at the beginning of the test, then the melody will be played twice. After this, candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. Both playing's of the melody and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

The first note of the melody will be either the root or fifth.

It is acceptable for candidates to play over the track as the test is being played and there will be 10 seconds to practice after the second playing. The piano can be used to assist at any time prior to being counted in to perform the exam version.

Note: The 10 seconds is pre-recorded on the audio track so the count-in for the exam version may begin while candidates are still practicing.

Harmonic Recall

Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half notes

The examiner will play a chord progression containing any combination of chords from the C major scale, including seventh chords.

Candidates will hear the test twice, then play the chords back to a metronome click. Both playing's of the initial test and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

Note: There is no requirement for the chords to be voicing specific but the diatonic progression needs to be correct.

It is acceptable for candidates to play over the track as the test is being played and there will be 10 seconds to practice after the second playing. The piano can be used to assist at any time prior to being counted in to perform the exam version.

Note: The 10 seconds is pre-recorded on the audio track so the count-in for the exam version may begin while candidates are still practicing.

General Musicianship Questions (GMQ'S)

At Grade 7 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.

The questions will cover the following topics:

Group 1: Harmony
Scales / modes which are being played.

Group 2: Melody
Intervallic construction of melodic phrases within the piece up to crotchet length.

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second notes, any dotted notes, triplets or any associated rests up to one minim length.

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used to play the 3rd//5th/7th/9th/11th/13th note of a chord.

Group 5: Genre
Melodic / harmonic / rhythmic devices indicative of the genre chosen.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-1112-1415-1718-20
Grade DescriptorInsecure physical techniques
Insecure expressive techniques
Insecure use of rhythm, duration and phrasing Insecure use of timing/ pulse
Inconsistent stylistic awareness
Insecure sync/continuity Insecure use of articulation, expression and dynamics
Secure physical techniques some of the time
Secure expressive techniques some of the time
Secure use of rhythm, duration and phrasing some of the time Secure use of timing/ pulse some of the time Ability to demonstrate stylistic awareness some of the time Secure use of sync/ continuity some of the time
Secure use of articulation, expression and dynamics some of the time
Mostly Secure physical techniques
Mostly secure expressive techniques Secure use of rhythm, duration and phrasing most of the time Secure use of timing/ pulse most of the time Ability to demonstrate stylistic awareness most of the time Secure use of harmony and melody most of the time
Secure use of articulation, expression and dynamics most of the time
Consistently secure physical techniques Consistently secure expressive techniques Secure use of rhythm, duration and phrasing throughout
Secure use of timing/ pulse throughout Ability to demonstrate stylistic awareness throughout
Secure use of harmony and melody throughout
Secure use of articulation, expression and dynamics throughout

Technical Exercises

Attainment BandAssessment Criteria Not MetPassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-89-1011-1213-15
Grade DescriptorInability to maintain pitch, pulse or rhythm accurately
Inability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases accurately Insecure use of diction, articulation and phrasing
Basic ability to play with accuracy, pitch, rhythm and pulse some of the time
Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases some of the time Secure use of diction, articulation and phrasing some of the time
Basic ability to play with accuracy, pitch, rhythm and pulse most of the time
Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases most of the time Secure use of diction, articulation and phrasing most of the time
Basic ability to play with accuracy, pitch, rhythm and pulse consistently
Ability to recall musical and rhythmic phrases consistently
Secure use of diction, articulation and phrasing throughout

Quick Study Piece (QSP)

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not MetPassMerit Distinction
Mark Range0-45-67-89-10
Grade DescriptorInability to read rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation Inability to improvise rhythm, harmony and melodySecure ability to read rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation some of the time
Secure ability to improvise rhythm, harmony and melody some of the time
Mostly secure ability to read rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation
Mostly secure ability to improvise rhythm, harmony and melody
Consistently secure ability to read rhythmic, harmonic and melodic notation
Consistently secure ability to improvise rhythm, harmony and melody

Ear Tests

Attainment Band Assessment Criteria Not Met PassMeritDistinction
Mark Range0-45-67-89-10
Grade DescriptorIncorrect responsesSome correct responsesMostly correct responsesConsistently correct responses

General Musicianship Questions (GMQ's)

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

Additional Information

Free Choice Pieces 

For all piano grades, candidates are able to play a number of free choice pieces in the examination:

  • Grade Examinations: Two Free Choice Pieces (at least one piece must  be from the grade book)
  • Performance Certificates: Three Free Choice Pieces (at least two pieces must be from the grade book)

Click here for grade specific Free Choice Criteria and wider requirements which need to be observed in full to be eligible for use in the exam. Prior approval is not required but any deviation/simplification/omissions from any aspect of the criteria or requirements may be reflected in the marks awarded.

All pieces must be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track) except in cases where pieces have been selected from previous Rockschool syllabi and do not have a backing track.

If there is any doubt or questions about the appropriateness of the chosen piece, please contact us directly and we will advise.

Notation

All notated work is to be played as written. There should be no changes or arrangement (unless previously agreed with Rockschool). Each piece is specifically written/presented carefully to achieve a number of outcomes appropriate for the grade.

Exclusions:

  • At Debut and Grade 1, if any three or four voiced chords notated in the pieces are unachievable, candidates may either reduce the amount of notes in the voicing or play as a spread chord if stylistically appropriate.
  • At all grades, if any two handed/open voiced chords notated in the pieces are not achievable, candidates may either reduce
    the amount of notes in the voicing or play as a spread chord if stylistically appropriate.
  • At all grades, candidates are free to execute voiced chords notated in the pieces with either hand or combination of hands.
  • In any Level 3 piece containing chord symbols, voicings may be presented as deemed appropriate.

Musical Interpretation

For all piano grades, Rockschool encourages individual musicality, articulation, expression and use of dynamics when performing. This would include for example own legato/staccato, pedalling, dynamic levels, accentuation, cresc.../dim, phrasing etc. This also applies anywhere in the exam, whether within a performance piece or any other prepared/unprepared element.

Musical Interpretation is assessed as a requirement at all grades in both the Full Grade Exam and Performance Certificate.

Note: Where there is notated articulation, expression, dynamic or pedal markings, these have been specifically written and must be observed.

Piano Specification

The following instruments are accepted for use in Piano exams, at all grades.

  • Acoustic Piano
  • Digital Piano

A number of our exam centres in the UK have acoustic pianos. The remainder have digital pianos. Candidates are advised to contact Rockschool to check their nearest centre if they specifically wish to perform the exam on an acoustic piano.

Using Own Equipment

Candidates may bring their own digital piano or keyboard for use in the exam, which must fit the following criteria:

  • Debut-Grade 4: Minimum of five octaves/61 keys, touch sensitive, weighted or unweighted keys and a sustain pedal.
  • Grades 5-8: 88 note keyboard, touch sensitive, weighted or unweighted keys and a sustain pedal.
  • Candidates must use a 'realistic' piano sound for their exam.

Candidates will need to note on the application form that they wish to use their own equipment when applying to take the exam. Owing to scheduling constraints and the potential impact on subsequent exam times, the absence of prior notification to Rockschool will result in the examiner refusing candidates own equipment on the day.

Rockschool also recommends that candidates who wish to bring in their own equipment contact their exam centre to make any practical arrangements beforehand and also bring their own assistance to carry the equipment in/out of the exam room.

Own equipment needs to be practicable and reasonably portable so as not to impact on exam timings.

Please note that whilst it is acceptable for candidates to use their own equipment for use in the exam, if any outcomes required at a particular grade either cannot be demonstrated or are demonstrated less securely as a result of the equipment, this may be reflected in the marks awarded. Rockschool cannot advise whether or not candidates use their own equipment. A decision to do so is entirely at a candidate’s discretion/risk on this basis.

Candidates cannot use either pre-programmed backing tracks or internally generated, pre-programmed rhythms.

Making Notes in the Exam

It is not permitted to make any notes at any time during the exam.

With the exception of Technical Exercises where memory requirements apply, it is permitted to use grade books which contain notes made during the course of a candidate’s study.

For General Musicianship Questions, the examiner may use his or her version of the selected piece as the basis to ask the questions if such notes contained on the candidate’s version are deemed sufficiently extensive or might assist the candidate when answering the questions.

Piano Syllabus

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Piano Syllabus (5.3MB, .pdf)

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Dates & Fees

Next exam period:

01 February 19 - 31 March 19

Next Closing Date

15 January 19

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Exam Fee

£85.00

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