Ukulele Grade 4

The Grade 4 Ukulele exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for two to three years and who are ready for intermediate level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 3 and since acquired greater use of technique, more complex rhythms, coordination and musical understanding. Candidates will be developing a sense of expression and continuing to broaden their stylistic awareness, and there is also the opportunity to improvise which will be growing in assurance and articulation.

There are two types of exam available at Grade 4, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Exam time

Grade Exam: 27 minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 24 minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 4

  • Performance Pieces
  • Technical Excercises
  • Supporting Tests
  • Ensemble Backing Tracks and Solo Arrangements

Buy Your Book

The Rockschool Ukulele 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 The Specials, Paul Simon and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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Ukulele Grade 4 Book

Exam Structure

There are two types of exam available, a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

Grade Exam

Prepared Work
Candidates are required to play three performance pieces and Technical Exercises which cover scales, arpeggios and chords.

Unprepared Work
Candidates are required to complete either a Sight Reading or an Improvisation & Interpretation test, and two Ear Tests which continue to develop Melodic recall and begin to develop harmonic recall.

The Grade 4 exam lasts approximately 27 minutes and is taken in the following order:

  • Performance Pieces*
  • Technical Exercises*
  • Sight Reading OR Improvisation & Interpretation
  • Ear Tests
  • General Musicianship Questions

*These elements can be taken first or second at the candidate’s request

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 to Grade 5); Quick Study Pieces (Grade 6 to Grade 8)Candidates are given an unseen
test to prepare and perform
This accounts
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

Prepared Work
Candidates are required to play five performance pieces. There is no unprepared work in the Performance Certificate.

The Grade 4 Performance Certificate lasts 24 minutes.

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:

  • Use Me – Bill Withers
  • Let Her Go – Passenger
  • Havana – Camila Cabello
  • Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Ghost Town – The Specials
  • Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon

Technical Exercises

At Grade 4 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Chords.

All exercises need to be played in straight feel, in the keys, octaves and tempos shown. Candidates may use their book during the exam for all groups.

Group A: Scales

Tempo: 80bpm
Rhythms: Eighth Notes
Range: As shown in grade book

The following scales need to be prepared from the root notes of Eb, E and F

  • Major
  • Natural minor
  • Harmonic minor

The following scales need to be prepared from the root notes shown only, with the given fingering

  • C# minor pentatonic across two positions
  • E major pentatonic across two positions
  • D blues scale on strings 3 & 4
  • G major | linear pattern on one string
  • C natural minor | linear pattern on one string

Group B: Arpeggios

Tempo: 80bpm
Rhythms: Eighth Notes
Range: As shown in grade book
The following arpeggios need to be prepared from the root notes of Eb, E and F

  • Major
  • Minor
  • Dominant 7
  • Minor 7

The following arpeggios need to be prepared from the root notes shown only, with the given fingering

  • Eb dominant 7 arpeggio on four strings
  • C minor 7 arpeggio on four strings

Group C: Chord Voicings

The tempo for this group is 80 bpm.

1. Harmonised scale

Barre chord shapes in the key of Eb, E or F major, to be played in sequence to continuous click.

The chord types (in sequence) are I, IIm, IIIm, IV, V, VIm, VIIdim, I.

Please note, candidates can choose between exercise 2 and exercise 3 below:

Either:

2. Muted chords and 16th note strumming

To be played to continuous click. Note candidates must play with a swung 16th note groove.

Or:

3. Triple Strokes

To be played to continuous click.

Supporting Tests

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests in this grade. The examiner will play each test twice.

Test 1: Melodic Recall

The examiner will play a two bar melody with a drum backing using either the C# minor pentatonic or E major pentatonic scales. The first note of the melody will be the root note and the first interval will be ascending. Candidates will play the melody back on their instrument. The test will be played twice.

Each time the test is played it is preceded by four clicks. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise. Next there will be a vocal count-in and candidates will then play the melody to the drum backing. The tempo is 90 bpm.

Test 2: Harmonic Recall

The examiner will play a tonic chord followed by a two bar chord sequence in the key of C major played to a bass and drum backing. The sequence will be drawn from the I, IV and V chords and may occur in any combination. Candidates will be asked to play the chord sequence to the drum backing in the rhythm shown in the grade book. This rhythm will be used in all examples of this test given in the exam. Candidates will then be asked to identify the sequence they have played to the examiner.

Candidates will hear the test twice. Each time the test is played the sequence is: count-in, tonic, count-in, chords. There will be a short gap for candidates to practise after the test has been played for the second time. Candidates will hear the count-in and tonic for the third time followed by a vocal count-in and will then need to play the chords to the drum backing. Candidates will then need to name the chord sequence. The tempo is 90 bpm.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions about a performance piece of their choosing. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about technical knowledge.

Music Knowledge

The examiner will ask four music knowledge questions based on a piece of music played in the exam. Candidates will nominate the piece of music about which the questions will be asked.

In Grade 4 the examiner can draw on the following subject areas for these questions:

  • Names of pitches
  • The meaning of the time signature and the key signature markings
  • Repeat marks, first and second time bars, D.C., D.S., al Coda and al Fine markings
  • Whole, half, quarter, dotted quarter, eighth, dotted eighth, triplet eighth-notes and 16th-note values
  • Whole, half, quarter, dotted quarter, eighth, dotted eighth, triplet eighth, 16th-note rests and rest combinations
  • The construction of any chord found within your piece from the following types: Major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, diminished, major 6 or minor 6
  • The meaning of any dynamic or articulation markings shown on your score

Technical Knowledge

The examiner will also ask one question regarding a technical consideration of the chosen piece, in relation to:

  • Picking hand: Strumming or picking technique for a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable
  • Fretting hand: Fretting position and fingering used to play a short phrase (up to one bar) – demonstration is acceptable

The examiner will choose the section of music and will ask candidates to give a brief explanation as to why the technique was appropriate for the chosen section.

Assessment Criteria

Additional Information

Free Choice Pieces

For all examinations, candidates are able to play a number of free choice pieces:

  • Grade Examinations: Two free choice pieces (a minimum of one piece must be from the Ukulele grade book)
  • Performance Certificates: Three free choice pieces (a minimum of two pieces must be from the Ukulele grade book)
  • 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 they 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.

Free Choice Pieces can be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track), or as a solo piece (without backing track).

Candidates are reminded that RSL examination regulations state that pieces must be performed to the exact requirements as detailed in the relevant syllabus guide. If a performance piece over runs, the examiner can halt the performance and grade material demonstrated until that point only. Candidate mark sheets in this instance will automatically be referred to the Head of Assessment at RSL and may be returned to the candidate with accompanying notes.

Free Choice Pieces must be available in fully notated sheet music. Candidates need to bring a copy of the sheet music for the examiner to refer to during the examination. It is acceptable for candidates to refer to their own duplicate copy during the performance. Candidates are reminded that both copies need to fully reflect the interpretation and intended performance of the piece. Examiners will retain all photocopied materials from the exam session.

If there is any doubt about the appropriateness of the chosen piece, please contact freechoicepieces@rslawards.com.

Instrument Specifications 

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.

Download the Ukulele Syllabus

Download the latest Ukulele Syllabus:

Ukulele Syllabus (2020 Edition)

For candidates taking the 2017-2020 Ukulele syllabus within the crossover period – up to 1st September 2021 – please download the syllabus below:

Ukulele Syllabus (2017 Edition)

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Dates & Fees

Next exam period:

01 February 20 - 31 March 20

Next Closing Date

17 January 20

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Exam Fee

£60.00

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