Vocals Grade 2

At Vocals Grade 2 you'll focus on the mechanics of professional vocal performance, from tone and dynamics to chest voice and small intervals. Then your skills will be tested in three short performances (five for performance certificate) of a range of Rockschool compositions and your own choice of tunes.

Exam Times

Grade exam: 25 Minutes (approx.)
Performance Certificate: 25 Minutes (approx.)

Key Features at: Grade 2

  • Dynamic changes, tone, chest voice and small intervals
  • The natural minor scale and minor arpeggio
  • Small major and minor intervals and spoken rhythms

Buy Your Book

The Vocals Grade 2 book is the essential companion to sit your Grade 2 exam, and covers techniques you'll be tested on such as dynamic changes, working on chest voice, and learning scales and arpeggios.

VISIT THE SITE

Vocale Male 1 Vocals Female 2

Exam Structure

There are two types of exams 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 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 

5 Performance Pieces only
(three of these can be Free Choice Pieces)
These account for 20% of the exam mark each.

Performance Pieces

Candidates must prepare a total of three pieces for a Grade Exam and five pieces for a Performance Certificate.

The six songs at grade 2 are:

Female

Blondie - Call Me
Lady Gaga - Poker Face
Jessie J - Price Tag
Amy Winehouse - Rehab
Eva Cassidy - True Colors
Ellie Goulding ‘Your Song’

Male 

Bob Marley - Could You Be Loved
Daft Punk  - Get Lucky
Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dollar
Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset
The Killers - Mr. Brightside

Please note: as of October 2016, the 'Improvisation Requirements' for Performance Pieces - as published in older editions of the 2014 Vocal syllabus - are no longer a mandatory requirement for Rockschool Vocal candidates. Whilst we encourage individual musical interpretation, and candidates are free to improvise, the previous 'Improvisation Requirements' are no longer mandatory.

Technical Exercises

At Grade 2 there are four groups of Technical Exercises. The examiner will ask for a selection from each group.

GROUP A - Scales

Tempo: 80bpm
4/4 time signature

A natural minor scale must be prepared. The candidate may select any starting note between A–E and may choose to sing along to a metronome click or to hear four clicks before the test starts. Whichever option is chosen, the starting note will be heard before the count starts. This test can be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP B - Arpeggios

Tempo: 80bpm
4/4 and 3/4 time signatures

Two different patterns of a minor arpeggio need to be prepared and the examiner will select one of these to be performed in the exam. This test must be performed to a metronome click and any starting note between A–E may be selected by the candidate. The chosen starting note will be played before the count starts. This test can be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP C - Intervals

Tempo: 90bpm

4/4 time signature

In this group the following intervals must be prepared:

  • Major 3rd interval
  • Minor 3rd interval

The candidate will be asked to perform one of these intervals in the exam, as chosen by the examiner. The examiner will choose a starting note within the range of A–C (female) and D-F (male). The candidate will then be required to sing the root note followed by the major 3rd or minor 3rd at the examiner’s choice. The candidate may choose to sing along to a metronome click throughout or to hear four clicks before the test starts. Whichever option is chosen, the starting note will be heard before the count starts. This test may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

GROUP D - Technical Studies

Tempo: 85–120bpm
4/4 time signature

In this group the following studies must be prepared:

  • Rhythmic: Rhythmic accuracy
  • Melodic: Dynamic change

The examiner will ask the candidate to perform one of the above studies in the exam. The examiner will decide which, so both must be prepared before the exam. The Rhythmic Study starts with a four-beat count-in and consists of a four-bar rhythm spoken with lyrics. The Melodic Study starts with the root note followed by a four-beat count-in. The exercise consists of a four-bar melody to be sung with lyrics and dynamic changes.

Supporting Tests

At Grade 2 a choice between Sight Reading OR Improvisation and Interpretation will be offered. A previously unseen test will be used in the exam and an example of this can be found in the Grade 2 book.

Sight Reading

Female: F major or A minor
Male: C major or A minor
Tempo: 70bpm
Range: Up to a Major 3rd

At Grade 2 the Sight Reading test consists of whole notes (semi-breves), half notes (minims), quarter notes (crotchets) and quarter note rests in 4/4. The test is four bars long, starts with the root note and is in one of the above keys. The examiner will allow 90 seconds preparation time and will offer the option of practicing with a metronome click throughout or a four-beat count-in at the start of the practice time. Whichever option is chosen, the practice time will start with the examiner playing the root note and the same choice is available when performing the test.

This test may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

Improvisation & Interpretation

Female: A minor
Male: A minor
Tempo: 80-90bpm

At Grade 2 the examiner will give the candidate a chord sequence in the key of A minor. The candidate must improvise a melody over the backing track. The test is four-bars long and will be heard three times. The first and second time is for rehearsal and the third time is for the candidate to perform the final version for the exam. Each playthrough will begin with the root note and a four-beat count-in. The backing track is continuous throughout, so once the first playthrough has finished, the root note and count-in of the second and third playthroughs will start immediately. This test may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

Ear Tests

There are two Ear Tests: Melodic Recall (Test 1) and Rhythmic Recall (Test 2).

Melodic Recall

Female: C Major
Male: C Major
Tempo: 85bpm

The examiner will play a two-bar melody with a drum backing. The melody will use the first three notes of the C major scale and the first note will be the root note. The test will be heard twice, each time with the root note and a four-beat count-in. There will be a short break to practice after each playthrough. Next a vocal count-in will be heard, after which the melody must be sung to the drum backing. Candidates are permitted to sing over the track as it is being played as well as practicing after the first two playthroughs. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track, so the count-in may begin while the candidate is still practicing.

This test may be performed using any vocal sound except humming or whistling.

Rhythmic Recall

Tempo: 90bpm

Part 1: Rhythmic Recall

The examiner will play a two-bar rhythm played on a single note to a drum backing. The test will be heard twice, each time with a four-beat count-in. There will be a short gap to practice after each playthrough. Next a vocal count-in will be heard, after which the rhythm must be sung back. For this exercise ‘da’ or ‘ba’ vocal sounds must be used. It is acceptable to sing over the track as it is being played as well as practicing after the first two playthroughs. The length of time available after the second playthrough is pre-recorded on the audio track so the vocal count-in may begin while the candidate is still practicing. The test is made up of quarter notes (crotchets), eighth notes (quavers) and quarter note rests.

Part 2: Identification

The candidate will then be asked to identify the rhythm heard in part 1 from two printed examples shown by the examiner.

General Musicianship Questions 

In this part of the exam five questions will be asked. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question will be about the voice.

Music Knowledge

Part 1: General Music Knowledge

The examiner will ask four music knowledge questions. The questions will be based on one of the pieces (including Free Choice Pieces) performed by the candidate in the exam. The candidate can choose which one. If there are handwritten notes on the piece chosen, the examiner may ask the candidate to choose an alternative. The candidate will be asked to identify: Any pitch name (it is not required to state flat, sharp or natural), Whole (semi-breve), half (minim), quarter (crotchet), eighth (quaver) and 16th (semi-quaver) note values

The candidate will be asked to identify and explain:

  • The meaning of the 4/4 time signature marking
  • The meaning of repeat marks, first and second time bars
  • The meaning of staccato marks
  • The meaning of slurs
Part 2: Your Voice

The examiner will also ask one question about the voice. Brief demonstrations to assist answers are acceptable. Candidates will be asked one of the following questions:

  • What is the meaning of ‘diction’?
  • What is the meaning of ‘tone’?
  • During a song, when would be a better time to take a breath?
  • Why is posture important when singing?

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment BandDistinctionMeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range18–2015–1712–146–110–5
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understandingall of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & ExpressionConsistently convincing projection of the music.Mostly convincing projection of the music.Some convincing projection of the music.Music not convincingly projected.No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Technical Exercises

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range13–1511–129–104–80–3
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understandingall of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Ear Tests

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range9–107–863–50–2
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Supporting Tests

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range9–107–863–50–2
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent
skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance

General Musicianship Questions

Attainment BandDistinction MeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range5 correct responses4 correct responses3 correct responses2 correct responses0–1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment BandDistinctionMeritPassBelow PassBelow Pass 2
Mark Range18–2015–1712–146–110–5
Command of InstrumentConsistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughoutMostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overallSome clear production of sound and generally even tone qualitySound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone producedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or PulsePerformance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintainedPerformance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintainedNo attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & UnderstandingAll of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated throughout.

Understanding of musical structure shown all of the time.
Most of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills demonstrated overall.

Understanding of musical structure shown most of the time.
Some of the written music accurately performed or equivalent skills generally demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure shown some of the time.
Written music not accurately performed or equivalent skills not demonstrated.

Understanding of musical structure not evidenced.
No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Style & ExpressionConsistently convincing projection of the music.Mostly convincing projection of the music.Some convincing projection of the music.Music not convincingly projected.No attempt and/or incomplete performance

Additional Information

Free Choice Pieces 

Candidates are able to perform 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)

In vocal exams Free Choice Pieces can be selected from our list of Wider Repertoire - a full list of suggested pieces which can be found on our website. Alternatively, Candidates can choose or compose any song in any genre outside of the grade book and wider repertoire. These songs should 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. Candidates should refer to the Free Choice Piece Criteria available on our website when accessing the level of a potential piece. All pieces must be performed to a backing track.

Free Choice Pieces must be available in fully notated sheet music and Candidates need to bring a copy of the sheet music for the examiner to refer to during the examination. If there is any doubt about the appropriateness of the chosen piece, please contact freechoicepieces@rslawards.com.

Musical Interpretation

Musical Interpretation is allowed at all grades in both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. Rockschool encourages individual musicality, articulation, expression and use of dynamics when performing. This applies anywhere in the exam other than the technical exercises where articulation when specified must be observed. Candidates are reminded that all musical interpretation should be stylistically appropriate.

Use of Microphones

At Grades 1-5 the use of a microphone is optional, although candidates may perform with a microphone if they feel it will enhance their performance n At Grades 6-8 all sections of the exam are to be performed with a microphone.

Candidates can provide their own microphone for the examination should they prefer to use their own equipment, otherwise a microphone and lead will be provided by the centre.

Vocals Syllabus

Get a copy of the Vocals syllabus:

Vocals Syllabus

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