To celebrate our 30th anniversary we’re looking back at some of the highlights from over the years.

All this week we'll be taking a trip down memory lane and reminiscing about some of the milestones that we've hit. In this blog, we're taking a look at some of the key syllabuses we've released in recent years, as well as throwing it back to the '90s with some exclusive images of early handwritten Rockschool syllabuses!

Dipping into the archives

We've been hard at work preparing for our 30th anniversary celebrations, and during the process we've managed to rediscover some old gems from back in the '90s.

RSL Awards was formerly known as Rockschool Ltd, and our logo has come a long way since we started back in 1991. Check out how it used to look back in the day!

Nowadays all of our scores are available digitally and supported by innovative technology like the RSL Learning Platform and Replay but it wasn't always like this!

The first Rockschool scores were handwritten, including this early chart for 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder.

Music Production

Technology has permanently changed how music is made, consumed, and taught, and we acknowledged this with our 2016 Rockschool Music Production syllabus.

The initial release was the world's first graded syllabus in Music Production, and it's gone from strength to strength, with such high demand that we released an updated version in 2019 allowing students greater creative freedom than ever before.

Be sure to check out a whole host of blogs on music production, including a look at how it's evolved over the years.

Guitar, Bass & Drums

Fast forward to 2018 and we launched the Rockschool Guitar, Bass and Drums grade books for 2018-2024. These syllabuses include much-loved Rockschool Originals as well as arrangements of titles reflecting rock and pop’s musical heritage in all its forms (including blues, rock, pop, soul, funk, R&B, jazz fusion, reggae, punk rock, alternative rock, grime and hip hop) and have tailored each piece to make it exactly right for the grade. That means there's a whopping 12 pieces per grade to choose from!

The arrangements were written and performed by top session musicians who have worked with some of the biggest names in rock and pop. The tracks were recorded live at Real World’s acclaimed recording studios and feature live instruments and first rate performances for an unrivalled level of feel, authenticity, and musicianship

Piano & Keys

In 2019 we revamped our Piano and Keys offering, splitting them into their own syllabuses. The Keys syllabus includes specific arrangements to utilise varied levels of sound manipulation, patch switching, layers and splits, with the Piano syllabus exploring the capabilities of the acoustic piano in contemporary rock, pop and beyond!

Each grade features a collection of meticulously researched, and suitably arranged tracks from artists including: The Beatles, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Keane, John Legend, The Police, David Bowie, Queen, Chvrches, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, and Snarky Puppy and many more! They also contain music from films and musicals such as: The Greatest Showman, The Lion King, Frozen, E.T. and Wicked.


2019 was a busy year for us, as we also updated our Acoustic syllabus in a big way. We hand-picked tunes from some of the world's biggest artists across a diverse range of genres to provide students with an expansive song choice to use in their exam and for their own enjoyment. Designed for all types of aspiring guitar players, at each grade Rockschool Acoustic includes four session-style songs featuring recorded vocals, and two instrument-specific solo guitar arrangements to allow students to recreate a studio style session!

We were delighted to include an arrangement of a You Me At Six song, 'Take On the World', which was recorded by Max Helyer, guitarist for You Me At Six and former Rockschool student! Here he is discussing his journey to the top.


Earlier this year we launched our latest Rockschool Vocals syllabus with updated, refreshed and expanded repertoire!

Rockschool Vocals is no longer split into male and female syllabuses, introducing students to a broader range of repertoire and technical exercises. Gender and ethnicity are well represented throughout the grades, whilst the repertoire expands upon a range of genres and styles that will encourage students with popular modern songs as well as connecting them to an array of established songs that exemplify vocal performance. There are also new piano arrangements for each piece, making Rockschool Vocals the perfect audition and recital tool.

RSL Classical

Okay it's not *strictly* Rockschool, but we couldn't cover our graded music exams without mentioning RSL Classical!

RSL Classical landed with a bang at the end of 2020, with our first syllabus, Classical Piano, proving an instant hit with students and teachers alike. Featuring a hugely diverse range of composers and artists, you can check out the highlights from each syllabus in our What's The Score series.

We hope you enjoyed this overview of how our syllabuses have progressed over the years! There will be plenty more content celebrating our 30th anniversary on its way this week!