Acoustic Guitar
Grade 6

The Grade 6 Acoustic exam is for candidates who have been typically learning in the region of four or more years and who have reached the first stage of advanced level playing. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 5 and have since developed appropriate technique, expressive devices, rhythmic complexity, co-ordination and musical understanding. Candidates will have an increased extent of individuality, enhanced stylistic awareness and will be able to improvise with convincing shape and articulation. There will be good understanding of form and structure with clear musical communication. There are two types of exam available at Grade 6, either a Grade Exam or Performance Certificate.

This grade features repertoire artists such as Nick Drake, Fats Waller, José González and more!

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 32 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 27 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Acoustic Guitar

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Rockschool Acoustic Guitar Grade 6 book contains everything you need to pass your Grade 6 exam in one essential book, featuring a truly diverse range of contemporary repertoire from some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Nick Drake, Fats Waller, José González and more!

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Acoustic Guitar Grade 6

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary Acoustic Guitarist. This book will provide ...
Graded Music Exam Grade 6

Graded Music Exam: Grade 6

All Instruments - General guidance: Graded Music Exams Overview - How to book an exam UK / Republ...

Performance Pieces

The pieces in the grade book can be used for both the Grade Exam and Performance Certificate. At Grade 6 they are longer, typically in the region of two and a half to three minutes in duration. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can demonstrate the required assessment criteria.

Featured Repertoire:

  • River Man – Nick Drake
  • More than words – Extreme
  • Heartbeats – José González
  • Kiss From a Rose – Seal
  • Shape of My Heart – Sting
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Fats Waller

Technical Exercises

At Grade 6 there are five groups of technical work: Scales, Modes, Arpeggios, Chords and Stylistic Study.

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

Group A, B & C need to be played to a click. The examiner will play the click at the given tempo and candidates should begin to play after four clicks.

Group D needs to be played as directed by the examiner.

Group E is played to the backing track.

GROUP A – Modes
Tempo: q=100 bpm
Rhythms: Eighth Notes

  • Major pentatonic exercise
  • Minor pentatonic exercise

To be prepared as follows:
Root 6th (E) string: key of F#
Root 5th (A) string: key of B

GROUP B – Arpeggios
Tempo: q=80 bpm
Rhythms: Eighth notes
Range: Two octaves

  • Major 7
  • Minor 7
  • Dominant 7

To be prepared as follows:
Root 6th (E) string: key of F, G & A
Root 5th (A) string: key of B, C & D

GROUP C – Chords
To be strummed then arpeggiated.

  • Minor 7b5
  • Diminished 7

To be prepared as follows:

Root 6th (E) string: keys of G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb, B

Root 5th (A) string: keys of C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E

GROUP D – Stylistic Studies
Candidates must prepare their choice of stylistic study from the grade book and perform it to the backing track. Please note: the chosen style for the stylistic study will inform the Quick Study piece.

Styles:

  • Rock & Pop
  • Blues & Country
  • Acoustic Specialist

Supporting Tests

Quick Study Pieces

At this grade candidates will be asked to prepare and play a short Quick Study Piece (QSP). The QSP chosen will be a previously unseen example, but similar to those provided as exemplar material in the grade book.

Candidates will be shown the test and played the track with the notated parts played. Any bars that require improvisation will not be demonstrated. Candidates will then have three minutes to study the test. The backing track will be played twice more. Candidates will be allowed to practise during the first playing of the backing track, with the notated parts now absent, before playing it to the examiner on the second playing of the backing track.

The style of the QSP is determined by the stylistic study selected by the candidate in the technical exercise section. The QSP is in the form of a lead sheet and candidates must create their own interpretation of the music in the parts where instructed to do so.

Styles:

  • Rock & Pop
  • Blues & Country
  • Acoustic Specialist

Ear Tests

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

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Candidates will hear a two-bar melody with a drum backing using the D major pentatonic, D minor pentatonic or G natural minor scale. The first note of the melody will be either the root note or fifth and the first interval will be either ascending or descending. Candidates will need to then play back the melody on their instrument.

The test will be played twice. Each time the test is played it is preceded by a one bar vocal count-in.

The tempo is q=90.

Test 2: Harmonic Recall
Candidates will hear a tonic chord followed by a four-bar sequence in the key of D major played to a bass and drum backing. The sequence will be drawn from the I, ii, iii, IV, V and vi chords and will incorporate a dominant7 (V7) chord. Candidates will be asked to play the chord sequence to the drum backing in the rhythm shown in the example from 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. The test will be played twice.

Each time the test is played the sequence is: count-in, tonic, count-in, chords. There will be a short gap to practise after second playing. Candidates will then hear the count-in and tonic for the third time followed by a vocal count-in then must play the chords to the drum backing. Candidates should then identify the chords. The tempo is q=90.

General Musicianship Questions

Candidates will be asked five questions. Four of these questions will be about general music knowledge and the fifth question asked will be about instrumental & technical knowledge.

Music Knowledge

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

In Grade 6 candidates will be asked to identify:

  • The names of pitches
  • Any expressive musical marking found in the piece such as palm muting, accents, staccato, legato, vibrato
  • Any dynamic marking found in the piece
  • One type of scale that can be used appropriately in the solo section of the piece you have played and its relation to the underlying harmony of the piece (if relevant) or:
  • How you developed a section of the piece (if relevant) or:
  • A stylistic feature of the piece characteristic of its genre

Technical Knowledge

The examiner will also ask the candidate one question regarding a technical consideration of their 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 for a brief explanation as to why the technique was appropriate for the chosen section.

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 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 Tests Candidates respond to 2 aural tests. These account for 10% of the exam marks
5 General Musicianship Questions Candidates 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.

Assessment Criteria

Performance Pieces

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all 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 & Expression Consistently 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 Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 13–15 11–12 9–10 4–8 0–3
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding all 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 Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Accuracy & Understanding All 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 Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 9-10 7-8 6 3-5 0-2
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All 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 Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 5 correct responses 4 correct responses 3 correct responses 2 correct responses 0-1 correct responses

Performance Certificate

Attainment Band Distinction Merit Pass Below Pass Below Pass 2
Mark Range 18-20 15-17 12-14 6-11 0-5
Command of Instrument Consistently clear production of sound and even tone quality throughout Mostly clear production of sound and even tone quality overall Some clear production of sound and generally even tone quality Sound produced is unclear with uneven quality of tone produced No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Sync or Pulse Performance consistently synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance mostly synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance sometimes synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse maintained Performance not synchronised to the music, or an internal pulse not maintained No attempt and/or incomplete performance
Accuracy & Understanding All 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 & Expression Consistently 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

Digital Files

For the RSL shop we’ve chosen the most widely used media for ease of use and flexibility when transferring across different devices.

Every complete digital book (e.g. Electric Guitar Grade 1) includes:

  • PDF sheet music
  • MP3 audio
  • Supporting tests

Download Limits

We know downloading digital content can be frustrating at times which is why we’ve given you multiple chances to download your audio and sheet music.

Each complete digital book purchased includes:

  • 5 audio downloads
  • 3 sheet music downloadsThis means if you misplace your content, or if your download times-out, you’ll still have plenty of attempts to download your content.

Purchase Options

1. Hard Copy

The hard copy or paperback version can be purchased from our shop for shipping to the UK. Orders for shipping to other countries can be placed via www.musicroom.com. The paperback version includes everything you need for your exam in one essential book, including sheet music, a code for access to MP3 audio and complete supporting tests.

2. Digital Download (where applicable)

Digital downloads is the most popular way of purchasing and downloading a Rockschool book, track or supporting test. Rockschool digital book downloads come complete with PDF sheet music, MP3 audio and supporting tests for instant accessibility on all your favourite devices.

Note: Digital sheet music is stamped with your email address and order number.

3. Digital Download + E-Book Access

The RSL e-books, utilising Learning Platform technology powered by MatchMySound, are the ultimate practise tool, giving you the ability to master your instrument like never before.

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