Piano
Debut

The Debut Piano exam is for candidates who have been learning a short time and have developed elementary skills, techniques, co-ordination and musical understanding. There is also an opportunity for basic improvisation.

At Piano Debut you will be examined on your choice of three performance pieces from artists such as Emeli Sandé, Elton John and Justin Bieber.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 15 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 12 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The Debut Piano exam is for candidates who have been learning a short time and have developed elementary skills, techniques, co-ordination and musical understanding. There is also an opportunity for basic improvisation.

At Piano Debut you will be examined on your choice of three performance pieces from artists such as Emeli Sandé, Elton John and Justin Bieber.

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Piano Debut

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary pianist. Piano Debut will provide you with ...
Graded Music Exam Debut

Graded Music Exam: Debut

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. The expectation and length of pieces are designed so candidates can concentrate on the requirements of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/ consistency, technical control and sync at a beginner level.

Featured Repertoire:

  • La Valse d’Amélie – Yan Tiersen
  • Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
  • Lean on Me – Bill Withers
  • The Lumineers – Ho Hey
  • Beauty and the Beast – Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson
  • Next to Me – Emeli Sandé

Technical Exercises

At Debut there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios/Broken Chords and Chord Voicings.

All scales and arpeggios need to be played hands separately, in straight feel, ascending and descending. Pentatonic scales are right hand only.

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.

The book can be used in the exam for Groups A and B. Group C needs to be played from memory. For Group C, candidates will be required to close their grade books.

GROUP A – Scales
Tempo: 52bpm
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter note
Range: One octave

  • C major (right hand)
  • C major (left hand)
  • A natural minor (right hand)
  • A natural minor (left hand)
  • C major pentatonic (right hand)
  • A minor pentatonic (right hand)

GROUP B – Arpeggios/Broken Chords
Tempo: 92bpm
Time signatures: 3/4
Rhythms: Quarter notes, finishing on a dotted half note

  • C major broken chord (right hand)
  • C major broken chord (left hand)
  • A natural minor broken chord (right hand)
  • A natural minor broken chord (left hand)

GROUP C – Chord Voicings

  • C major
  • C minor

Candidates need to play either the C major voicings or the C minor voicings from memory. The examiner will state the exercise. This test is performed in free time (without backing track or click), but the examiner will be looking for the speed of your response.

Supporting Tests

At Debut, candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: C major
Tempo: 60bpm
Time signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half, quarter notes, associated rests

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 4–6 bar melody.

Candidates are required to play hands separately and only single notes will be required to be played with both left and right hands.

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. For the first play through, there will be four clicks. For the test, there will be 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 playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Improvisation and Interpretation

Key: C major
Tempo: 60bpm
Time signature: 4/4

The Improvisation test is in the form of a 4–6 bar chord progression, with all chord symbols indicated.

Candidates are required to improvise single note melodies with either left or right hand. It is permissible to play chord voicings, or use both hands, but marks will only be awarded for melodic content.

Candidates will have 90 seconds to practise after which the examiner will play the backing track twice. The first time is to practise and the second time is to perform the final version for the exam. For each playthrough, 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 playthrough has finished the count-in of the second playing will start immediately.

Ear Tests

At Debut there are two ear tests: Melodic Recall and Chord Recognition. Both are previously unseen and an example of each is shown in the grade book.

Test 1: Melodic Recall
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Half notes

The examiner will play two half notes one after the other. Candidates are to state whether the second note is higher or lower in pitch than the first note. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar count-in. There will also be a C root note at the beginning of the test for reference. For this exercise, candidates are to use the words ‘higher’ or ‘lower’. Credit will be given for speed of response

Test 2: Chord Recognition

Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play two chords, each with a C root note. Candidates are to state which chord played was major and which chord played was minor. The test will be played twice, each time preceded by a one-bar count-in. Credit will be given for speed of response.

General Musicianship Questions

At debut 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
Identification of major / minor triad chord symbols.

Group 2:Melody
A pitch in the treble clef within the stave.

Group 3:Rhythm
Whole / half / quarter notes.

Group 4:Technical
Fingering used in a crotchet length phrase. (Either hand.)

Group 5:Genre
Genre of the piece

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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