Piano
Grade 3

The Grade 3 Piano exam is for candidates who have been typically learning for eighteen months to two years and who are ready to consolidate their final stage as a beginner player. They have mastered the key skills up to Grade 2and since acquired greater use of technique, rhythms, co-ordination and musical understanding. Improvisation phrasing is now confident and articulate and candidates have started to develop the beginnings of stylistic awareness.

You will be examined on your choice of Performance Pieces from artists such as Adele, Coldplay and Nora Jones.

Estimated Examination Time:

  • Grade Exam: 25 minutes (approx.)
  • Performance Certificate: 18 minutes (approx.)
Rockschool Contemporary Piano

Purchase Your Book & Exam Entry

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary pianist. Piano Grade 3 will provide you with everything you need for your Grade 3 exam, including a diverse range of repertoire, a truly innovative range of supporting tests and a vast array of professionally recorded backing tracks and audio examples.

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Piano Grade 3

The essential syllabus for the aspiring, contemporary pianist. Piano Grade 3 will provide you wit...
Graded Music Exam Grade 3

Graded Music Exam: Grade 3

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 continue their understanding and execution of notation accuracy, values, evenness of sound, tone quality/consistency, technical control, expression, articulation and sync at a high beginner level.

Featured Repertoire:

  • Paradise – Coldplay
  • Don’t Know Why – Nora Jones
  • A Whole New World – Brad Kane & Lea Salonga
  • Unfaithful – Rihanna
  • Skyfall – Adele
  • Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Technical Exercises

At Grade 3 there are three groups of technical work: Scales, Arpeggios and Chord Voicings.

Major, natural and harmonic minor scales and arpeggios need to be played hands together, in straight or swung feel, ascending and descending. Pentatonic scales are right hand only. The melodic minor scale needs to be played hands separately, and the chromatic scale on A needs to be played hands together.

The examiner will ask for a selection from each group and A, B and C need to be played to a compulsory metronome click.

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.

Note: the use of any notes or any reading from the grade book when performing Group C will result in a deduction of marks for this element. (See Assessment Criteria).

Any fingerings shown in the grade book are for suggestions only.

GROUP A – Scales

Tempo: 80 bpm
Range: Two octaves
Rhythms: Eighth notes, finishing on a quarter note.

  • E-flat major
  • A major
  • C natural minor
  • F-sharp natural minor
  • C harmonic minor
  • F-sharp harmonic minor
  • E-flat major pentatonic (right hand)
  • A major pentatonic (right hand)
  • C minor pentatonic (right hand)
  • F-sharp pentatonic (right hand)
  • C melodic minor (right hand)
  • C melodic minor (left hand)
  • Chromatic scale on A (right hand)
  • Chromatic scale on A (left hand)

GROUP B – Arpeggios
Tempo: 69 bpm
Time Signature: 3/4, 4/4
Rhythms: 3/4: Eighth notes, finishing on a dotted half note. 4/4: Eighth notes, finishing on a whole note.

  • E-flat major
  • A major
  • C minor
  • F-sharp minor
  • C dominant seventh
  • C minor sixth

GROUP C – Chord Voicings
Tempo: 80 bpm
Rhythm: Half notes

  • C major harmonised scale in 7ths (root in bass)
  • C major harmonised scale in 7ths (3rd in bass)

Candidates will be asked to play one of harmonised scale exercises from memory. The examiner will state the exercise. This exercise is performed to a metronome click.

Supporting Tests

At Grade 3 candidates will be offered the choice between Sight Reading or Improvisation and Interpretation. Both are previously unseen and examples of each are given in the grade book.

Sight Reading

Key: Eb major or A major
Tempo: 60-95 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, dotted half, half, dotted quarter, quarter, eighth notes, eighth note ties, associated rests.

The Sight Reading test is in the form of a 4–8 bar melody.

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: Eb major or A major
Tempo: 60-95 bpm
Time Signature: 4/4

The Improvisation test is in the form of a 4–8 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 Grade 3 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.

Melodic Recall
Key: C major
Tempo: 95bpm
Time Signature: 4/4
Rhythms: Whole, half, quarter notes

The examiner will play a 2 bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, with a range up to a fifth.

The examiner will play a 2 bar diatonic melody in the key of C major, with a range up to a fifth.

There will be a C root note at the beginning of the test, then the melody will be played twice. After this, candidates need to play the melody back to a metronome click. Both playings of the melody and the metronome backing for the exam version will be preceded by a one bar count-in.

The first note of the melody will be the root.

It is acceptable for candidates to play over the track as the test is being played and there will be 10 seconds to practise after the second playing. The piano can be used to assist at any time prior to being counted in to perform the exam version.

Note: the 10 seconds is pre-recorded on the audio track so the count-in for the exam version may begin while candidates are still practising.

Chord Recognition
Tempo: 95bpm
Rhythms: Whole notes

The examiner will play a sequence of chords each with a C root note, then ask the candidate to state the chord quality of two of the chords from a choice of major, minor, diminished, augmented, dominant 7 and major 7th. The examiner will select which two chords.

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 Grade 3 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
Chord degrees of the scale.

Group 2: Melody
Identification of pitches in the bass clef within the stave.

Group 3: Rhythm
Whole, half, quarter, eighth and associated dotted notes/rests, quarter/eighth note triplets and associated rests within one crotchet length.

Group 4: Technical
Fingering used in a bar length phrase. (Both hands.)

Group 5: Genre
Different artists and song titles from the same genre as the piece chosen.

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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