Rockschool Exam Grades for Piano – an alternative to the ABRSM Classical and Jazz Grades

This Summer I am entering my first group of students for Rockschool piano exams. After teaching ABRSM and Trinity classical piano graded exams for many years, I decided to investigate the Rockschool syllabus as the more formal classical exams aren’t that stimulating for some students, particularly teenagers.

In 1993 Rockschool launched the very first integrated rock music graded music exams for electric guitar, bass and drums. Rockschool is committed to making music examinations and qualifications practical, flexible and fun by offering rock musicians the opportunity to get the same qualifications as classical musicians. They believe that popular music has a place in all levels of education.

Each grade has a wide choice of repertoire that covers all the key skills required at that level. The tunes are written to reflect popular rock styles and inspire improvisation.

There are two types of exams offered by Rockschool, at each grade; Grade Exams and Performance Certificates. Grade Exams consist of 3 performance pieces, technical exercises and musicianship tests. Whereas Performance Certificates consists of 5 performance pieces and no other tests or exercises.

The exams also accredited and have respective QCF credit values and UCAS points. Other instruments available for examination are guitar, vocals, drums, bass and band exams.


My piano students taking Debut Level have all passed their Prep Test and are Level Grace is taking her Grade 1 rockschool exam and Boo, Merlin and Thomas will be taking their Debut grade in Summer 2011.

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5 Responses to Rockschool Exam Grades for Piano – an alternative to the ABRSM Classical and Jazz Grades

  1. Claire Francey says:

    Rockschool gave my son a pass grade 3 piano. Tutor thought harshly marked compared to ABRSM and should have been a merit.
    Poor set up. Digital piano, no piano stool. Expected to sit on drum stool.
    Assured proper piano would be there for exam.
    Will rethink grade 4 module!

  2. Susan says:

    Hi,
    Wondering what’s your opinion between classical and rockschool.
    My son is doing debut level Rockschool and wondering if I’m making the right decision 😁

    • Lorraine says:

      Debut level Rockschool is a lot of fun and the pieces are appealing to students that do not find traditional or classical music that inspiring. Do remember that sitting graded exams is an optional exercise. Many young musicians find it more rewarding to learn music for pleasure, not for examination. See how your son gets on with Debut level. If he is keen to continue with Rockschool then go for it!

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