What are guitar exams all about?
After receiving my students’ latest guitar grade results it got me thinking about guitar exams. I wanted to share some of my incites into what is involved in a guitar exam and the reasons and motivations behind why some students like to take them periodically.
Why do students take guitar exams?
Guitar exams are essentially a way for students to be able to recognise their level and ability at various stages of their learning. For those of your who like to set goals and aims guitar exams are a really good way to do this. By preparing for a guitar grade you are given a time frame and a set syllabus to learn in that period. It can give you focus, motivation and an ultimate destination to your practise. There is also a self satisfaction that students get when they take time to prepare for something and then are rewarded with a grade certificate.
What is involved in a guitar exam?
Guitar grades are split into different sections. One part of the exam is a performance section which relies on heavy preparation. You have to learn a set of pieces which you then perform in front of an examiner. Each examining board has a slightly different marking system and criteria so be sure to look at the syllabus first before you set off.
After the performance section there is another prepared section for scales, arpeggios and exercises. Here you must learn a set of scales etc in various positions on the guitar.
You then have a section called the aural test which involves listening and answering some questions related to what you’ve heard. These may involve rhythm, time signatures, intervals, key signatures and various guitar techniques.
As a general consensus the least favourite section is generally sight reading. This is a piece of music you will not have seen until the exam. You will then have to perform the music after a short time of preparation.
Once you’ve gone through these core sections the exam is basically over and it’s then a waiting game for your results.
What type of guitar exams can you take?
At the moment for guitar you have a nice mix of guitar exams on offer. You can take grades for rock guitar, classical guitar, acoustic guitar and jazz guitar. Different examining boards offer different types of grades so it’s important to know which examining body to use for your guitar type.
What examining boards are there?
The main examining bodies in the UK are:
- Trinity College London (classical guitar)
- ABRSM (classical guitar)
- Rock School (rock, acoustic and jazz guitar)
- RGT (acoustic guitar and jazz guitar – diploma only)
Where do you get the guitar exam books from?
Do you want to take a guitar exam?
Have you been thinking about taking an exam for guitar and need some help? As a guitar teacher for over ten years I have guided a large amount students to successfully passing their grades. With regular weekly guitar lessons and the right type of encouragement you will find yourself passing even the most challenging guitar exam. If you do want to take a grade or just start up guitar lessons for fun feel free to get in touch.