I came across Rockschool recently and to be honest the name alone put me off. But looking a little at the material for vocalists at it sounds OK.

How does it compare with more traditional exam grading systems (ABRSM is the one I know) in terms of syllabus? And is it respected by musicians and music teachers?

  • I'm a guitarist with a basic working knowledge of music theory, who has been having singing lessons for about a year, FWIW.
    – Mr. Boy
    Dec 12, 2016 at 15:17
  • I did a couple of Rockschool grades on bass, about 10 years ago. Back then, it was part of Trinity-Guildhall which may have helped to reassure people of its quality. I think - please correct me if I'm wrong - it's been spun out as its own body in recent years - make of that what you will! It may be that Rockschool was seen as more about 'musicality' and 'performing as an artist' rather than the more technical nature of ABRSM (and Trinity). There was more focus on jazz scales etc. than with the traditional exams. Dec 12, 2016 at 22:28

1 Answer 1


The styles are the antithesis of each other. Obviously, for the Rockschool method, you would focus completely on modern styles of music where ABRSM, for instance, would be completely focussed on classical repertoire.

Generally speaking for the rock stuff you will sing with a backtrack where with the classical stuff you would have piano accompaniment.

According to the official Rockschool Website for a Rockschool exam, you would sing three songs. The first song is chosen from their books, you can also choose a song from the website. Song 1 counts 25 marks and you need 15 marks for a pass.

Song 2, here you can choose another song from the book, you can also choose something of your own composition or some third party piece.

For song two you may add your own accompaniment (Either guitar or keyboard), you are also allowed to be accompanied by another artist. Song 2 counts 25 marks and you need 15 for a pass.

Song 3 you have to choose between one of the two technical focus songs from the book or from the website. They cover three technical aspects of the instrument. It counts 30 marks and you need 18 for a pass.

There is also the session skills that comprise either of playback or improvising. This counts 20 marks and you need 12 for a pass.


The ABRSM website gives the following guidance in regards to there voice exams.

Singing exams consist of three accompanied songs at Grades 1–5 and four accompanied songs at Grades 6–8, chosen by the candidate from the appropriate lists in the current syllabus, an unaccompanied traditional song, sight-singing and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. 100 marks are required to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

There are eight grades of assessment. Select a grade using the links below in order to view the syllabus and supporting materials for that grade.

  • ABRSM is in no way 'completely focussed on classical repertoire'. Of the 3 sections where choices have to be made, one is 'classical' - baroque onwards, another is often romantic etc., and one can have pieces that have just been written specially for that exam - bang up-to-date. That's for piano, at least, and I can't see why it wouldn't be reflected throughout other instruments, inc. vox. True, Rockschool (RSL) is very modern.
    – Tim
    Dec 17, 2016 at 16:33
  • I meant classical music in general.
    – Neil Meyer
    Dec 17, 2016 at 16:46
  • 1
    Ah, classical as in 'non-pop'. Although often in the C list there are very jazz orientated pieces that wouldn't come under classical at all.
    – Tim
    Dec 17, 2016 at 17:25

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