Frequently asked questions

What is a Rock & Pop Exam? 
Trinity’s groundbreaking Rock & Pop exams for Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards and Vocals provide an opportunity for developing rock and pop musicians to gain recognised qualifications. In the exam, candidates perform carefully chosen and specially arranged songs from a range of rock and pop genres, as well as innovative ‘session skills’ tests. Marks and feedback are provided by a specially trained Rock & Pop examiner.

How can I get a Rock & Pop Syllabus? 
The Rock & Pop Syllabus can be found online here or from the Trinity coordinator in your country. Details of the exams, instruments examined and song lists for each grade are included in the syllabus. 

How much do exams and books cost? 
Please contact the Trinity coordinator for Rock & Pop fee details in your country, or for UK entries check online. There is a song book for each instrument and grade level including a CD of demo and backing tracks. Prices for books and downloads are listed at Trinity’s Online Store. Alternative songs are also available as downloads from the online store.

How can I enter an exam? 
You can enter an exam in the UK via this website. If you want to enter an exam in another country, contact the Trinity coordinator in that country.

Are Rock & Pop Exams a part of Trinity College London?
Yes, Rock & Pop exams are part of a suite of music qualifications offered by Trinity College London across a range of styles, instruments and disciplines. 

What is the difference between the Rock & Pop exams and Trinity College London exams (ie Drum Kit, Guitar, Singing and Electronic Keyboard)?
Trinity’s Rock & Pop exams offer an alternative approach, designed to reflect the way rock and pop musicians learn. The structure and content of the new Rock & Pop exams is different from Trinity’s classical and jazz exams to reflect this, but the levels and validity are the same.

How are the Rock & Pop exams quality assured? 
Rock & Pop exams are regulated by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulations (Ofqual) in England, and by the Welsh Government. UCAS points that can be put towards entry to UK higher education courses are available at Grade 6-8, and various arrangements are in place with governmental education authorities worldwide.

Does Rock & Pop offer band exams?
Rock & Pop offers certificate exams for groups, and music from the Rock & Pop song books can be used as a part of a free-choice programme for these exams. Group certificate exams are offered at foundation level (equivalent to Grade 3), intermediate level (equivalent to Grade 5), and advanced level (equivalent to Grade 8). More info can be found online. Although Rock & Pop exams are primarily aimed at solo musicians, selected pieces at each grade up to Grade 5 appear in the songbooks across all instruments (Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards, and Vocals). This offers a great opportunity to jam in a group, play with friends or build your own band.

Will Rock & Pop be offered for other instruments?
Rock & Pop exams are only offered for Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards and Vocals at this time.

Does Rock & Pop offer teacher-­training workshops?
Training, workshop sessions and presentations are regularly held internationally. These are designed for teachers, learners and anyone interested in these assessments. Details are posted on the news and events page of this website. If you have registered your interest online you will be notified of any events happening in your area.

What is the TF (Technical Focus) song?
One Technical Focus song, featuring specific technical elements, must be performed in the exam. These songs are included in the Rock & Pop books and are highlighted in the syllabus with the letters ‘TF’ . The alternative songs for Vocals also include some Technical Focus pieces.

What are Session Skills?
Candidates must choose to complete one of two Session Skills tests in their exam – Improvising or Playback. These tests help develop important rock and pop musicianship skills.

  1. Playback
    Candidates play music they haven’t seen or heard before, presented as a song chart and an audio recording. They listen to the audio and play back what they hear, reading from the song chart if they wish.
  2. Improvisation
    Candidates improvise over a chord progression played on a backing track. They will be given a previously unseen song chart showing the chord symbols and song style.

Are there alternative keys available for songs in the Vocals syllabus?
Yes, some of the songs at Initial to Grade 5 are available in one alternative key. These are available as downloads. There is also an online transposition tool enabling vocalists to upload and transpose their backing tracks to a key that suits their vocal range. At Grades 6-­‐8 there are two songbooks available for each grade, one for the male voice and one for the female voice, although candidates may choose to perform songs from either book in the exam.

Are candidates able to accompany themselves in their Rock & Pop exam?
Yes, but only for Song 2, which can include (for vocalists) a live self-played accompaniment on any instrument, or (for instrumentalists) added vocals performed live by the candidate. The examiner will only mark the performance on the instrument being examined – for example, vocalists accompanying themselves on guitar will only be marked on their vocal performance.

Can candidates create their own backing tracks to use in Rock & Pop exams?
Candidates may create their own backing track for song 2 if they are performing an own-choice song. Backing tracks for own-choice songs must be of good quality and presented on a computer-readable audio CD or other portable media, eg USB stick or MP3 player. Backing tracks must not include the solo part.

What happens on the day of my Rock & Pop exam?
You should arrive early – 30 minutes before your exam. This gives you time to review your appointment slip (set list), warm up and relax. When you enter the exam room, the Rock & Pop examiner will greet you and review your appointment slip. Adjustments to gear and a sound check will follow. Once levels and gear are set, you will perform two of your songs in the order of your set list. After the second song, you will perform your selected session skills test (playback or improvisation). This will be followed by your third song selection. The exam is then complete.

When will I get my results and Rock & Pop Certificate?
Report forms will be released to teachers and candidates as soon as possible. The report form is a provisional result. Once the results have been processed by Trinity College London, certificates are issued for all successful candidates, normally within eight weeks.

Who are the examiners?
The Rock & Pop examiner panel is carefully recruited and trained; this is an essential aspect of the delivery of all Trinity College London exams. Assessments are made using the published assessment criteria; in this way, examiners deliver the exams and carry out the assessment of the candidates’ performances through a fair and standardised process. Marking is regularly monitored to ensure parity between examiners.

Is Trinity recruiting additional examiners?
Trinity College London is looking for professionals who:

  • Have a broad experience and knowledge of rock and pop music
  • Can carry out assessment fairly and accurately
  • Have people skills, including working with young people
  • Are willing to travel internationally

"IT'S REALLY NICE HAVING THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE WHAT YOU LIKE ... IT'S HELPED ME DEVELOP AS A MUSICIAN."

JOSHUA, GRADE 7 GUITARIST

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