Our Rock & Pop exams for groups look at your band's ability to plan and play a set (90 marks) and presentation skills (10 marks). You’ll find information about songs, set duration and how to enter for Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced exams below.
PLAN AND PLAY A SET
Choosing your songs
Your band can choose the music that makes up the set list for the exam. At Foundation and Intermediate level, we specify one song to include, but the rest is free choice and can include your own original material. At Advanced level you are free to select the entire set list. You will need to check that the level of difficulty of the songs you choose is similar to the songs set for the equivalent grade in our solo exams (Foundation = Grade 3, Intermediate = Grade 5 and Advanced = Grade 8).
The compulsory songs set at Foundation and Intermediate level have been carefully arranged to suit a five-piece band of bass, drums, guitar, keyboard and vocals. However, any band of two or more players/singers can enter a group exam and present their own interpretation of the specified song. Arrangement of the compulsory song should be made to suit the particular performers in the group. The arrangement can be from a commercial source, arranged by the performers themselves, or by a teacher.
Amps and Equipment
Groups requiring amplification not covered by the syllabus kit-list will need to bring their own additional equipment including cables, microphones and stands. Vocal groups and backing singers will usually require a microphone for each performer, so it’s a good idea to contact your local centre to check that the PA meets your needs. All members of a vocals only group should use a microphone for at least one of the songs, unless you are part of a large vocal group, when it may be necessary to perform without microphones – please check with us before entering.
Backing tracks may be used for vocal groups of two or more singers when no instrumentalists are also in the group, however all other line-ups should play all parts live. Vocal groups should provide the backing tracks to the examiner on CD or other portable media, in the order to be performed during the set.
Vocal groups may perform songs a) along with a backing track, as above, or b) unaccompanied – ‘a capella’. There is also the option for ONE song only to be accompanied ‘live’ by one musician e.g. a piano accompanist or guitarist (who may be the teacher).
Vocal groups may be directed by a non-performing director/conductor (who may be the teacher), or they can perform without a separate director. All instrumental groups must perform without a separate director, although as is usual within a band, any of the band members can take the lead for indicating intros and endings, tempi, solo slots, etc.
Your band, your way
You’ll want to show off the talents of individual group members in your set, so it’s a good idea for each member of the group to perform at least one solo slot, as bands do in real live gigs. It could be a short solo at Foundation level, a little longer at Intermediate and by Advanced level you can show off your more developed musical and technical skills.
Bands with more than one guitarist should feature at least some rhythm and lead playing by all players and a band with multiple singers could feature some harmonised backing vocals in addition to the solo slots. Our groups exams allow you to use your imagination and be creative in shaping your bands sound.
Being in a band isn’t just about playing your tunes well, you should also think about what songs to play and in which order, how you want to look on stage, how slick your changes are between songs, what you might say in between songs, the balance of your sound levels and making sure your set fits the time slot you’ve been given.
You should also think about your promo pack which contains everything from your band biography to publicity pictures and your set list.
Ten marks are awarded for Presentation Skills - broken down as follows:
Programme Planning (3 marks)
This looks at your choice of songs and the overall balance of your set. Credit is given for a programme that allows your band to present a variety of skills, styles and moods. The timing of your set is also assessed here.
Promo Pack (4 marks)
Marks are awarded for your promo pack, which is given to the examiner at the start of the exam. What you include in your promo pack is up to you, but this is a good chance to impress with neatly presented, well thought out promotional material.
Your promo pack could include:
- A photo of the band, the band name and a brief description of how the band was formed and information about the style of music you play and about each musician
- A set list of the tracks performed in the exam along with timings for each song
- Written notes providing musical detail about each song. If it’s a cover version you could write about the original band to give some context, or if it’s an original song written by you, you could describe your writing methods and inspiration
- Any other information you feel is relevant for example, you could include details about previous gigs played, links to your website or online profiles such as SoundCloud and upcoming plans for the band
The promo pack can be presented in any language, but a translation into English should also be provided. Someone outside of your band is able to do the translation for you if you wish. If you have done any research for your promo pack, remember to write in your own words, and to include a list of reference sources including websites.
Stagecraft (3 marks)
From the moment you walk into the exam room your band is right in the spotlight. From plugging in, through the sound check and into the performance, you are demonstrating your professionalism as a group. The examiner will let you present your set as if it were a public gig, so be sure to brush up on all areas of your presentation to impress.
Your band will be assessed using the same areas as the solo Rock & Pop exams – Fluency and Musical Detail, Technical Control and Communication & Style. Each section will be awarded a mark out of 30, to which will be added your Presentation Skills mark out of 10.
Get your band off to a flying start with a Rock & Pop group exam. The Groups Foundation Certificate is the equivalent of a Grade 3 individual exam.
At Foundation level, your band will play All Day And All Of The Night by The Kinks. The music is available in the Grade 3 songbooks for Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards and Vocals. You can also download the individual sheet music and backing and demo tracks from our online store.
Your band’s set at Foundation level will last 8–10 minutes. You choose the rest of the music that makes up your set, but it must be at a Grade 3 musical and technical level. If you’re songwriters you can play one of your own songs.
Get your band ready to play gigs with a Rock & Pop group exam. The Groups Intermediate Certificate is the equivalent of a Grade 5 individual exam.
RAGGLE TAGGLE GYPSIES
At Intermediate level, your band will play the traditional number The Raggle Taggle Gypsies. The music is available in the Grade 5 songbooks for Bass, Drums, Guitar, Keyboards and Vocals. You can also download the individual sheet music and backing and demo tracks from our online store.
Your band’s set at Intermediate level will last 15–20 minutes. You choose the rest of the music that makes up your set, but it must be at a Grade 5 musical and technical level. If you’re songwriters you can play one of your own songs.
Your band can plan and play a full-length set with a Rock & Pop Advanced group exam. The Groups Advanced Certificate is the equivalent of a Grade 8 individual exam.
At Advanced level, there is no specified song from the Trinity songbooks to include. You may select your own set list; however the pieces must reflect the level of musicianship and technical skill required for Grade 8. The Grade 8 songbooks and online downloads provide good examples of the expected skill level required and you can check the parameters for details. Your band arrangements will need to ensure that each instrumental line is of the required standard for the advanced level.
Your band’s set at Advanced level will last 25–30 minutes, and you can choose songs that you will perform as long as they are at a Grade 8 musical and technical level. If you’re songwriters you can play your own original music in your set.
ENTER YOUR BAND
Group exam entry form (PDF)
To enter your band, please complete the entry form above, using the subject code RP. Send the completed form to:
Rock & Pop Coordinator
Trinity College London
Blue Fin Building
110 Southwark Street
London SE1 0TA
Make sure that your band’s name is on the form when you return it – this is the name that will go on the report form and the certificate. If your band passes the exam, every band member will receive a certificate.