As the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam pathway becomes the most popular choice for guitarists and teachers alike, we have put together a series of articles to help you better understand how these exams work and how you can fully prepare yourself and these students for these exams.
With exams starting at the Initial Stage and moving up to Acoustic Guitar Teaching Diploma exams, RGT Acoustic Guitar Exams have something for guitarists of every experience level who are seeking to improve their skill set and understanding of the Acoustic Guitar.
In this article, we will introduce you to the requirements for the RGT Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Please bookmark this page and come back when necessary as you study the various sections of this exam with your teacher, or with your student, in your personal practice and weekly guitar lessons
Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Intro
The RGT Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam is geared towards candidates that are older than 13 years of age, with the exam lasting approximately 18 minutes.
While it is suggested that candidates study for and perform this exam on an Acoustic (Flattop) guitar, the use of a nylon string is perfectly acceptable.
Whilst the use of an electric (solidbody) guitar for any Acoustic Guitar Exam will be allowed, it is not recommended in place of an Acoustic or Classical Guitar.
There are five main sections to the Grade 4 RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam, Fingerboard Knowledge, Performance, Musical Knowledge, Accompaniment, and Aural Assessment, which are explored in more detail below.
When brought together, these separate sections of the exam are designed to introduce guitarists to new scales and chord shapes on the guitar, enhancing performance ability through the study of chord progressions and melodic lines, and increasing one’s knowledge of the instrument, aural skills and related music theory concepts.
Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam Breakdown
To provide you with a deeper understanding of what is required from this exam, we have put together a detailed outline for the five (5) main section of the RGT Acoustic Guitar Grade 4 Exam.
All of these items can also be found in the RGT Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam Handbook, and it is recommended that any candidate taking this exam purchase and work through this book with their preparations.
The exam entry form is also contained in the book, which you are required to fill out and submit before registering for this or any RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Every section of the exam differs in the amount of marks awarded for each requirement.
To give you an understanding on how many marks each section is worth, here is a quick breakdown of each section that you can keep as a reference when preparing for the RGT Acoustic Guitar Grade 4 Exam.
- Fingerboard Knowledge 10 Marks
- Performance 50 Marks
- Musical Knowledge 10 Marks
- Accompaniment 20 Marks
- Aural Assessment 10 Marks
As you can see in this layout, using this division of marks will help you organize your practice time, as you can spend more time preparing for the sections that are worth more marks, and less time on sections that have less marks in order to ensure that you have spent enough time on each section of the exam relevant to the marks awarded for that section.
During the first section of the exam, the examiner will ask for a selection of chords and scales to be performed by the candidate from memory.
For the chord section, each requested chord should be slowly strummed once by the candidate. The scales should be played ascending and descending without repeating the top note of the scale when changing directions in the scale.
In the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam, you will be required to have knowledge of the chords and scales from the previous three exams, as well as a number of new chords and scales to be chosen by the examiner in this exam.
New required material consists of A6, D6, E6, G6, Aadd9, Cadd9, Eadd9, Fadd9, and Gadd9 open/first-position chords, as well as two-octave open positions for E Major, E Natural Minor and E Blues.
Students will also be asked to perform two-octave fretted major scales, played without the use of open strings, for the keys of G, A, C and D.
This is a new requirement compared to previous exam grades, so make sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with these new scale shapes in the practice room.
Remember, while playing the correct chord is very important, there is a strong importance placed on chord clarity and scale evenness, so make sure to practice these aspects of your playing in your studies before attempting this exam.
If you have already taken the earlier exams then many of the items required in this section will be review for you at this point in your development.
This will allow you to focus more of your attention in the practice room on the other four sections of the Grade 4 exam.
If this is your first RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam, then more time will be needed to fully ensure that you are secure with each of the chords and scales from this section, both the new requirements and those included in the previous exams.
The Performance requirements for the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam are divided into two separate sections, the Rhythm Study which is worth up to 25 marks, and a Solo Piece, which is worth up to 25 marks for the piece that the candidate chooses to perform from these two selections.
The Rhythm Study and Solo Piece from this section of the exam can be read from the Grade 4 Handbook as they are not required to be memorized in order to achieve full marks for this section of the exam.
Candidates will need to prepare one of the Rhythm Studies from the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam Book, as they will be asked to perform this piece unaccompanied during the exam.
The Solo Piece component of this exam can be chosen from the songs presented in the Grade 4 Exam Book, (Freight Train – C Major, Down by the Sally Gardens – D Major, Let Love Add Up – A Major, and The Rakes of Mallow – G Major) or can be a “free choice” or “self-composed” piece of at least a similar technical standard and duration to the melodies found in the exam handbook.
You can find more details about these free choices at the RGT Acoustic Guitar Grade 4 Exam Page.
As there are two pieces to be performed during the Performance section of the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam (one rhythm study and one solo piece), each piece is worth a maximum of 25 marks, for a total of 50 for this performance section.
As you can see, the Performance section of the exam is worth 50 out of a total 100 marks, and therefore it is recommended that you spend enough time in the practice room to fully prepare to be successful during this section of the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam.
If you have already taken a previous Acoustic Guitar Exam, then you will be familiar with the overall concept of this section of the Grade 4 Exam. Though here, there are some differences from the musical knowledge sections of previous exams.
Questions in this section will be asked to test the candidate’s knowledge of the solo pieces performed (e.g. key, time signature, understanding of dynamics and repeat marks, techniques used).
Because of this change, working with your teacher in order to understand the building blocks and formal aspects of the pieces you play will be beneficial when it comes to this section of the Grade 4 Exam.
In this section of the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam, the examiner will play a short melody and the candidate will provide the accompaniment for this melody.
The melody presented here could be drawn from one of a range of musical styles that you would normally associate with the acoustic guitar, including traditional folk, contemporary folk and blues.
After the chord chart is presented to the candidate, and they are given a short time to look it over, the examiner will play the melody through once and you may listen and follow along during this first run through.
The melody will then be played three more times without stopping as the candidate attempts a suitable accompaniment over the melody. In the first verse of the three continuous playings your playing will not be assessed.
You can either sit and listen to the melody or practice your rhythm playing during this first verse of the three. The style of accompaniment will be left up to the discretion of the candidate, and they can choose to either fingerpick or strum the chords along to the melody.
For the Grade 4 Exam, the time signature will be limited to 4/4 and 3/4 time.
The Aural Assessment section of the Grade 4 exam will be relatively familiar for those candidates that have already taken any previous RGT Acoustic Guitar Exams.
Here, you will be tested on your aural abilities via five individual tests appropriate for this grade level.
Tests A, B and C – In this section, a four-bar melody will be played and the tests will involve clapping the pulse of the melody, identifying the time signature of the same melody, as well as reproducing the rhythm of an extract taken from the melody.
Test D – Here, you will reproduce on guitar a short melodic phrase after the examiner has performed it twice for you on their instrument.
Test E – The final aural assessment test involves recognizing chords and movement between chords appropriate for this grade level.
Since aural skills are often a weak point for developing acoustic guitarists, spending time in each lesson and practice session will help prepare you to be successful in this section of the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Exam Quick Tips
To help you prepare and give you further insights into the Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when studying for and sitting this exam.
1. Many candidates who have taken previous exams will sometimes focus all their practice time on the new Technical Requirements rather than review previous exam material from that section. All previous technical items can be requested in the exam, so make sure to spend some time reviewing so you don’t get caught off guard in this section of the exam.
2. Though only a few keys are required for the fretted scale shapes in this exam, working scales in 12 keys can help build confidence and a higher level of fretboard knowledge that can help in the exam room if nervousness becomes an issue on this section of the exam.
3. Most guitarists will spend more time practicing, and do better on exams, with a piece that they enjoy listening to and playing. Therefore it’s always a good idea to have your teacher play through the different pieces from this exam and then choose the one you like best. That way you will prepare your favorite piece from the syllabus, rather than randomly picking one from the list.
To find out more about the RGT Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar Exam, please visit the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam page, or feel free to read and download the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam Handbook and the RGT Acoustic Guitar Exam Syllabus from the RGT website as well.
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