RGT Lead and Rhythm Playing Lesson Grade 1 Rock Guitar

In today’s installment of our RGT Rock Guitar video lesson series, we will be checking out an excerpt from the RGT Rock Grade 1 Exam – ‘Lead and Rhythm Playing.’

This example, from the improvisation section of the RGT Grade One Rock Guitar Exam, uses all fifth ‘power’ chords.

These type of chords instantly give the music an authentic rock sound. Be careful to only strum the indicated two strings when playing these chords.

At this level, the ideal scale for improvising with over the example chord progression shown below is the two octave E blues scale (see fingering below).

When using this scale to make up your lead solo, try and play short musical phrases (‘licks’), rather than a continuous flurry of notes.

As in the exam, the backing track is played five times: listen carefully during the first verse to get a sense of the style and tempo, then use notes from the E blues scale to improvise a lead solo over the next two verses, before switching to rhythm playing for the last two verses.

You don’t need to try and copy the rhythm part that is on the recording; it’s fine to make up your own rhythm style as long as you follow the chord progression accurately.

An example of the type of chord chart that will occur in the RGT Grade One exam is shown below, together with the chord shapes and recommended scale.

You can also click here to purchase the RGT Grade 1 Rock Exam book, which contains more examples of Lead and Rhythm Playing’ as well as all of the other songs and musical requirements for this exam.

To view more articles in this series, please visit the “RGT Rock Guitar Video Lessons Archive.”


Lead and Rhythm Playing – Scale and Chords

When practicing with the backing track provided below, you can improvise over the given chord progression, E5-G5-A5-B5, with the E Blues Scale.

To help you begin your studies with this important and fun to play melodic device, here is a fingering for the E Blues Scale that you can learn, and then use to improvise over the backing track included in this lesson.


RGT Lead and Rhythm Playing Scale


As well, here are the four chord shapes that are used in the backing track, again so that you can get them under your fingers and use them to improvise rhythm parts along with the recording.


RGT Lead and Rhythm Playing Chords


Once you have the E Blues Scale and these four chords under your fingers, you can move on to practicing your lead and rhythm playing along to the backing track below, with an example and explanation of this process provided in the video lesson.


Lead and Rhythm Playing – Audio

Here is a backing track that is built using the four chords mentioned above. To simulate the Grade 1 Rock Guitar Exam situation, put the backing track on and listen to the first run through of the eight-bar form.

After that, solo along with the backing track twice through, before playing the rhythm part twice through.

This is how the lead and rhythm playing portion of the Grade 1 Rock Exam will work, and so practicing in this way at home will allow you to become comfortable with this part of the exam.

Click to download the audio for the Lead and Rhythm Playing Example.


Lead and Rhythm Playing – Sample Solo

Here is the tab and notation for the sample solo that is played in the video below, which only uses notes from the E Blues Scale written out above.

A recommended practice routine would be to play this sample solo along with the backing track for the first time through.

From there, you can improvise over the last four times through, mixing in notes from the E Blues Scale, altering the rhythm of this sample solo, taking notes away, and adding other alterations as you branch out from playing the memorized sample solo into full improvisation with your own ideas.


RGT Lead and Rhythm Playing Solo


Lead and Rhythm Playing – Video

Video presented by Chris Bird, Music Editor of Total Guitar Magazine

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RGT Rock Guitar Grade 1 Books

To find out more about the Lead and Rhythm Playing at this level, and the RGT Rock Grade 1 Exam, please download the RGT Rock Guitar Exam Information Booklet.

You can also check out the Rock Guitar Grade 1 Exam Book, which comes with a CD and contains notation and recordings of all the exam pieces, as well as diagrams for all of the chords and scales that the pieces are based on.


Not a Registered RGT Teacher yet? Visit the Join the RGT Page to find out the great benefits that membership has to offer.

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