Known as the leader in guitar examination and education, RGT syllabi currently cover a wide range of styles and experience levels, ensuring that there is the right exam for any Rock, Jazz, Electric, Acoustic or Bass guitarist wishing to better themselves on the instrument.
One of the most popular choices for candidates taking RGT exams, the Acoustic Guitar Exam Syllabus offers exams from the Initial Stage all the way up to Teaching Diploma level.
In this acoustic guitar exam preview article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the requirements needed to take the RGT Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam.
Feel free to bookmark this article, then come back to it as you begin to learn and explore the various sections of the Preliminary Grade Acoustic Exam with your teacher and in your personal study.
Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam Intro
The Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam is aimed towards candidates that are 7 years of age and older, and the exam will last approximately 12 minutes.
Though it is recommended that candidates study for and perform the Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam on an Acoustic (Flattop) guitar, the use of a nylon string is perfectly fine.
As well, the use of an electric guitar for this exam is allowed, but is not recommended.
There are three main sections to this exam, Fingerboard Knowledge, Performance and Aural Assessment, which are outlined in detail below.
Each section of this exam is geared towards introducing you to scales and chord shapes on the guitar, building your performance ability through the study of chord progressions and melody lines, and developing the ability to recognize common musical material by ear.
Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam Breakdown
To help you have a better understanding of what is required from this exam, here is a brief outline of the three main sections of the RGT Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam.
More information for all of these items can be found in the RGT Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam Book, and it is recommended that any guitarist attempting this exam purchase and work through this book in their preparations.
The exam entry form is also contained in the book, which is necessary to fill out and submit before registering for the RGT Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam.
In this section of the Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam, which is worth 15 marks, candidates will be prepared to perform six different chords, C-D-G-Am-Em-Dm, as well as two one-octave scales, ascending and descending C major and G major.
When performing the chords in this section of the exam, 3-note shapes are acceptable as well as larger shapes in open position.
During the exam, the examiner will ask to hear some or all of these requirements, and one strum of each chord, and one performance of each scale both ascending and descending, will be sufficient to demonstrate your knowledge of these technical items in the exam.
Remember, while knowing these items is key, there is a strong importance placed on chord clarity and scale evenness, so make sure to work on these aspects of your playing in the practice room before taking the exam.
If you have already taken the Initial Stage Acoustic Guitar Exam, then many of these items will be review for you at this point, allowing you to focus more of your attention in the practice room to the Performance and Aural Assessment sections of the 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.
The Performance section for the Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam is divided into two sections, the Rhythm Study which is worth up to 25 marks, and the melody section, which is worth up to 50 marks.
Each Rhythm Study and Melody from this section of the exam can be read from the Preliminary Grade Handbook, as they are not required to be memorized in order to achieve full marks in this section of the exam.
Candidates will need to prepare one of the rhythm studies from the Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Book, as they will be asked to perform this piece unaccompanied during the exam.
The melody component of this exam has two sections, consisting of the performance of two melodies chosen from the Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Book, which are again played on your own during the exam. One of these melodies can be a “free choice,” and you can find more details about these choices at the RGT Acoustic Guitar Preliminary Grade Exam Page.
Because there are two songs to be performed during this section of the Preliminary Grade Exam, each melody is worth 25 marks, for a total of 50 for the melody section as a whole.
As you can see, the Performance section of the exam is worth 75 out of a possible 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 Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam.
The Aural Assessment section of this exam is new to those that have already sat the Initial Stage Acoustic Guitar Exam, as it was not on the list of requirements for that syllabus.
During this section of the exam, candidates will be asked to complete five tests related to their abilities to hear and recognize time signatures, rhythmic pulse, harmony and melody on the guitar.
For the first three questions, the examiner will perform a short melodic phrase, during the second performance of that melody line, candidates will be asked to clap along with the pulse, accenting the downbeat (first beat) of each bar as they clap along.
After this test has been completed, candidates will be asked to identify the key signature of that phrase, as well as clap back the exact rhythm of a short section of that melody which the examiner will perform twice on its own.
During the fourth test in this section, candidates will be asked to identify the highest and lowest notes after the examiner has played two notes on the guitar.
To finish this section, candidates will be asked to identify chords after they have been played by the examiner on the guitar.
Though this section is only worth 10% of the overall mark, this can often make the difference between achieving a higher or lower band on the exam, such as a Merit versus Distinction.
Therefore, while it may not be as enjoyable for some to practice aural skills as it is to practice songs, it is worth spending a little time each day developing your aural skill set in the practice room.
Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam Tips
To help you begin your study of the RGT Preliminary Grade Acoustic Guitar Exam material, here are a few quick tips to use when studying the technical, aural assessment and performance sections of the exam.
1. Go slow when practicing and playing your scales. It is better to play slow and clean, than fast and unclear, when it comes to the technical requirements of the exam.
2. Performing pieces in any exam can make us nervous. In order to combat any nervousness you may feel in an exam, perform each of your pieces for your family, friends and others before you take the exam. A few run throughs of the exam pieces beforehand in front of people you know will usually help in getting over any jitters you may have during this section of the exam.
3. Though the Aural Assessment is only 10 marks, it can be a good place to increase your overall attainment level on the exam. So make sure you don’t ignore ear training in the practice room leading up to your Preliminary exam.
4. When performing the melodies on this exam, make sure to address any repeat signs or other markings on the form in order to ensure that your performance is as true to the written music as possible.
To find out more about the RGT Preliminary Grade 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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