If you want to develop your vocal technique while singing some great rock and pop songs, our new exams and songbooks are for you. The Vocals song lists include music by Dusty Springfield, George Michael, Leona Lewis and Jeff Buckley.

Our exams and songbooks are ideal for all rock and pop vocalists – whether you’re self-taught or taking lessons. We’ve designed the exams so they’re about performance and creativity, giving you the skills you’ll need as a rock and pop musician.

For each exam you’ll sing three songs and perform one of the Session skills.


Video demos

Watch our videos on the Vocals grade pages to see professional musicians playing some of the music and demonstrating the technical skills you’ll be working on for your exam.

Watch our vocals demo

Vocalist Kelly Barnes performs music by The Crystals and Frankie Valli from our vocals syllabus. She’s singing to backing tracks from the CDs in our Rock & Pop vocals songbooks.

Songbooks and downloads

We’ve produced a songbook for each grade. Each book is an invaluable resource - it includes the sheet music for six songs, a CD with demo and backing tracks, performance notes and guidance on technical skills and Session skills.

And keep an eye on the website for more songs – we’ll be adding new tracks for each exam, available as downloads from our online store.

The music

As you progress through the grades you’ll explore great classic and contemporary rock and pop music. Our song lists will keep growing – new tracks will be available in our online store.

You decide the set list for your exam to show what you can do. As well as choosing two songs from our song list, you’ve got the option to play your own cover version of a song or a song that you’ve written.

This song may:
• be unaccompanied
• be played to a backing track (you can record this yourself)
• include your own accompaniment, on any instrument, performed live in the exam.
• include an accompaniment played or sung by any one other live musician.

Please see page 12 of the syllabus for full information on choosing songs and providing a copy.

Singing the songs

Choose your songs to suit your vocal style and range. Show how the expressive techniques you have learnt communicate successfully the musical mood, character and style of the songs. 

All songs should be sung with attention to breath control, articulation, diction appropriate to the style, ad libs consistent with the genre, control of tone in sustained notes and when moving across the vocal range, and attention to the dynamics.

It is important to convey a sense of understanding of the meaning of the text through a musical use of these factors to give a sense of performance.

Use of the microphone will be observed and you may wish to bring your own. (This is mandatory in at least one of the songs from Grade 3 onwards.)

If you are singing a song usually written for the opposite gender, then care should be taken with song choice to ensure that the style can be successfully conveyed in a higher/lower voice as appropriate.

Songs 1 and 3 must be sung with the backing track. Only Song 2 may be sung unaccompanied if wished.

If your range suits a different key you can transpose the music using our transposition tool. 

All songs for Song 1 and Song 3 (Technical Focus) must be sung in the original English language. For Song 2 only, candidates can perform a song written in another language. Candidates must supply a copy of the original language and a translation of the text into English for the examiner.

Transposition tool

Candidates entering for Vocals exams can now use the new transposition tool available here.

This allows you to transpose songs by +/- five semitones, save the new key versions to disc or mp3 and use them in the exam. Please note that the examiner will not have their own transposed versions of backing tracks, so it's important that you bring your transposed tracks in with you.

For further information on Vocals please see page 31 of the syllabus. 

The session skills

The Session skills - Improvising and Playback – develop important skills that musicians need.

When performing the Improvising Session skills test, vocal candidates are responsible for choosing a suitable tone quality and using appropriate expressive techniques to communicate the style of the music. This may include (depending on the grade of exam being taken): choosing a suitable phrase or lyric; changing the vocal tone, range and rhythmic pattern at some point to add contrast and develop the material sung; using a variety of dynamic levels; use of sustained phrases, vocal effects and articulations appropriate to the style. 

When performing the Playback Session skills test, vocal candidates should follow the musical direction in the written score, and copy the expressive techniques heard on the track. No variation or improvisation is required – the song chart/recording should be copied as accurately as possible, including details of phrasing, articulation and dynamics.

2015-17 SYLLABUS