How to choose the right pieces for your Grade 1 exam

Posted by Jean McCreery on 11 July 2017

Topic: 2017 Note Race, Music, Grade 1 exam

It was way back in 1989 that the New York based hip-hop trio ‘De La Soul’ released their seminal album 3 Feet High and Rising, featuring the song: 3 Is The Magic Number. 

It's a real earworm, go on give it a listen, I bet you’ll be joining in with the chorus in no time...

But what’s this got to do with my Grade 1 exam preparations for the 2017 Note Race challenge I hear you cry! Well 3 is your magic number too. Because no matter what instrument you’ve chosen to learn for your Grade 1 exam, you’ll be expected to perform three pieces for your examiner on the day.

Each syllabus has its own requirements, so please make sure you are clear on what’s needed and check the current version for your instrument. Don't forget we also have a range of supporting materials in our shop that will help you prepare.

Visit the Trinity Online Shop for Grade 1 Books

As a quick guide for you, here's a summary of what you should be aware of when choosing pieces for Trinity's Classical & Jazz or Rock & Pop Grade 1 music exams.

Choose the right pieces for your Grade 1 exam

Classical & Jazz Exams

Brass Instruments
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 2 pieces from Group A (accompanied)
• 1 piece from Group B (unaccompanied)

Stringed Instruments
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 1 piece from Group A
• 1 piece from Group B
• 1 piece you can choose from Group A or B

Harps
• Any 3 pieces from the Grade 1 list 

Woodwind Instruments
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 2 pieces from Group A (accompanied)
• 1 piece from Group B (unaccompanied)

Jazz Woodwind Instruments
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 2 pieces from Group A (accompanied)
• 1 piece from Group B (unaccompanied)

1 or 2 of the pieces played must include improvisation. Look out for the pieces marked with an asterisk (*) in your list.

Classical Guitar
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 1 pieces from Group A
• 1 piece from Group B
• 1 piece you can choose from Group A or B

Up to 2 of the pieces played may be performed as a duet.

Drum Kit
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 2 pieces from Group A (accompanied by a CD backing track)
• 1 piece from Group B (unaccompanied)

Orchestral Percussion
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 3 pieces from the Grade 1 groups made up of:

  • 1 piece - tuned percussion
  • 1 piece - timpani
  • 1 piece - snare drum

Please note that the pieces you choose must not be taken from any study lists.

Tuned Percussion
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 2 pieces from the Grade 1 list
• 1 study

At least 1 accompanied piece must be performed. Pieces published with an accompaniment are indicated with an asterisk (*). Pieces published with an accompaniment must not be played unaccompanied.

Rock & Pop Exams
Download the syllabus (PDF)

You must play:
• 1 song from the relevant Grade 1 songbook with backing track
• 1 song of your choice from the relevant Grade 1 songbook, from trintyrock.com OR pick one of your own.

It could be:

  • sheet music from a printed or online source
  • an original song written by you
  • a cover version – a song that you’ve arranged
If you do decide to select a song of your own you must make sure it still demonstrates the technical skills relevant for Grade 1.

• 1 song from the two technical focus songs in the Grade 1 book (indicated with a (TF) in the syllabus). More marks are awarded in your exam for the technical focus song.

Check out the Choosing Songs page for more support.

 

So now you know what you'll need to play and where you can find your choice of pieces/songs to play on the big day. Why not start practising a few and see what works best for you?

Share your thoughts below on what you think you will play and why you chose it.