Rockschool | Free Choice Pieces
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Free Choice Pieces

Find out everything you need to know about

Free Choice Pieces.

Free Choice Pieces

Play your favourite tunes in your exam

Free Choice Pieces can be used in all Rockschool Grade Examinations and Performance Certificates Grades Debut to Grade 8. There are no Free Choice Pieces for Premiere exams.

All backing tracks for Free Choice pieces should be brought to the exam on a USB stick and sheet music must be provided for the examiner.

You do not need to seek permission for your choice.  If your teacher deems it to be of the correct standard and the length is similar to the pieces in the Grade book, then you are welcome to perform it.


For all graded examinations and video graded certificates, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of two free choice pieces.

For all performance certificates (except Premiere), in addition to a minimum of two performance piece from the RSL grade book, candidates may choose to perform a maximum of three free choice pieces.

Other than during the current Covid-19 restrictions, free choice pieces must be in a modern popular genre such as Pop, Rock, Metal, Jazz, Country, Blues, Soul or Reggae.

The following will be accepted as suitable free choice pieces without prior checks:

  • Pieces from previous RSL syllabuses at the same (or higher) grade
    (Please note that candidates must provide sheet music for ALL previous RSL syllabuses: examiners will only have access to current syllabus material)
  • The following permissible interchangeable RSL instruments:
    – Current or (any) previous RSL syllabus Electric Guitar repertoire performed in Acoustic Guitar exams
    – Current or (any) previous RSL syllabus Acoustic Guitar repertoire performed in Electric Guitar exams
  • Vocal wider repertoire pieces
  • Pieces from other regulated music exam boards where accredited at the same (or higher) grade.

The following will be accepted as suitable free choice pieces if prior approval from RSL has been obtained (see below). Otherwise the examiner will make a judgement about the suitability of the piece in the exam:

  • RSL Grade book pieces in a different version
    (Note: excluding transposition of pieces in the RSL vocal grade books which are permitted without prior approval to suit a particular vocal range)
  • RSL Grade book piece performed with a different backing track
  • Original compositions
  • Any other piece or song

Please note that where an RSL Grade book piece is performed with no backing track where one is normally required (see ‘Backing Tracks’ below), this would not be pre-approved as a free choice piece, and therefore the technical outcomes / resulting marks will be affected in this case.

The following are Rockschool benchmarked repertoire and therefore permitted without prior approval and do not count as free choice pieces:

  • All current grade book repertoire
  • Rockschool Classics (previously known as Hot Rock)
  • Yamaha
  • Tom Gates
  • Rock & Pop Foundation
  • Current Male / Female vocal repertoire. These can be interchangeable.
  • Current Male / Female vocal repertoire transposed to suit vocal range. (All other aspects need to remain unchanged. NB. Backing tracks in the transposed key are required and to be sourced by the candidate.)

Backing Tracks:

  • For Ukulele, Acoustic, Piano & Keys: free choice pieces can be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track), or as a solo piece (without backing track).
  • For all other graded music syllabuses: All free choice pieces must be performed to a backing track (without the examined part on the track), except in cases where the piece has been selected from a previous Rockschool syllabus, and does not have a backing track provided.

Level of Demand:
Free choice pieces must demonstrate a comparable level of technical and musical demand to the pieces in the grade books, which can be referred to as an indication of appropriate level. Pieces should therefore be selected carefully to ensure that they provide suitable opportunity for candidates to demonstrate the necessary technical and musical competence for the grade. If a free choice piece does not meet these requirements this will impact on the level of achievement possible within the examination and will be reflected in the marks and comments.

Prior Approval
It is not a prerequisite to have free choice pieces approved by RSL HQ, but please feel free to e-mail us if you are unsure about the eligibility of your piece at A full reply will be given no later than 6 weeks after submission.

For information on free choice piece durations, please download the relevant document for your chosen syllabus from the links above.

Candidates are reminded that RSL examination regulations state that pieces must be performed to the exact requirements as detailed in the relevant syllabus guide. If a performance piece overruns, the examiner may halt the performance and only assess the material demonstrated until that point.

Sheet Music:
Free choice pieces must be available in fully notated sheet music. Candidates need to bring a copy of the sheet music for the examiner to refer to during the examination. It is acceptable for candidates to refer to their own duplicate copy during the performance. Candidates are reminded that both copies need to fully reflect the interpretation and intended performance of the piece. Examiners will retain all photocopied materials from the exam session.

If sheet music is not provided for a free choice piece this will be deemed a ‘partial submission’ and may be reflected in the marking and comments.

Inadmissible Pieces:
If more free choice pieces are presented than allowed (ie. a third free choice piece in a graded exam or video graded certificate, or a fourth / fifth free choice piece in a performance certificate), the additional pieces will be judged as inadmissible and will receive a mark of zero.


If you would like to perform one or more free choice pieces please follow the criteria in the guides below to ensure the piece you have chosen is suitable.

Acoustic Guitar FCP GuideElectric Guitar FCP GuideBass FCP GuideDrums FCP GuidePiano FCP GuideVocal FCP GuideUkulele FCP Guide
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