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Guitar Exams (need some clarification)

New Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 1
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I've recently been taking guitar lessons, and soon i'll be moving onto graded exams as the teacher told me.

May I know what kind of exams should I be taking? Like should I be taking acoustic guitar exam or classical? And also which examination board would be the most suitable for me?

My purpose of learning the guitar is mostly to accompany myself singing but I do not mind having additional skills on the guitar too.

Thanks a lot. Much appreciated.

Member Moderator
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5366

Well, the big question is how have you been learning?

There are Grades for Classical Guitar - my top-flight students take London College of Music Classical Guitar Grade Exams, and there are other UK examining boards offering classical guitar grade exams - the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity Guildhall in the UK and others globally such as the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. LCM and ABRSM both have global operations. There are 8 Grades and a series of Diplomas, Associateships and Fellowships for those who want to progress beyond Grade 8.

In the UK we have Trinity Rock (from Trinity Guildhall) - rock and pop guitar exams up to Grade 8. These are really good, using material you hear on the radio.

The Registry of Guitar tutors in the UK has Grade Exams for Acoustic, Electric and Rock Guitar. RGT is now part of LCM and the exams are good.

Finally we have Rockschool - they were decidedly ordinary and then they lost their Trinity College validation. They responded really well; Rockschool Acoustic uses a lot of modern music including Metallica (Nothing Else Matters at Grade 4) and Dire Straits (Brothers In Arms at Grade 5) arranged for solo guitar.

LCM, ABRSM and Trinity require you to be able to read music. RGT, Trinity Rock and Rockschool include tablature in their books, which makes them popular with tutors who know the songs but can't read the dots.

Targets? Grade 4 at age 11 seems to be a common aim. I've had students achieve Grades 1 and 2 Classical Guitar by age 11, and my leading student is 13 - she has Grade 5s in Piano, Saxophone and Music Theory, and is working towards Grade 3 Classical Guitar.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

New Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 4


I'm Grade 8 classical guitar, self taught electric (play professionally in a function band), I teach the rockschool grades and classical grades, and I play acoustic guitar in a professional duo. If you are creative and have a good ear for music and just want to accompany yourself while singing then I'd suggest that maybe you shouldn't take any exams at all. The rockschool acoustic syllabus will make you learn very specific and sometimes quite mechanical versions of a few songs, but if you go to your teacher with the actual songs you want to play and sing along with then that will be a much better syllabus for you - far more rewarding - though it assumes your teacher can handle this approach - some teachers like to stick to rigid Trinity/Rockschool/ABRSM progress so that pupil and for kids, their parents, can see progress. Let your own creativity drive you but work with a teacher to help you avoid bad mistakes in technique or help you get there quicker. Just my two cents :-)

Dave C
LeFunk! Wedding and Function Band