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Guitar 4 Guitar

Guitar Grade 4 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Guitar Grade 4 (from 2019)

Guitar requirements and information

Our Guitar requirements and information summarise the most important points that teachers and candidates need to know when taking ABRSM graded Guitar exams.

They are detailed in the exam sections below (Pieces, Scales and arpeggios, Sight-reading and Aural tests) immediately after the grade-specific requirements, and are available to download as a PDF.

Further exam details and administrative information are given in our Information & Regulations, which you should read before booking an exam.

Eligibility

There are eight grades of exam for Guitar and candidates may be entered for any grade irrespective of age and without previously having taken any other grade in Guitar. Candidates for a Grade 6, 7 or 8 exam must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz instrument. For full details, including a list of accepted alternatives, see Prerequisite for Grades 6-8.

Instruments

This syllabus is only appropriate for the standard classical instrument fitted with nylon strings (guitars with a cutaway body are permitted). Candidates may choose to use a capo at the 2nd or 3rd fret for the pieces in Grades 7 and 8 that have an optional F# tuning; no other use of the capo is permitted unless specified by the composer.

In the exam

Examiners: Generally, there will be one examiner in the exam room; however, for training and quality assurance purposes, a second examiner may sometimes be present. Examiners may ask to look at the music before or after the performance of a piece (a separate copy is not required – the candidate’s copy will suffice). Examiners may stop the performance of a piece when they have heard enough to form a judgment. They will not issue or discuss a candidate’s result. Instead, the mark form (and certificate for successful candidates) will be issued by ABRSM after the exam.

Order of the exam: The individual sections of the exam may be taken in any order, at the candidate’s choice, although it is preferable for accompanied pieces to be performed consecutively and at the beginning of the exam. For more information on accompanied pieces, see ‘Guitar requirements and information: Pieces’ in the ‘Pieces’ section below.

Tuning: The guitar should be tuned before entering the exam room, but in cases at Grades 1–5 where the candidate is playing with a piano accompaniment the teacher or accompanist may tune the candidate’s instrument to the piano (or advise on tuning) before the exam begins. In Grades 6–8, candidates must tune their instrument themselves. Examiners are unable to help with tuning.

Footstools: Candidates should provide their own footstool (or other form of guitar support) if required.

Music stands: All ABRSM public venues provide a music stand, but candidates are welcome to bring their own if they prefer. The examiner will be happy to help adjust the height or position of the stand.

Further information

Pieces

Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each. Candidates may perform one of their three pieces accompanied by another guitar where indicated with a * in the Lists.

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Handel
arr. Wright
Sonata for a Musical Clock
HWV 598
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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2 Trad. Spiritual
arr. Mermikides
Down to the River to Pray
(glissandi optional)
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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3* attrib. el Sabio
arr. Goss
Cantiga
No. 166 from Cantigas de Santa Maria
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

More details
4 Anon.
arr. Scheit
Allemande in A minor
No. 1 from Renaissance Dances, arr. Scheit
Universal (UE13070)

More details
5 Anon.
arr. Scheit
Balletto in D
No. 4 from Renaissance Dances, arr. Scheit
Universal (UE13070)

More details
6 J. S. Bach
arr. Wright
Gavotte
6th movt from Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012
(observing repeat)
No. 21 from The Baroque Book
Chanterelle (ECH2111)

More details
7 Jelínek
arr. Wright
Bourrée
No. 9 from The Baroque Book
Chanterelle (ECH2111)

More details
8* Purcell
arr. Wright
Rondeau
from Abdelazar
No. 17 from One + One, Vol. 3: pupil's part
Chanterelle (ECH2206)

More details
No. 17 from One + One, Vol. 3: teacher's score
Chanterelle (ECH2205)

More details
9 Rameau
arr. Yates
Tambourin
from Pièces de clavecin
Graded Repertoire for Guitar, Book 1
Mel Bay (MLB99630M)

More details
10 attrib. T. Smyth
arr. Dodds
Galliard
10 English Pieces
Capriol

More details

List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 N. Paganini Allegretto
from Sonata in F, M.S. 84 No. 6
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

More details
2 Smetana
arr. Ryan
Vltava
from Má vlast
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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3* N. Coste
arr. Wright
Rondeau
No. 6 from Récréation du guitariste, Op. 51
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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4 Carcassi Pastorale
No. 16 from 24 petites pièces, Op. 21
Time Pieces for Guitar, Vol. 2
ABRSM

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5* Granados
arr. Batchelar and Wright
Vals poético No. 1
Time Pieces for Guitar, Vol. 2
ABRSM

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6 Horetzky Andantino in A minor
The Guitarist's Hour, Vol. 1
Schott (GA 19)

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7 Mertz Romance (Adagio)
No. 9 from Schule für die Guitare
Classical Music for Children for Guitar
Schott (ED 21908)

More details
Graded Repertoire for Guitar, Book 1
Mel Bay (MLB99630M)

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P. 12 from The Guitarist's Progress, Book 2
Garden Music (GM2)

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8 J. Ferrer Vals in E minor
No. 11 from Colección 3a de ejercicios
The Guitarist's Progress, Book 2
Garden Music (GM2)

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9 Shand Valse in G
from Improved Method for the Guitar, Op. 100
Graded Repertoire for Guitar, Book 2
Mel Bay (MLB20038)

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10 Sor Petite pièce in D
No. 14 from 24 petites pièces progressives, Op. 44
No. 15 from The Classical Book
Chanterelle (ECH2112)

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Sor: The Complete Studies
Chanterelle (ECH0491)

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Sor: The Complete Studies, Lessons, and Exercises
Tecla Editions (101)

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List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Panteleimon Michaeloudis Nightfall
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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2 Peter Wrieden Stomping the Blues
No. 6 from Nine Ladies Dancing
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

More details
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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3* C. Porter
arr. James
Anything Goes
from Anything Goes
Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book only)
ABRSM

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Guitar Exam Pieces from 2019, Grade 4 (book & CD)
ABRSM

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4 Leo Brouwer Étude No. 8
from Études simples
Leo Brouwer: Études simples, Vol. 2
Eschig (ME 00799800)

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Leo Brouwer: Œuvres pour guitare
Eschig (DF 01574200)

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5 David Cottam Amontillado
Zebramusic, arr. Cottam
ESG Music

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6 Colin Downs I Spy
Time Pieces for Guitar, Vol. 2
ABRSM

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7 Mirosław Drożdżowski Milonga at Sunset
No. 11 from All Year Round with the Guitar
No. 11 from Mirosław Drożdżowski: All Year Round with the Guitar
Euterpe (EU 1003)

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8 Vincent Lindsey-Clark Steely Blue
from Simply Swing
Vincent Lindsey-Clark: Simply Swing
Montague Music (MM122)

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9* Trad. Argentinian
arr. Rivoal
Bailecito
Chansons et danses d'Amérique latine, Vol. A, arr. Rivoal
Lemoine (25161)

More details
10 Stanley Yates E-Jam Blues
Graded Repertoire for Guitar, Book 2
Mel Bay (MLB20038)

More details

Guitar requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C) in each grade (see also 'Accompaniment' below). In the exam, they should inform the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form (PDF) for this purpose.

Every effort has been made to ensure the syllabus lists feature a broad range of repertoire, with items to suit and appeal to candidates of differing ages, backgrounds and interests. Not every piece will be suitable for every candidate due to technical reasons (e.g. hand size) or wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.).

It is advised that pieces selected are considered carefully for their appropriateness to each individual, which may require consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Given the ever-changing nature of the digital world, teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research items online (see nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety).

Accompaniment: In Grades 1–3, candidates may perform up to two pieces accompanied by another guitar (or, if necessary, a piano); in Grades 4 and 5, only one such piece may be performed. In Grade 8, candidates may perform one piece accompanied by piano.

Accompanied pieces are marked with a * in the piece listings above. None of the pieces marked with a * in Grades 1–5 or in Grade 8 may be performed solo. All other pieces must be performed solo.

Candidates must provide their own accompanist, who may remain in the exam room only while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may act as accompanist (examiners will not). If necessary, the accompanist may simplify any part of the accompaniment, provided the result is musically satisfactory. Recorded accompaniments are not allowed.

Exam music and editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription, the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam; in all such cases the abbreviation ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ appears in the syllabus entry. For all other pieces, the editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). See information about obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments, etc. need not be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are always encouraged to interpret the score in a stylistically appropriate manner. Ultimately, examiners’ marking will be determined by consideration of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance, and how control of these contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Repeats: All da capo and dal segno indications should be observed but all other repeats (including first-time bars) should be omitted unless they are very brief (i.e. of a few bars) or unless the syllabus specifies otherwise.

Performing from memory: Candidates are free to perform any of their pieces from memory; in such cases they must ensure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to if necessary. No additional marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. A variety of solutions for awkward page-turns exist, including the use of an additional copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below). In cases where candidates at Grades 6–8 believe there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn, they may bring a page-turner to the exam (prior permission is not required; the turner may be a candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission received should be brought to the exam.

Scales and arpeggios

21 marks

Scales

B♭ major

B minor melodic

2 octaves

fingers only; tirando or apoyando, at candidate's choice; long tonic

F major

F# minor harmonic

2 octaves

thumb and fingers combined†; tirando; long tonic

Chromatic scale

starting on G

2 octaves

thumb and fingers combined†; tirando

Interval scales

G major, in tenths

A minor harmonic, in sixths

1 octave

together or broken, as chosen by the examiner; tirando

Broken chord

C major

1 octave

tirando; with over-ringing

Arpeggios

F, B♭ majors

B, F# minors

2 octaves

tirando; without over-ringing

Dominant seventh

in the key of G
(resolving on tonic)

1 octave

tirando; without over-ringing

† thumb for lower octave, fingers for upper octave

Scale speeds

The scale speeds in the section below are given as a general guide.

Scales

Crotchet and quavers

Crotchet

Chromatic scale

Four quavers

Crotchet

Interval scales (together/broken)

Crotchet

Broken chord

Three quavers

Dotted crotchet

Arpeggios

Three quavers

Dotted crotchet

Dominant seventh

Four quavers

Crotchet

 


Guitar requirements and information: Scales and arpeggios

Examiners will usually ask for at least one of each type of scale/arpeggio etc. required at each grade and will ask for majors followed by minors within each type. In the Grade 5–8 fingers-only scales, they will also ask to hear a balance of the specified strokes. When asking for requirements, examiners will specify:

  • The key (including minor form – harmonic or melodic – in the Grade 6–8 scales) or the starting note
  • The stroke for fingers-only scales (tirando or apoyando), Grades 5–8
  • The form for interval scales (together or broken)

All scales and arpeggios should:

  • Be played from memory
  • Be played in even notes (except where indicated at Grades 1–5)
  • Be played from the lowest possible tonic/starting note unless the syllabus indicates otherwise
  • Ascend and descend according to the specified range (and pattern)
  • Be played legato

In Grades 1–4, candidates may choose to play ‘fingers-only’ scales either tirando (free stroke) or apoyando (rest stroke); from Grade 5, these scales must be prepared with both right-hand techniques. The tirando stroke is expected for all other requirements.

Any combination of alternating right-hand fingers may be used for ‘fingers-only’ scales. Any left-hand fingering may be used, but candidates are expected to observe the requirements regarding over-ringing and non-over-ringing for broken chords and arpeggios from Grade 3.

Arpeggios and dominant sevenths are required in root position only. Scales in thirds and tenths should begin with the tonic as the lower note, while scales in sixths should begin with the tonic as the upper note.

Download scale and arpeggio patterns (PDF).

Purchase Guitar Scales and Arpeggios, Grades 1–5.

Sight-reading

21 marks

Guitar requirements and information: Sight-reading

Candidates will be asked to play a short unaccompanied piece of music which they have not previously seen. They will be given half a minute in which to look through and, if they wish, try out all or any part of the test before they are required to play it for assessment. The table below shows the introduction of elements at each grade. Please note that these parameters are presented cumulatively, i.e. once introduced they apply for all subsequent grades (albeit within a logical progression of difficulty).

Grade

Length (bars)

Time

Keys

Other features that may be included

Grade 1

4

4/4
3/4

C, G, F majors

A, E minors

  • note values: dotted minim, minim, crotchet, two quavers beamed together
  • crotchet rests
  • 1st position
  • accidentals (within minor keys only)
  • single-line texture
  • passages for thumb alone
  • f and p dynamic marks
  • cresc. and dim. hairpins

6

2/4

(as above)

(as above)

Grade 2

D minor

  • four quavers beamed together and dotted crotchet, quaver patterns
  • staccato
  • mp and mf dynamic marks

Grade 3

up to 8

3/8

D major

  • quaver rests
  • 2nd position
  • integration of thumb and fingers into simple broken-chord patterns
  • accents
  • slurs
  • pp dynamic mark

Grade 4

c. 8

6/8

A major

  • simple semiquaver patterns
  • tied notes
  • chromatic notes
  • simple two-part writing (mostly open strings in one or other voice)
  • pause sign
  • tenuto

For practice purposes, a book of sample sight-reading tests is published for Guitar by ABRSM.

Purchase Guitar Specimen Sight-Reading Tests, Grades 1–8.

Aural tests

18 marks

  1. To sing or play from memory a melody played twice by the examiner: The melody will be within the range of an octave, in a major or minor key with up to three sharps or flats. First the examiner will play the key-chord and the starting note and then count in two bars. (If the candidate chooses to play, the examiner will also name the key-chord and the starting note, as appropriate for the instrument.) If necessary, the examiner will play the melody again and allow a second attempt (although this will affect the assessment).
  2. To sing five notes from score in free time: The candidate may choose to sing from treble or bass clef. The notes will be within the range of a third above and below the tonic in the key of C, F or G major. The test will begin and end on the tonic and will not contain intervals greater than a third. First the examiner will name and play the key-chord and the starting note. If necessary, the examiner will help the candidate by playing and identifying the correct note if any note is sung at the wrong pitch.
  3. (i) To answer questions about two features of a piece played by the examiner: Before playing, the examiner will tell the candidate which two features the questions will be about. The first will be one of the following: dynamics, articulation, tempo, tonality; the second will be character.

    (ii) To clap the rhythm of the notes in an extract from the same piece, and to identify whether it is in two time, three time or four time: The examiner will play the extract twice (unharmonised), after which the candidate should clap back the rhythm. The examiner will then ask whether the music is in two time, three time or four time. The candidate is not required to state the time signature.

 


Guitar requirements and information: Aural tests

Listening lies at the heart of all good music-making. Developing aural awareness is fundamental to musical training because having a ‘musical ear’ impacts on all aspects of musicianship. Singing, both silently in the head and out loud, is one of the best ways to develop the ‘musical ear’. It connects the internal imagining of sound, the ‘inner ear’, with the external creation of it, without the necessity of mechanically having to ‘find the note’ on an instrument (important though that connection is). By integrating aural activities in imaginative ways in the lesson, preparation for the aural tests within an exam will be a natural extension of what is already an essential part of the learning experience.

In the exam

Aural tests are an integral part of all Practical graded exams. The tests are administered by the examiner from the piano. For any test that requires a sung response, pitch rather than vocal quality is being assessed. The examiner will be happy to adapt to the vocal range of the candidate, whose responses may be sung to any vowel (or consonant followed by a vowel), hummed or whistled (and at a different octave, if appropriate).

Assessment

Some tests allow for a second attempt or for an additional playing by the examiner, if necessary. The examiner will also be ready to prompt, where helpful, although this may affect the assessment.

Marks are not awarded for each individual test or deducted for mistakes; instead they reflect the candidate’s overall response in this section. See marking criteria.

Specimen tests

Examples of the tests are given in Specimen Aural Tests and Aural Training in Practice (from 2011).

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates

Deaf or hearing-impaired candidates may choose alternative tests in place of the standard tests, if requested at the time of entry. See more information on alternative tests.

Guitar 4 Guitar

Guitar Grade 4 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Publications and audio

Supporting apps

Aural Trainer

An award-winning aural practice app from ABRSM – now available for Grades 1–8.

Speedshifter

Speedshifter allows you to alter the tempo of music without altering the pitch. Ideal for practising slowly!

Translations for this page are available in: English, 简体中文

 

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