Grade 1 Piano Exam

Play rock & pop songs on the piano the way that you want to.

Ofqual Accredited (EQF Level 2) Award £40.00 GBP

GCSE Grades D-G Equivalent

Rockschool equivalent costs £58.00 GBP (£18.00 GBP saving)

Grade 1 Popular Piano Exam

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Grade 1 Popular Piano Songs

For this exam you need to play three pieces

  • One Traditional Rock & Pop from the syllabus list (one verse and chorus),
  • One from after 2000 from the syllabus list (one verse and chorus),
  • One of your choice.
Video Game and Movie themes are also included.
Songs can be transposed during the purchase process to utilise an appropriate key for this grade.
Candidates are welcome to improvise their own introductions and endings.  
They may also embellish the piece as they choose.

Trad Rock & Pop Playlist

2000 Onwards Playlist

How to choose your Own Choice Piece

Grade 1 Piano Pieces

How Your Pieces are Marked

Grade 1 Popular Piano Marking Objectives

Learn piano, refine & shine

Excel with Our
Celebrity Grade 1
Piano Practice Toolkit

We want all pianists who love popular music to progress and achieve and be recognised by offering access to high quality and affordable music exams with international level supporting materials on our innovative online platform.

In order to really succeed in piano exams, we need to practice.  Practising can seem boring, but NOT HERE!  Here you will find a range of resources that will help you become the pop musician that you’ve always wanted to be.  

Rhythm Tracks for your Piano Groove
Rhythm Tracks to Find Your Groove

Rhythm Backing Tracks 

Support your fluency, improvise in time in 3/4 and 4/4 with tracks created by our Masterclass Tutors Marcus Brown (Madonna and more) and Nicky Brown (legendary producer & BBC).

  • 4/4 Rock
  • 3/4 Time
  • New York Loop
  • Slow Funky Loop
  • Slow Drive Loop
  • Pop Loop
  • Detroit Loop
  • Ballad Loop
Bonus: Establishing 4 beats per bar Masterclass Lesson by Nicky Brown.
Piano Scales Step by Step
Learn Your Keys & Scales Step by Step

Scale & Key Fun

Scales are not a requirement in the exam, but they are great for understanding keys and improvisation.  We do them in a really fun way!

At Debut level C, F and G Majors were your priority.

At Grade 1 level, D and Bb Majors are also a key focus. 

These tracks have been created exclusively by Andrew Sparham, our Guitar Tutor.

The Maestro Online “We Will Rock You” scale method.

Interactive step-by-step tracks in C, F, G, D and Bb Majors helping you start with just one note per key, then 2 notes, “add it and nail it” without feeling overwhelmed.

Bonus Masterclass – Add it and Nail It method by Mick Donnelly (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Robbie Williams & more)

Multi-style backing tracks in C, F, G, D and Bb Majors (plus Mixolydian equivalents) in different styles to support your concept of key and improvisation.  There are also tracks with the bass removed so that you can develop your LH and RH separately:

  • Pop (Pentatonic/Major)
  • Soft Rock (Mixolydian)
Pentatonic and Major are very common in pop songs.
Mixolydian is really common in rock guitar solos.
Free Piano Courses
Song Style Backing Tracks

Song Style Backing Tracks 

These are inspired by songs from the Grade 1 syllabus to help develop your improvisation. 

  • We Will Rock You
  • Slim Shady
  • Shotgun
  • Friends
  • James Bond
  • Imagine 
These tracks have been created exclusively by Andrew Sparham, our Guitar Tutor.
Improv tips for the Pop Art improv
Pro Tips: Pop Art of Improv on the Piano

Exclusive Pro Tips

EXCLUSIVE Improvisation lessons, tips, tracks, teaching techniques from World-Class Masterclass Tutors, including pianists who played on some of the original pop songs, interesting anecdotes, professional piano player insights, and session musician perspectives.  For Grade 1 tracks by international level pianists include:

  • Move to the Groove
  • 1 Note Improv
  • 1 Chord Improv
  • Establishing 4/4 time
  • Beats 1 & 3
  • The 3 Note Groove
  • Short “Shotgun” lesson and improv from The Maestro Online piano courses
  • Fairy Tale of New York improvisation inspiration.

£29.99 GBP one-off payment

All Grade 1 Toolkit Areas

£29.99 pcm including 

All Courses & Masterclasses

self-Study piano curriculum

Pop Piano Courses & Celebrity Masterclasses

There’s a wide range of supporting resources on The Maestro Online platform to help you learn and polish your performances.

PIano grades Pop Songs

What to expect

Grade 1 Popular Piano Exam

 There is no requirement to play from the notation, but links are provided as an indication of the level of difficulty required. 

All Piano Students

Grade 1 pieces are mostly on the beat, with minimum syncopation. The LH will often involve a simple bass line or chords. The coordination between the hands will not be complex. The melodies will mostly be pentatonic and major. Players are encouraged to create their own introductions and endings as well as embellishing the piece in order to gain extra marks.

At least one main chorus and verse need to be performed; multiple verses are not necessary as candidates are encouraged to ensure that pieces stay within the grade duration length specified. 

Piano Students who Read Notation

Scores will typically include up to two sharps or flats in the key signature. Pieces will demonstrate a mixture of whole, half, quarter notes, eighth notes and equivalent rests, with occasional syncopation.

However, songs may be performed in any key and can be transposed during the purchase process to be appropriate for a learner at this grade.  

Piano Students who Play by Ear

There are many students who will find that notation is not for them. They may find it too difficult, be dyslexic or neurodivergent. That’s totally okay! The links to scores of pieces on the syllabus give you a good idea of the standard and technique required.

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Pop Piano Exam

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