Grade 5 Piano Exam

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

Ofqual Accredited (EQF Level 3) Award £63.00 GBP

GCSE Grades A*-C equivalent

Rockschool equivalent costs £91.00 GBP (£28.00 saving)

Grade 5 Popular Piano Exam

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Grade 5 Popular Piano Songs

For this exam you need to play four pieces

At this level, there’s a minimum of 1 verse, 1 chorus & a creative final section.

The creative final section might include: melodic embellishments, licks or harmonic development.

  • One Traditional Rock & Pop piece from the syllabus list,
  • Two pieces from after 2000 from the syllabus list,
  • One of your choice.
Video Game and Movie themes are also included.
Songs should be performed in their original keys.
Candidates may embellish their pieces as they choose.
Piano Syllabus

Own Choice

Own choice pieces should be of a similar level of difficult. The Grade Parameters can be found below. It's not expected that your piece will meet every aspect within the table, but it serves as a general guide as to the standard required.

Trad Rock & Pop Playlist

2000 Onwards Playlist

How to choose your Own Choice Piece

Grade 5 Pop Piano Syllabus

How Your Pieces are Marked

Learn piano, refine & shine

Excel with Our
Celebrity Grade 5
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, 4/4 and 6/8 with tracks created by our Masterclass Tutors Marcus Brown (Madonna and more) and Nicky Brown (legendary producer & BBC).

  • 4/4 Rock
  • 3/4 Time
  • 6/8 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.  At Grade 2, A and Eb Majors are added, along with relative minor keys too.

At Grade 3 and Grade 4, E and Ab Majors are added, along with their relative minors.  These tracks have been created exclusively by Andrew Sparham, our Guitar Tutor.

At Grade 5, songs should be performed in their original keys.

At Grade 5, blues embellishments are very much encouraged and so we now have a different style backing track: blues/country.  The mixolydian combined with blues scales will work well over this and these scales form the basis to many blues, rock & country guitar solos.

This pack also includes a step-by-step phrase structure Blues Scale tutorial backing track from the Richard Michael BEM course.

Interactive step-by-step tracks in C, F, G, D, A E, Bb, Eb, and Ab 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, A, E, Bb, Eb and Ab Majors (plus Mixolydian, and relative natural minors and harmonic minor in Am, Dm, Em, Bm, F#m, Gm, Cm, C#m and Fm) 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)
  • Reggae (harmonic minor)
  • Funk (natural minor)
  • Blues/Country (mixolydian/blues)

Pentatonic and Major are very common in pop songs.
Mixolydian is really common in rock guitar solos.

Natural minor is also particular common in guitar solos.
Blues scale is used to create inflexions in many blues and gospel solos.

Free Piano Courses
Song Style Backing Tracks

Song Style Backing Tracks 

These are chord progression tracks inspired by songs from the Grade 5 syllabus to help develop your improvisation. 

  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Living On a Prayer
  • Great Balls of Fire
  • Final Countdown
  • Cake by the Ocean
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 5 tracks by international level pianists include:

  • Move to the Groove (Richard Michael BEM)
  • 1 Note Improv 
  • 1 Chord Improv
  • Establishing 4/4 time (Nicky Brown, Legendary Producer)
  • Beats 1 & 3 (Nicky Brown)
  • The 3 Note Groove (Richard Michael BEM)
  • What Goes Up Must Go Down (Richard Michael BEM)
  • Shift the Lick (Richard Michael BEM)
  • Same Progression, Different Grooves (Nicky Brown)
  • Rhythm as Your Hook (Nicky Brown)
  • I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” short improv tutorial tracks on combining different layers of a band to form piano textures from the Richard Michael BEM piano masterclasses
  • Another Brick” short improv tutorial tracks on combining different layers of a band to form piano textures from the Richard Michael BEM piano masterclasses
  • American Boy” short improv tutorial tracks on combining different layers of a band to form piano textures from the Richard Michael BEM piano masterclasses
  • Say a Little Prayer” improv (Nicky Brown)
  • Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore” piano masterclass demo (Marcus Brown, who has played keys & created piano tracks for James Morrison)
  • Gimme Gimme” piano masterclass demo (Marcus Brown)
  • Hung Up” piano masterclass (Marcus Brown, Madonna’s Keyboard Player including illustration on how this song is based on Gimme Gimme by Abba)

£29.99 GBP one-off payment

All Grade 5 Toolkit Areas

£29.99 pcm including 

All Courses & Masterclasses

Self-Study piano curriculum

Pop Piano Courses & 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 5 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

At Grade 5, The Walking Bass and blues notes will occur more often. There will be more rapidly changing RH chords, blues notes and 7th chords. Frequently there will be a more demanding bass riff that needs to be maintained accurately whilst the RH plays the tune.

Both choruses and verses need to be performed in each song and any middle 8s/bridges must also be included; multiple verses/choruses may be necessary to ensure that pieces stay within the grade duration length specified. 

Candidates are encouraged to create their own introductions and endings as well as embellishing the piece in order to gain extra marks. Improvisation or stylisation of sections is strongly encouraged. Blues elements might feature such as blues note embellishments or LH patterns adapted from blues pieces.

Seventh chords will occur with greater frequency. Candidates are welcome to add notes to create added 6th chords and 7th chords where they don’t exist in original pieces as part of developing their own style; these will support blues stylisation.

Blues notes will occur more often as melodic embellishments or in the original piece. Blues licks may be introduced by candidates as part of their stylisation.

Songs should be performed in their original keys.

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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