Recently I achieved distinction in my Grade 4 Rock Guitar examination with the London College of Music Examination (LCME). I decided to take the recorded examinations which meant that I had to record each part of the exam and then send it to LCME. For this exam I had to: play 2 pieces of rock music that were of grade 4 standard, and improvise over 2 backing tracks.
For the grade 4 song pieces I used a backing track and then played over the top the lead part. For the improvisation part I used 2 example chord progressions that were in the LCME Rock Guitar Grade 4 book. I then played these chords, using the given strumming pattern, and then I used the scale shape that fit with the key in which the chords were in, to play a solo that you have to make up on the spot.
In preparation for the improvisation part, I learnt multiple different techniques which can be used in any shape, for example, playing 3 notes in the scale, then moving back one note, and playing another 3, and so on. These techniques can then be used whenever and wherever, you just have to time it right, rhythmically, with the strumming pattern that is being played.
I think that doing any level of music exam is a great experience to improve as a player. It takes time and effort, but it is all worth it because you learn great skills!
Susie, Upper IV