Piano exams ... grades - Who does piano exams?ameb,royal conser,

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Postby Tarnia » Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:14 pm

I do RCM as well...I live in Ontario, Canada.

You can skip SOME grades in RCM. I do piano, so I will speak only for that. You can skip up to gr. 10, BUT you must make a certain requirement (75% overall or 70% in each of studies/technique, repertoire, ear, sight) in gr. 10 in order to go on and take ARCT (associate of the royal conservatory of toronto) teachers or ARCT performers. (I know b/c I didn't make the requirement :( ) Prior to that, there is NO requirement for taking a previous exam...for example the first exam I took was my gr. 3, and my classmate took gr.8, skipped gr 9, took gr. 10 and is now in ARCT. I think if you want to go on to ARCT you also have to do a Bach prelude/fugue in gr. 10.

In addition, starting at I think gr.5 there is a theory corequisite. So to receive a certificate that you have in fact completed gr. 5 or above, you must complete the theory coreq. i.e. in Gr. 5 I think it is preliminary Rudiments)

Hope that helps!
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:40 pm

Yes, it does help. Actually, since I already have a teaching degree from years back when, I might even be interested in the ARCT at some point. I love one-on-one teaching and I love music. I've just finished the intermediate rudiments theory exam and will be doing the advanced in Dec. I've only done one instrumental exam, which was grade 1. I'm wondering whether it would be wise to take an exam one grade below my current level in order to get experience in exams first.

Do you have a chance to do your exams again in order to get in?
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Postby Tranquillo » Sat Sep 22, 2007 4:05 am

Oh thats interesting ... Its similar with AMEB you have to do grade 8 before doing A Mus (Associate diploma music) and you have to pass with at least a credit.
Thing is we have from peliminary to 8 before diploma it seems that you have to grade 10.
Here it is a grade per year on average without skipping is it the same with RCM?
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Postby Tarnia » Sat Sep 22, 2007 11:05 am

Yes, you can repeat your exam. I don't know exactly how it works, as I have never had to do it...though I guess if I want to do ARCT, I'll be finding out :( :p

Personally, I would recommend doing a grade before. It is recognized that the technical req for gr. 10 in RCM are quite difficult, and apparently come March they will be totally revamping it...adding some stuff in at lower grades but also decreasing required speeds etc. for gr. 10. So maybe I'll wait til then :p So I would maybe do gr. 9, just to get a feel. Hard to say. Again, you MUST take your gr. 10 exam and get a certain mark to do your ARCT. There are two classes of ARCT-teacher's and performers-but that is probably too complicated to get into here:p I'm not entirely clear on it myself:p Just that performers is much harder and requires technique among other things, while teacher's doesn't.

For ARCT, you must also have harmony, counterpoint and history (gr 5, gr.4, gr 5 I think but can't remember). I think to qualify to do ARCT, you need gr. 4 harmony and history, then you would do the rest along with but not sure-really just been focusing on my practical. BUT, you MUST complete all requirements within 5 years of your last exam...so for example, I took my gr. 10 exam in August, assuming I had the gr.9 theory corequisite, I would have until August 2012 to complete my theory-after that, you get to retake it ALL. Say I only had gr 8 theory corequisite, I would have 5 years from taking my gr. 9 exam to complete theory...etc. I am not sure if the reverse is true...practical within 5 years of doing your theory, so in your case Pianissimo, you might want to look into that. I hope I have made sense? I believe the premise behind it is if you wait too long, you may have lost some skill/knowledge and therefore NOT be an ideal candidate.

Becibu, I have tried to do 1 grade per year as my personal goal, though that went right out the window with gr. 10...took me 4 years as I was doing it while in university for a BSc :p I am not sure about a general standard, but I wouldn't be surprised. Here we have 3 exam sessions: June, August and Dec. My understanding is that it IS common to take a little longer for gr. 10, and especially ARCT.
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Postby Tarnia » Sat Sep 22, 2007 11:19 am

Oh and as to the earlier discussion about private lessons vs. music classes in school, on the RCM website (I am talking for RCM Canada here...it says it is also available in the States and Korea but I think that is it) there is a page that addresses this. For example in Ontario:

gr.7 practical and gr. 1 theory (intermediate theory) -->gr. 7 certificate-->gr. 11 arts credit

gr. 8 practical & gr.2 theory (advanced theory now I think it is called) --->gr. 8 certificate --> equivalent to gr. 12 arts credit

I took more languages and less arts in high school, so I used this option to get the requisite arts credit to graduate.

And here is what I was talking about, pianissimo:
"Candidates working towards the Grade 10 certificate or ARCT diploma must complete their theory co-requisites before or within 5 years of their practical examination"

Also saw this:
"Candidates for practical ARCT diplomas who hold degrees or diplomas from other music institutions may be exempted from RCM Theory examinations by writing the Comprehensive Theory Examination (for detailed information on this examination, please consult the Theory Syllabus, 2002 edition)."
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Postby Tarnia » Sat Sep 22, 2007 11:30 am

pianissimo wrote:
There are already huge leaps in what is required technically between certain grades so I don't know if revamping the syllabus will address this or not.
Do you mean there are leaps in the technical requirements that existed before, and the ones that exist now? Or between the grades, period? I am going back to doing technical exams after a break of several years so this interests me. I bought the syllabus, but it's violin, not piano, so that doesn't help here.

Can't answer for this poster, but I can take a guess:

There is quite a leap in the degree of difficulty required for technique in gr. 4 and what is required in gr. 5. I don't remember exactly, b/c it was a LONG time ago for me (like 8 years or something) but in addition to upping the speeds, adding one or two more keys, etc; I seem to remember everything having to suddenly be hands together, a larger increase in speed, more keys, and I think they add arpeggios and a few other things, ALL AT ONCE. As I said, I am pulling the SPECIFICS off the top of my head, but hopefully you get the idea.

I actually talked with my teacher about this today, and it sounds like the plan is to NOT have such a dramatic change in gr. 5 but instead add a little bit more to the previous grades, so it isn't so sudden. It is also recognized that the technical requirements for gr. 10 are very difficult-you are responsible for scales, scales separated by 3rd and 6th, chords-broken, solid and alternate note (play 1-5-3-1 instead of 1-3-5-1 or c, g,e,c instead of cegc), dominant/diminished 7th chords same, arpeggios-major, minor, dom, dim, chromatic, formula pattern major and harmonic minor, octave scales major, minor and chromatic...I think that is everything, and at quite a high speed. So I ALSO heard that there is a plan to modify that...I was told by not requiring as high a speed but wasn't at the workshop myself.
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:27 am

Thanks for all the information, Tarnia! I have a much more clear picture.
I think I will discuss the idea wtih my teacher of doing the lower grade practical exam first to get my feet wet.
Theory has gone at a clip: I started the Wharram book this spring and did the grade 2 exam in the summer with a good grade, and will do grade 3 in December. I am getting into harmony but want to take it more slowly and thoroughly. I have a question about books in regards to harmony. For rudimentary the Barbara Wharram is enough. I bought the practice exams for harmony when I got the others so I can see what they are examining. I'm studying harmony through an old fashioned book which is very thorough, gets you to hear the notes in your head before even committing them to paper. But it teaches only harmony: the chords, cadences etc. The exam, I noticed, also asks for music to be categorized, tempo to be surmised, and that is not in my little green book. Are there books more specific to the RCM exam that I can use as a supplement?

I hope I'm not asking too many questions.
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Postby Tarnia » Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:43 pm

No such thing as too many questions:p Least not on a msg board when I can choose if/when I answer them :D

Anyways, I am *VERY* behind on my theory, so perhaps not the best person to ask about theory. Having said that, the two harmony teachers I have had recommended two different books :p (OF course). I will write both down and you can have a look/ask around some more.

Harmony: A Revised Approach Part 1 by Barbara Mackin

History of Western Music Part 1 William Andrews and Molly Sclater.

I think in the syllabus or somewhere the requirements are listed, so you could also check those and compare to various books. As I said, those are the ones I used. I found the first to be slightly simpler, but couldn't really say which is 'better'.

Good luck!
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 3:26 pm

Oh thanks! I've already written that down. So, you had separate harmony teachers? Is that in school or privately?

I'm using "The Basis of Harmony" by F. Horwood, written in 1948. I asked at the music store for something that was extremely thorough and he handed me that book, plus a pad of staff paper. The first chapter is one page long, there are only 6 questions, and you end up filling 3 sheets of staff paper by the time you're done: every possible version of a chord in a scale of a given degree respecting the range of voices. He also wants the student to train herself to hear the chord in her mind as she writes it down by singing it. Then you check with the piano (no computers in 1948). The older teachers get nostalgic and say, "That's how I used to do it. Nobody wants to do that anymore." I'm just starting cadences in the 3rd chapter, and by now I know my chords inside out.
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Postby Tarnia » Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:04 pm

Privately :p My piano teacher doesn't teach theory after rudiments, which I only found out after doing rudiments :p What with graduating from high school and starting university, finding a separate harmony teacher took a back seat to school, travelling home every weekend for piano lessons (didn't want to change teachers), etc etc. As a result my theory education has been rather sporadic :p Something that is hopefully about to be rectified-I have sent in a registration form for private theory lessons at the RCM starting asap :)
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:37 pm

I have sent in a registration form for private theory lessons at the RCM


Oh, I didn't know they do that! That sounds fantastic for you.
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Postby Tarnia » Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:24 pm

Yes the Conservatory does all sorts of lessons, I think primarily at their Toronto central or Mississaugua locations. I'm sorry, I don't know/remember where you are located so not sure if this helps. However I have found them in the past to be quite helpful, if busy; if you need more info on lessons or something I'm sure you could contact them. The general website is www.rcmusic.ca

I got a call back Monday night and now definitely have lessons :)
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:51 pm

Congratulations on the lessons. So they're not correspondence I take it from what you wrote. No I'm a few hundred km east. Anyway, I'm learning a lot at this point with my regular teacher so I'm fine. But it's good to know that there are resources in case they're needed. Thanks.
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Postby Tranquillo » Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:44 pm

Thought I'd extend this out to exam experiences. Just had one a month ago and I packed on the nerves! When it was my turn the examiner was calling out my name a few times when she turned around I looked at her and said 'I'm here'. heheheh ... Playing at the exam was ok ... it felt awkard seeing her reflection in the piano whist I was playing ... argh ... by the way what do you do when you are waiting in the waiting room? I close my eyes and rock myself on the wall ... doesnt do anything really...
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Postby 112-1182392787 » Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:50 pm

What's it like playing a strange piano? I can't remember much what I did before my own exam. But I do have a vivid recollection of the accompanist and my future teacher holding my son's violin to the ceiling as though partaking of a strange ritual. It turns out they were trying to shake out a spider that had just crawled in.
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