We often prepare interested students for Royal Conservatory of Music performance exams. These exams are open to any music student in Canada who wants to pace themselves against a national standard of excellence. Students can also receive extra high school credits for completing these exams. Those of our students who choose to prepare for these exams often do extremely well. Many of them have received medal awards for the highest mark in their category in the province.
We do not start with RCM exams as a goal, but inform students when they are at a point in their study where they can successfully prepare an exam. Then students have a choice whether to do an exam, or not. This does not affect their lessons in any way, it just provides an optional extra project.
Recently we had a student qualify for the Gold Medal award for the highest exam mark of the year in her category. Unfortunately, she was unable to claim the award because she had not completed the Music Theory exam co-requisite. So the RCM awarded the prize to the student with the next highest mark in that category, who was also a student of ours who had completed the Music Theory co-requisite.
We want to avoid future situations like this, by making the Theory component of the RCM exams more accessible. We are now including Theory instruction in our Creative Music Lab (CEL) classes, making the theory component more enjoyable by using it to do creative composition and arranging. We have also scheduled the CEL classes around the RCM Theory exam schedule, so you can take a term of classes and finish with the Theory exam on the last week. Learning in the CEL class is student driven – you can take the class for as long as you want until you are ready for a Theory exam, and then we will recommend you for the appropriate level at the next exam session. Or you can just have fun learning the creative composition, arranging , and theory material for your own enjoyment and never take a Theory exam. Again, like with the lessons, it doesn’t change what we do, it just provides an optional extra project.