The RCM Method: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you considering getting your child started with the RCM but still have some questions? Are you wondering if the RCM method right for your child? What the exams are like? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the methodology? Well, continue reading our RCM Beginner’s Guide to find out!

What Is The RCM? 

The RCM stands for the Royal Conservatory of Music. It is an institution that has been active in Canada for 130 years! Many famous musicians have studied with them or used their method of learning, such as Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall and David Foster

Students can take classes with the RCM at their physical institution in downtown Toronto. They can also use the RCM method with their own private teacher to prepare for exams, which are held multiple times a year. 

The RCM method has 10 levels that cover repertoire, technique, theory and listening skills. There is an exam for each level that students must pass to move forward. 

Students can use the RCM method on the classical instrument of their choice, the most popular being piano, violin, guitar and voice. 

Is The RCM Method For Classical Music Only? 

The RCM method focuses on classical music. Though it does provide some jazz and modern pieces, it is a more traditional Eurocentric method. 

If a students goal is, for instance, to play pop piano the RCM method may not be the best choice. 

How Difficult Are The Exams? 

Much like the modern school system, RCM tests are standardized. The student performs in front of a “Jury”, which is a group of two or more music professionals who assess the student on their prepared material. Students must perform at a high enough level to pass their exam. They are graded on their repertoire, etudes, technique and listening skills. 

The material required to pass increases with difficulty in each level. Though some material can be challenging, with practice and a knowledgeable teacher students will succeed as long as they prepare. 

Is The RCM Method Suitable For Beginners? 

The RCM method is suitable for younger students. However, the music is presented in a drier, more academic way than some other book series. Depending on the student, this can be a positive or negative thing. 

The RCM does offer two prep courses to help prepare brand new students. 

With this being said, for a child who is an absolute beginner we usually recommended starting with simpler series first in order to create a foundation to build upon with the RCM method. 

What Are The Benefits Of The RCM Program? 

One of the benefits of the RCM method are the examinations, which can be a great thing for many students! They provide a clear structure to progress, give a sense of achievement and allow of performance confidence to be built up. 

The method also focuses on technique, providing students with a high level of facility that can be put to use in other styles of music, should they so choose.

If a student enjoys working within clear boundaries the RCM method can be a great route to go down. 

Can The RCM Method Count Towards High School Credits?

Yes! This is a very cool feature of the program. Students can earn a grade 11 music credit for completing and passing RCM level 7 on the instrument of their choice, and a grade 12 music credit for completing RCM level 8 on the instrument of their choice.

What Are The Drawbacks Of The RCM Program? 

Due to its traditionalism, the program may not be the best choice for students who don’t flourish in a standardized environment. 

The RCM method tends to focus more on the technique of music as less on the creative aspects. This again, is something that can be a positive or a negative depending on the student. 

The RCM method also stays primarily in the western cannon of music, and doesn’t explore other styles in depth. 

Does Toronto Arts Academy Offer RCM Testing? 

Testing is only done by the RCM themselves. However, many of our teachers are RCM certified and will work with students to prepare them for examinations. 

How Can I Learn More About The RCM? 

You can view more information about their method here. You can also reach out to us anytime at 647 748 2787 and we’d be happy to help!

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