I really like the curriculum of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. It is by far the most widely used assessment program for developing musicians in Canada. The examinations are now available here in many states as well. In this country, it is referred to as the National Music Certificate Program. Some thoughts about this program...
1) I really like the wide variety of repertoire. You can use selections contained in the series "Piano Perspectives", or you can draw from a large number of additional pieces from the syllabus. I think the "Piano Persepctives" books are great for most students as their primary lesson
books once they are out of the methods.
2) Technique, sight-reading, and ear-training are all a part of the examination requirements. In general, I find our American students are more likely to play at a high level, but be lacking in these musicianship skills. Knowing that it is part of the examination helps keep me focused on including these skills in the lessons week in and week out.
3) The theory examinations are extremely tough, especially at the higher grade levels. In fact, I know teachers who refuse to get on board with this program because they think the theory tests are too demanding. Again, compared with international students, I would say that many US students studying music in college are considerably deficient in their theory backgrounds. (I know that I was!)
4) This is a very professionally run program. The standards to which the examiners are held is very high and they undergo continuing training to insure that students are receiving judgement under a uniform criteria, whether they are in New York City or the corn fields of Iowa. Students receive exam scores that actually mean something.
It can be very daunting to start with this program, and by all means I would encourage you to have students participate in more accessible programs like the Guild auditions or the NFMC festivals. But I would seriously give the National Music Certificate Program some serious thought. Maybe just starting out with one or two students in the early grade levels, and working from there. You can get some basic information on the program on their website at http://www.nationalmusiccertificate.org
. I'm happy to try to answer any questions you might have.
Best of luck,
BTW, a supposedly big announcement is going to be made at the MTNA national conference in Milwaukee at the end of the month regarding the NMCP... Could be interesting.