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Royal Conservatory Music Development Program?

Posted By: Miss Karen

Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/09/13 08:15 PM

I am considering of having a few of my students go through this program in the next upcoming school year. Has anyone gone through the whole process of preparation, assessments, and completing the levels for any of your students? What do you think of the program? Thank you in advance for your answers and feedback.

Posted By: kck

Re: Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/09/13 08:59 PM

Interested in replies here just as a piano parent. Kid here is prepping for the TAP for the first time to test this spring. He's doing level 6. It was hard picking a level for him. Level 6 rep is easy, but he's having to work fairly hard to get ready for the rest. It's an EXTREMELY expensive program so I hope it's worth it.
Posted By: MrsLois

Re: Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/10/13 05:17 PM

Hi there Miss Karen. I have had several students complete the grades of the RCM program, and I think it's a good way to go. I'm not too familiar with other programs (besides ABRSM), but I find that if you pace the preparations and use the books from the beginning of the year, students should be more than prepared. I use the Four Star Sight-Playing and Ear Training books with my kids in addition to the Repertoire, Studies, and Technique, and even the ones who I don't think are particularly musical (i.e. will drop out of piano as soon as Mom and Dad say they can!) have achieved good marks on the exams.

If you do go ahead and enrol students for the exams, make sure you sign up for a teacher number on www.rcmexaminations.org, and have your students enter your number on their exam application. This way, their exam schedule and information will show up in your account.

Good luck!
Posted By: PianoStudent88

Re: Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/11/13 05:02 PM

Because Miss Karen is in the United States, she would use the U.S. version of the RCM program, the RCM Music Development Program, and do her sign ups at http://www.musicdevelopmentprogram.org/.
Posted By: MrsLois

Re: Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/11/13 05:07 PM

Ah ok.
Posted By: PianoStudent88

Re: Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/11/13 05:28 PM

Miss Karen, I am an adult student currently without a teacher (though I did have a teacher for 15 months), preparing for the Music Development Program: Music Theory 3 (which one would normally be taking with Piano Level 7) and Piano Level 1. I'm much more accomplished with paper music theory than I am with playing!

I chose the low piano level for myself because I'm very nervous about my aural skills, and about my ability to memorize, and the RCM recommends that if there's a disparity between skills, to choose the lower level.

I don't know if my experience reflects that of students who work on these things from the beginning with a teacher, but what I find most fiendishly difficult about the program is the aural skills. Identifying intervals, doing playbacks, doing rhythm tapbacks -- all really hard for me.

I try to learn intervals, but the sound of them just doesn't stick solidly in my head to allow me to name them reliably.

The playbacks at level 1, which are just on do-re-mi, are fine because I can hear "low-middle-high", but the level 2 playbacks within a pentascale are a challenge because I find it really hard to pin down steps, skips, and size of skips, and I find it hard to remember pitches or identify pitches in a chord to even be able to tell where the starting note of the playback is compared to the reference chord played at the beginning.

The rhythm tapbacks drive me bananas because they're nothing like how we experience rhythm in real life, where something will be repeated several times and you can hear it within a beat structure. The RCM rhythm tapbacks don't seem to emphasize the downbeat, and you only hear the short snippet twice. Bleeeeagh. I feel like there must be some key for how to grab on to the rhythm and repeat it, but I haven't got it yet. For example, listening to normal music I can very easily hear if it's in 3 or in 4. Listening to the RCM practice rhythm tapbacks, I never have any idea which it is.

I like the practice I am getting at memorization in preparing for the test. I'm terribly slow at it, but it is what it is, and I'm learning about the process of memorization even if I am slow at it. Incidentally, I do not blame my slowness at memorization on being an adult, but on the fact that it's not something I've ever worked at before in terms of having any strategy other than brute force for memorization.

I also like just focusing on the limited set of technical skills for the exam instead of thinking that I should work all 24 scales, chord inversions, and arpeggios into my practice in a short time cycle. I knew all the scales and chords before I started preparing for the exam, so unlike someone who is having to learn the patterns from scratch, for me it just represents patient repetition and slowly building facility and accuracy. Plus I enjoy technical work, so this is a pleasant part of my practicing.

I have a wide taste in music, and am not picky about playing only hard dream pieces, so I am quite happy having the RCM repertory and etude books and playing the pieces at this level. Overall, since stopping my lessons for financial reasons, I'm in somewhat of a rebuilding pattern of going back several levels and moving back up again slowly and carefully. So this fits in with that as well.

I suspect in many ways I'm quite atypical, but I wanted to give this view of what exam preparation feels like for me.
Posted By: John v.d.Brook

Re: Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? - 04/11/13 06:02 PM

Karen, as you live here in Washington, I suggest you look at two existing programs, both of which are strong and easily available to you and your students.

For music evaluation, the Guild program is easily as rigorous as RCM, and much more flexible, so you can select testing programs to better fit your students.

For theory and musicianship, our state organization, WSMTA has testing. I don't know where the nearest testing center is to you, but if you cannot find a Seattle/Tacoma testing location, we have one here in Olympia. This year, roughly 150 students will be testing.

If you're looking for a somewhat less rigorous program, Music Federation is fairly strong, and the closest to you is the Puyallup chapter. Contact Mary Ellen Cavelti for details.
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