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Preparation must begin six months prior to taking an exam at the Royal Conservatory. There are four components to the exam:
There are two lists of music from which to choose: List A (25%) and List B (25%). Memory is not required. No repeats are necessary, but Da Capo signs are to be observed. All of my students must learn two or more pieces from each list, although only one piece from each list is necessary for an exam:
Levels Preparatory (Prep) and 1:
List A: Rhythmic Repertoire
List B: Lyrical Repertoire
Levels 2 to 4:
List A: Baroque and Classical Repertoire
List B: Romantic and 20 th /21 st Century Repertoire
There are two parts to this component of the exam:
a) Technical Tests (10%):
These include scales and arpeggios. These must be memorised and up to the required tempo.
b) Etudes (20%):
For levels Prep and 1, I insist my students learn four etudes but two etudes must be prepared for the exam. For levels 2 and up, my students must learn at least six etudes but four etudes must be prepared for the exam.
This component of the exam consists of two or three parts:
Levels Prep – 1:
Levels 2 – 4:
This component of the exam consists of two parts:
Like recitals or festivals, exams can create some anxiety. I try to give as much information as I can to my students so there are no surprises. If you know what to expect, much of the reason for the nervousness is eliminated. The most important thing is to know your music and technique well.
You must bring all of your music and your Examination Program Form (completely filled out) to the exam. Also bring your instrument and music stand. Arrive at least one half hour before the exam. You do not want to be harried when you arrive. Make sure you know where to go and announce yourself to the person in charge. You will be shown where to wait. You can wait with your family or friends there. You may not be given a warm up room, so warm up in your car before you go in.
There will only be two people in the examining room: you and the examiner. No one else is allowed with the exception of perhaps an examiner-in-training. You may choose to start with technique or pieces. The examiner will pick a few examples of technique. For the lower levels, he/she will listen to the whole pieces and etudes (depending on time). For the higher levels the examiner will likely stop you from playing whole pieces (especially the Da Capo). Then the examiner will test your ear and sight-reading. The exam will take between ten and twenty minutes.
The examiner may talk to you or may not. He or she may simply write while you play. Be sure to wait for the examiner to ask you to play. Do not go on to your next piece until he/she is ready. Be sure to listen to his/her questions carefully! You do not want a mark of zero because you played the “C Major” scale when he/she asked you to play in “a minor”! Listen carefully for which hand as well.
Use the same strategies that have been outlined in Recital and Festival Preparation sheets to help deal with nervousness and prepare for a performance. Remember: if your music is well prepared and you try the best you can, then you will do well.
You can access your exam marks and examiner comments by logging in to your account on the RCM Examinations website (examinations.rcmusic.ca) approximately 4 - 6 weeks after the exam.