logo.jpgRCM Examination Information - Piano Levels 8 - 9

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Preparation must begin at least a year (preferably two years) prior to taking an exam at the Royal Conservatory. There are four components to the exam:

  1. Repertoire (pieces) (56%)
  2. Technique (24%)
  3. Ear Tests (10%)
  4. Sight Reading (10%)

1. REPERTOIRE (56%):

There are three lists of music from which to choose: List A (14%), List B (16%), List C (14%), List D (12%). No repeats are necessary, but Da Capo signs are to be observed. All of my students must have two or more pieces learned from each list, although only one piece from each list is necessary for an exam:

List A: Baroque

List B: Classical

List C: Romantic

List D: Post-Romantic, 20 th      /21 st      Century

Memorization is mandatory. One mark will be deducted for any selections that are not memorized.

2. TECHNIQUE (24%):

There are two parts to this component of the exam:

  1. Technical Tests (12%):
    These include scales, chords, and arpeggios. These must be memorized and up to the required tempo.
  2. Etudes (12%):
    My students must learn at least four etudes but two etudes must be prepared for the exam. Etudes need not be memorized.
    One etude may be substituted for a work from the Popular Selection List.

3. EAR TESTS (10%):

This component of the exam consists of four parts:

  1. Intervals (2%):
    name intervals by ear
  2. Melody playback (4%):
    play back a melody
  3. Chords (2%):
    name a chord by ear
  4. Chord Progressions (2%):
    name a chord progression by ear


This component of the exam consists of two parts:

  1. Play (7%):
    play a short excerpt of music from sight after given a short time to study it
    generally expected to be able to sight read three levels below the level currently studying
  2. Clap (3%):
    clap the rhythm of a simple rhythmic pattern from sight

What is an Exam Like?

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. 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.

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. 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 twenty minutes or more.

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”!

Use the same strategies that have been outlined in Recital Preparation 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 approximately 4 - 6 weeks after the exam.


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