Live from China: Coverage of the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition
February 1, 2005 at 06:10 AM · What are RCM levels? I keep reading about RCM grade levels...For example whats RCM level grade 8??? I am currently on the Double Violin Concerto at the end of suzuki book 4....what level am i at???
February 1, 2005 at 06:13 AM · Greetings,
Sue knows this stuff better than me. But I think you migh mean the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools Of Music. They have grades 1-8. You might do a Google search and find out what the pieces are at each level.
Grade 8 is pretty hard. For my Grade 8 I played unaccompanied Bach, the first movement of the Grieg c minor violin sonata and DeFalla -Jota. I don`t know what the Suzuki equivalents are.
February 1, 2005 at 06:19 AM · ABRSM is different from RCM.
RCM is Royal Conservatory of Music (Canadian).
I have the syllabus. It is not really comparable to Suzuki levels, although Suzuki pieces are included on the syllabus. The syllabus is the list of pieces a student must play to demonstrate proficiency at each level.
The Bach Double isn't on the RCM syllabus because it's for 2 violins. But for example, at RCM grade 6, the Vivaldi a minor is listed (Suzuki book 4) and at Grade 7, Vivaldi G minor which is Suzuki book 5.
You are interested in knowing what grade 8 is. (I think that ABRSM ends at grade 8, but RCM goes up to grade 10 followed by Professional ACRT).
Here are some pieces listed at grade 8
Bach A minor concerto (isn't that Suzuki book 7?)
de Beriot Concerto in B minor,
Haydn G major concerto
Dvorak Sonatina in G major,
Mozart Sonata in G major,
Kreisler, Liebesfreud, Schon Rosmarin, Sicilienne and Rigaudon,
Mozart Rondo in D Major
Ten Have, Allegro Brilliante
Unaccompanied Bach: Partita no. 2 in d minor, Giga; partita no. 3 in E major: bouree or Minuets I and II or Gigue
February 1, 2005 at 06:27 AM · Greetings,
thanks Nick. Do you have to play sitting in a Kayak?
February 1, 2005 at 01:24 PM · ABRSM Grade 8 has similar pieces, and also has diplomas in performing, teaching and directing at three different levels. However, there's a big jump between Grade 8 and the first diploma, and between each diploma too. The second of the three diplomas correlates approximately with college grad standard.
February 1, 2005 at 02:04 PM · Hi Sue,
So do you teach your students for those exams? What do you think of the gap between Grade 4 and 6? I took Grade 4 little over a year ago and am thinking to take G6 maybe end of the year.
Also, how long do you start the students preparing/working on the material? 6-12 months in advance?
February 1, 2005 at 02:47 PM · Greetings, Buri,
Nick can confirm that all true blue Canadians practise with snowshoes firmly strapped to their feet while simultaneously balancing in long canoes paddled by the seven dwarves. The dwarves serve as metronomes.
Yes, RCM is Royal Conservatory of Music. There's a Web-site out there somewhere.
February 1, 2005 at 04:45 PM · Inge,
I can confirm that, yes, your suspicions are true. All true blue Canadians practice like that. Sometimes, if it's really cold, you must balance on a dog sled.
Nick, you are correct about RCM, however after grade 10 it goes to a Performers ARCT (with grade 10, History 1-3, Theory 1-4, Counterpoint, Keyboard Anaylsis, and Grade 8 Piano as a pre/co-requesite) and there is also the option of a Teachers ARCT. ARCT stands for Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. So, if you have a Performers ARCT, you can call yourself an Associate Performer of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. Big titles that don't really mean much. (That said...*puffs up chest* I have my Performers ARCT)
February 1, 2005 at 10:55 PM · Guys, you forgot the required violin scroll carved in the shape of a Maple Leaf.
February 1, 2005 at 11:39 PM · maple leaf scroll? that sounds awesome. I wanna be canadian (like being american, but better)
AMEB (Australia Music Education Board) has similar grades: Preliminary, 1-8, and then A.Mus.A (Associate of Music Australia), then L.Mus.A (Licentiate of Music Australia) and then you can study for F.Mus.A (Fellowship of Music Australia).
Sample programs for grade 8-Fmus:
Dont 2, 3, 5 or 13
Kreutzer 26, 30, 24, 25 or 38
Bach: Sarabande and Gigue from Partita Dmin no 2, BWV 1004
Mozart: first movements from Concertos 1, 2 or 3
Telemann Fantasia Number 1
Beethoven Romance number 1 or 2
Rimsky-Korsakov The Bumblebee, arr Heifetz
Bach: Siciliano and Presto from Sonata number 1, BWV 1001; Sarabande, Double, Tempo di Bouree from Partita number 1, BWV1002; or Largo and Allegro from Sonata number 3 BWV 1005
Vivaldi, Any Four seasons concerto
Mozart first and second movements from concertos 4 or 5
First or third movements from Brahms Sonata op 78, Schumann Sonata op 105, or Elgar Sonata op 82
Joplin's The Entertainer or The Ragtime Dance, arr Perlman
Szymanowski Chant de Roxane
Suk Appassionata or Burleske from Four pieces, Op 17
Bach Adagio and Fuge from G minor, BWV 1001; Fugue or Andante and Allegro from Sonata in A minor, BWV 1003; Praeludium, Loure and Gavotte from Partita in E, BWV 1006
Beethoven Concerto, 1st or 2nd and 3rd movements
1st and 2nd or 3rd movements of Bruch concerto
Bruch Scottish fantasy, 1st and second movements, or finale
Mendelssohn Concerto, 1st or 3rd movement
Tartini 3rd and 4th movements from Devils Trill sonata
Sarasate's Habanera op 21 No 2, Zigeunerweisen Op 20 no 1, Introduction and Tarantelle Op 43, Caprice Basque, arr Francescatti, or Carman Fantasy
This is a public recital that is to last 80 minutes, with a maximum of 20 minutes interval. Program should be 40 minutes, interval, 40 minutes, with adjustments made for pieces over 40 minutes. Brass, Woodwind and vocal students must have performances of 30 minutes long as a minumum.
Suggested Violin Program:
Beethoven Sonata or Brahms Sonata.
Bach Partita No 2, any Ysaye Sonata, or selections from Paganini's 24 Caprices
Tartini's Devil's Trill sonata, Ravel's Tzigane, Bartok's Solo Violin sonata, or Stravinsky's Suite Italiane
So there you have it, the highest exams in Australia. Doesn't seem too hard now does it?
February 2, 2005 at 12:45 AM · im canadian! and its great! haha :P...we dont say aboot it, we dont live in igloos..and we dont own dogsleds....at least most of us dont.
February 2, 2005 at 12:56 AM · Jonathan,
You're Canadian so no wonder you keep hearing about RCM levels.
February 2, 2005 at 01:12 AM · Hi Violin Mac,
Yes, I do prepare students for the Associated Board exams; even if the student doesn't wish to take exams, we'll still often work up to pieces from the relevant syllabus because the selected pieces are often part of the basic 'staple' repertoire for violin, and provide a good variety of styles and composers.
About the gap between Grades 4 and 6, in my view it's a big one; even the gap between 5 and 6 is substantial, and I would expect the average student to take a year or so to get from one grade to the next up to Grade 5, and possibly longer thereafter. At Grade 4 you will have been expected to demonstrate clear grasp of third and maybe second positions, and play material in a wider variety of keys. Also some basic sightsinging as part of the aural test. By Grade 6 - as well as obtaining the compulsory Grade 5 Theory - you will need a good vibrato, competent playing in higher positions (fifth and sixth), and above all you will be required to really present a performance rather than simply reading the dots. Scalewise you should be comfortable with both harmonic and melodic minors, and selected three octave scales, plus Bb sixths. Aural training will require more harmonic work: you will need the ability to identify basic cadences, and sightsing along to an accompaniment. You should also be able to discuss the music you hear according to period and style.
About when to begin preparing exam pieces, it depends entirely on the student, but personally I much prefer to play lots of non-syllabus material before beginning possible exam pieces. I don't like to spend longer than six months on exam repertoire - even interspersed with other pieces - and if the student is genuinely ready to take the grade in question, this shouldn't be necessary anyway; in my mind it's a poor teacher who simply takes their student from syllabus to syllabus, and spends a year basically preparing the pieces by rote: there is more to being Grade 8 standard than having played a total of twenty-four pieces over the course of eight years.
Why not take Grade 5 first?:)
February 2, 2005 at 03:25 AM · Hey,Johnathan, don't speak for the whole country; I've met plenty of Canooks who do say "Aboot." as in, "So, where aboots are you from, eh?" And every radio station I pick up on my way through talks about hockey and the price of maple syrup. George and I enjoy it thoroughly. You Canadians are great! My favorite thing about Canada is Tim Horton's Canadian Maple donuts.
February 2, 2005 at 03:43 AM · HAHA!! I LOVE TIM HORTONS!! They just opened up another shop near my home! hehehehe...i love the Ice Capps..even tho its already cold in Canada...its an ice capp...come on!...funny thing is tho....Tim Hortons merged with Wendys a while ago...Its a subsidiary of wendys...which is an American company...hmm.....
February 2, 2005 at 04:11 AM · My understanding is that Tim Hortons first emerged as an American company but found most of it's business in Canada...though perhaps I've been misinformed.
*later* Ah Ha! I HAVE been misinformed. I just look at their website and found out that the first store opened in Hamilton Ontario in 1964. It is 100% Canadian.
February 2, 2005 at 05:21 AM · Tim Horton's rocks! I went to a music festival in canada, and so can say this first-hand. Off topic, canadian ice cream is also equally amazing, as is the variety of candy bars available.
February 2, 2005 at 05:59 AM · Go Tim Hortons. You know, the east coast I think was hit with an epidemic of Tim Hortons over-population.
Canada is not always cold though! It gets up to over 40 C where I live in the summer, and even right now, 10C is a typical high the past week or so.
February 2, 2005 at 07:18 AM · do you live on bc's coast?
February 3, 2005 at 08:23 AM · Nick, do you happen to know the RCM syllabus up to gr. 5? No, modify that. I'm thinking of going for the gr. 4 exam so I'd like to know what is expected up to that level other than pieces, studies & the scales/chords. I did the gr. 1 exam and there was a simple ear test, intervals (I think probably only something like 3rds and P4 & P5), playing back something simple in a choice of two given keys. That's the kind of thing I'm after: the stuff other than from the technical book & pieces book. I hate being in the dark. After all, I can work on interval recognition through the goodear site, for example. I'm asking up to gr. 5 because I'm doing gr. 5 so I'd like to know what I'm supposed to up to.
I feel like someone after a disaster, clearing up the rubble, looking around, and getting straightened out and goals set again. It was a tough year but I've been on my feet for 3 months now and it's time to have some kind of sense of direction. If you happen to know ... thanks.
February 3, 2005 at 07:23 PM · Inge, I'm going to put here grades 3, 4 and 5 so you can see the transition.
(By the way, this is a 1999 edition and things may have changed a bit) All the grades have ear tests, rhythm,melody playback and sight reading. There are no theory co-requisites until grade 5. Then you need to pass the first level of theory test, preliminary rudiments)
As you remember, there are three lists and you have to play one piece from each. (I'm just going to give the more well known pieces to give the idea of the level, if you have more questions about a specific grade, ask me and I'll give more info)
Bach Minuet (Suzuki book 3)
Beethoven Minuet (Suzuki book 2)
Kuchler, Concertino in g major;
Lully, Gavotte (Suzuki book 2)
Martini, Gavotte (Suzuki book 3)
Brahms, Waltz (Suzuki book 2)
Schumann, the Two Grenadiers (Suzuki book 2)
Kabalevsky, On Holiday (from 20 pieces for violin and piano)
Kabalevsky, Sad Story (from 30 Childrens' Pieces)
Norton, Christopher, Microjazz for Violin
Persichetti, Vincent, Masques
Severn, Perpetuum Mobile
Technical: 2 contrasting studies
Kayser, no 2 or no. 3
Wohlfhart, 60 studies,
one of 4,5,6,14,17,20
Scales and arpeggios in 2 octaves
Kuchler, Concertino in D Major
Mollenhauer, The Infant Paganini
Rieding, Concerto in B minor
Rieding, Concerto in D Major
Rieding, Concerto in G major
Bach, Govotte in G minor (Suzuki book 3)
Corelli, Allegro from Concerto Grosso op. 6 no. 8
Thomas, Gavotte (in Suzuki book 2)
Boccherini, Minuet (Suzuki, book 2)
Dvorak, Humoresque (Suzuki book 3)
Tchaikovsky, Neapolitan Dance from Swan Lake
Technical Requirements: 2 constrasting studies
Kayser, no. 4
Trott, Melodious Double stops, one of nos. 1-9
Wohlfahrt, one of nos. 31-37
Dancla, Airs varie, no. 1, 2
Huber, Concertino in G major
Seitz, Concerto no. 5 in D major (Suzuki book 4)
Seitz, concerto no 2 in G major
(Suzuki book 4)
Sonatas in d, e, A, F, E
Telemann, Sonata no. 5
Bach, Bourree (Suzuki book 3)
Bohm, Perpetual mobile
Haydn, The Oxen Minuet
Mozart, German Dance arr. K509, no. 1
Tartini, Sonata in G
Kayser, 36 etudes, one of nos. 5,6,8
Trott, Double stops, one of nos. 10-18
Wohlfahrt, op. 45, book 2
one of nos. 42, 44, 45
Let me know if you have any questions, I can tell you more.
February 3, 2005 at 11:23 PM · Thank you SO MUCH, Nick!!!
I'm afraid that I do have a ton of questions.
OK, the one thing that's not there are what intervals, 'play back skills' etc. exist for each of those grades. Is this in a silver gray book and is that book expensive?
Next, I saw tons of studies and pieces in that list that are not included in the two RCM books (i.e. the grade-specific book for pieces and more importantly the Technical Requirements books gr. 1 - 4 & 5 - 8.) Keeping the pieces aside, does that mean students in the RCM program usually/often cover more than just the average of three studies per grade that are in the book? Do they usually work through all of the studies listed in the syllabus or at the teachers'/students' discretion?
I already noticed that the gr. 4 Wohlfahrt study is the 4th study in the Wohlfahrt book, and that the previous 3 studies seem to lead up and prepare for it, so that there would have been an advantage to doing the others as well.
This goes beyond my initial question of exams though it does indeed pertain to it, since the course of studies affects the ability and calibre of what happens at an exam. And then in the final analysis an exam is a milestone and a tool toward learning. For someone going off on a career in music it of course has additional aspects which fortunately I'm spared.
I had no idea what the program covered, and thought as far as the exams were concerned that we were restricted to those three studies.
February 4, 2005 at 12:11 AM · Hi, Inge:
>that's not there are what >intervals, 'play back >skills' etc. exist for each >of those grades. Is this in >a silver gray book and is >that book expensive?
It actually is fairly specific. For scales it lists which ones, the tempo, the rhythm pattern, chromatic, etc. When you decide which level, tell me and I can give you the whole dope.
On the ear tests,
Rhythm: "Candidates will be asked to clap or tap the rhythm of a short melody after it has been played twice by the examiner: level 3 time signatures are 2/4 and 3/4; grade 4 is 2/4 and 6/8, grade 5 is 3/4 and 6/8.
Intervals: Candidates may choose to: a) sing or hum any of the following intervals after the examiner has played the first note OR b) identify any of the following intervals after the examiner has played the interval once in a broken form.
grade 3: above a given note: major 3rd, perfect 5th, perfect octave
below a given note: minor 3rd, perfect 5th
grade 4 intervals: above a given note: major and minor 3rd, perfect 4th, 5th and octave; below a given note: minor 3rd, perfect 5th, octave.
grade 5 intervals: above a given note: major and minor 3rd, perfect 4th, 5th and octave; below a given note, major and minor 3rds, perfect 5th and octave
Grade 3: "Candidates will be asked to play back a five note melody, either on the violin or on the piano. The melody will be based on the first five notes of a major scale and may contain a leap of a third and or a fifth. The examiner will name the key, play the tonic triad once and play the melody twice.
beginning notes: tonic or mediant
keys: G major, d major A major
Grade four: Same as grade 3, only the melody will be six notes long and the beginning nots will be tonic, mediant or dominant.
Grade five: Same as before, only now the melody will be seven notes long, and add E major to the keys.
Grade 3: Play a short melody in first position, approximately equal to grade 1. Clap the rhythm of a melody in 3/4 or 4/4 time maintaining a steady beat.
Grade 4: Same but difficulty is now grade 2.
Grade 5: same with difficulty now at grade 3.
And yes, this is a silvery green book and no it is not expensive. Shar carries it.
>Next, I saw tons of studies >and pieces in that list that >are not included in the two >RCM books (i.e. the grade->specific book for pieces and >more importantly the >Technical Requirements books >gr. 1 - 4 & 5 - 8.) Keeping >the pieces aside, does that >mean students in the RCM >program usually/often cover >more than just the average >of three studies per grade >that are in the book? Do >they usually work through >all of the studies listed in >the syllabus or at the >teachers'/students' >discretion?
It's my impression that most people take the test for a grade when they are already playing repertoire from the next grade level. This is to insure a good outcome. :) I don't know anyone who plays the entire grade level. The choice of pieces is up to the teacher and student. Many people do not buy the RCM repertoire books, but take their rep from other sources.
>I already noticed that the >gr. 4 Wohlfahrt study is >the .4th study in the >Wohlfahrt book, and that the >previous 3 studies seem to >lead up and prepare for it, >so that there would have >been an advantage to doing >the others as well.
Probably the idea is that you have done the studies up and through the level you are testing at.
>This goes beyond my initial >question of exams though it >does indeed pertain to it, >since the course of studies >affects the ability and >calibre of what happens at >an exam. And then in the >final analysis an exam is a >milestone and a tool toward >learning. For someone going >off on a career in music it >of course has additional >aspects which fortunately >I'm spared.
There are pros and cons to taking tests all the time. It can be helpful to measure where you are and show you have accomplished something. Especially with theory. But just speaking for myself, I think what's really important is playing the music.
I like to consult the syllabus because it shows a progression of study and is useful. But I myself have only taken the ABRSM theory tests, not the performance tests. But I do know people who do take them. I can see that taking the performer's or teacher's exam could give you a credential.
>I had no idea what the >program covered, and thought >as far as the exams were >concerned that we were >restricted to those three >studies.
Actually you can do any in the silver book and I only made a selection, there are lots of different choices, plus the committee will even accept your proposal for a different piece or etude if you like.
Hope this is helpful.
February 4, 2005 at 01:25 AM · Thanks, Nick, that's a great help. I'll have to go to town for some music for my son and I'll look for the gray book - it seems worth having. I was hoping that the RCM might list this on-line but no such luck. The ear test thing seems a piece of cake since I've already sung rather advanced repertoire. "Sing or hum" ... cool! I now understand the system and the process much better. As far as exams are concerned, I find I thrive on the "push" (let's see how long that lasts).
Oh, and yes about the grade levels. I'm doing gr. 5 technical studies and gr. 4 pieces and don't know at what point I'll move up to the next level of pieces. Once gr. 5 tech. is done, probably. So that fits the profile.
With the exception of two digressions, one of them mine, my repertoire has been entirely from those two books the last 3 years. Unofficially I've digressed more often. I have a Mazas thinking they were "duets" which they are, but in fact studies. OK, drifting off topic.
February 4, 2005 at 02:09 AM · I don't get the thing about the canoes or kyaks or whatever . . . half the year everything's frozen. Also playing outside generally makes my fingers freeze and my strings go out of tune very quickly :) Those maple doughnuts sure are good though, I have to agree . . . (I live in northern Alberta by the way)
For the RCM thing, I'm trying to decide whether to take my grade 9 or grade 10 this year. 3/4 of my repretoire is from the gr. 10 list and studies aren't a problem, but I'm worried about technique and expecially the ear training, rhythm and sight reading stuff. I only did my gr. 7 last june too, so this would be quite a jump. Any thoughts?
February 5, 2005 at 12:45 AM · Alexandra, sounds like you could take the grade 10 test without a problem. There are theory co-requisites and I remember from your blog you just did theory rudiments 2? For grade 9 you need rudiments 2, grade 3 harmony or introductory keyboard harmony and grade 3 history. For grade 10 you need grade 2 rudiments, grade 3 harmony or introductory keyboard, grade 3 history and grade 4 history.
I think that's right, though I thought you had to have theory 5 at grade 10 but maybe that's for piano.
February 5, 2005 at 02:51 AM · I'm doing my grade 10 violin this June (tentatively) and I have finished my history 3, 4, and rudiments 2, I still need harmony 3 and 4 yet. The ARCT exam is where you need the history/harmony 5, counterpoint and anaylsis and piano requirements.
February 5, 2005 at 05:32 AM · Kelsey, right-the Performer's ARCT test requires:
Grade 4 counterpoint
Grade 5 Analysis
Grade 5 harmony or advanced keyboard harmony
Grade 5 history
Grade 6 piano
grade 5 analysis
grade 5 harmony or advanced keyboard harmony
grade 5 history
grade 8 piano
February 5, 2005 at 06:04 AM · Yup! Thanks, Nick! :D Got my grade 8 piano done and out of the way a while back(also working on grade 10 in piano), so I'm good to go, aside from the remaining theory. I really enjoy doing the theory, aside from some of the history stuff though!
February 5, 2005 at 07:56 PM · Yes, theory is a problem for me. I hadn't done any of it prior to last July, when I started with preliminary and grade one, and I just did my grade 2 test in december (which I'm very glad I got done because I need it to get into the music program at my local college). I really loved my theory teacher, who I am now taking piano from (something else I decided I better start) but she only teaches theory rudiments. So far I haven't been able to find anyone to teach me harmony and music history. As for the piano corequisite, I only started last month so grade 6 would be a lot of work, but I'm planning on taking my grade five in August.
February 6, 2005 at 02:09 AM · When I needed ABRSM Grade 8 Theory to enter the LRSM Teaching, I just couldn't find anyone to coach me outside university; music college grads had either never needed theory at that level, or never used it and forgotten it. Eventually I took from a reputable orchestral arranger - and even he was learning half the performance directions with me!:)
March 1, 2005 at 03:28 AM · what is the syllabus nick? is it on your computer so that you can somehow send it to me through email?
March 1, 2005 at 06:23 AM · Jonothan, sorry, it's a book. What can I tell you? Vaht do you vant to kno?
March 1, 2005 at 03:32 PM · Is the RCM system also used in the States? (I notice that's where you're located.) Over here the book can be purchased at the type of music store that sells classical music. I went on the RCM Web-site and noticed that the 1999 edition (most recent?) has had some changes made to it which are posted on the site.
March 1, 2005 at 10:12 PM · Question: How is it that the US seems to be the only Western country without a music examination system? Canada has RCM, Australia has AMEB, and practically everywhere else is covered by the Associated Board. Yet America has a culture which seems to value being 'the best'. So why no standard assessment system? How does one determine a musician's playing standard without one? And no, 'the number of years you've been playing'(!?!) and 'Suzuki Book 2' do not qualify as intelligent responses. The question regarding other countries' exam systems comes up at least every few months on this board. There seems to be very little awareness of the music education systems in countries outside the US, and it goes beyond the basic grading systems. Guess what? Other countries have excellent music schools as well! And excellent teachers! And excellent performers! Look around.
March 2, 2005 at 06:16 AM · Sue, Excellent point! That's why I use the RCM as a reference. And no it is not really used in America, Inge. My best friend is a Canadian and his family were all doing RCM so that is how I heard of it. Violinists here have to resort to using ABRSM (the theory books are taught here, at least at my pre-college conservatory and in the boys' choir I was in, as well as most colleges) but nobody does the performance tests.
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