RCM levels as a method
I started learning violin as an adult using the Suzuki method (up to book 3) and have moved on to the RCM curriculum. I don't particularly want to do exams (which my teacher is encouraging), and I am wondering if following the RCM curriculum is a suitable way to learn and advance on the violin, even if I don't do the exams? Would another method be more suitable?
I assume it would have to be supplemented with other materials (etudes and repertoire), but I think it's at least useful as a reference to keep you from leaving gaps in your learning.
The RCM progression is kind of strange and a little slow from what I remember. I would recommend introducing advanced techniques before they show up in the RCM program (for example, up-bow staccato and ricochet, which make a surprise appearance out of nowhere in book 6).
I like J Ray's answer. The RCM syllabus is a good list of graded repertoire and etudes. In theory you can do the RCM curriculum without doing the exams.
I'll call it ABRSM, as that's what I was brought up on on piano and oboe.
I agree with most of the posts here - this is a good graded 'method', and was the background to the way I was taught. As someone suggested, I did skip some exams. One other observation - at each grade there seemed to be a big disparity between the difficulty of some of the pieces you could chose from. For instance, for my grade 8 I found the unaccompanied Bach choices very demanding, so I chose( for me)a much easier sonata by Leclair (which I played quite well, according to the examiner). Maybe this was just a reflection of my strengths and limitations as a player......
There are lots of graded-study-and-repertoire lists out there. RCM seems to be one that has a good reputation. With all such lists, the main thing is to have a teacher who understands the rationale underpinning the order and who can make adjustments (changes to the order, additions, deletions) as needed for the individual student. If you're going to do the exams then probably no deletions. One good thing about the exams is that you get a "second opinion" on your progress although this can be accomplished with a master class, with a "colleague lesson" or (mostly for kids) with a summer camp experience.
Gordon: neither ABRSM nor Suzuki reaches "music college" level, if by "music college" you mean undergraduate performance degree programs. The standard for admission has risen quite a bit over the decades. I had a DipABRSM (above Grade 8) in piano performance at the end of high school (I graduated in 2000) and would at best have gotten into a second-tier university program in piano performance. To be qualified for a conservatory or a major university degree program, you probably need to be at least two or three years (and probably more) beyond completing the entire Suzuki series or ABRSM Grade 8. Also, Suzuki goes farther in some aspects of technique but ABRSM is arguably more complete, so the amount of further progress needed is similar.
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