The Achievement Program

Royal American Conservatory Examinations, National Music Certificate Program and now, The Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program.

Click here to meet the shiny new face of the Royal Conservatory Program in the US. I think this brand is finally a keeper! The association with Carnegie will certainly boost the organization’s national profile—there has already been a New York Times article! The new website is well organized, informative, integrates a way to purchase materials and generally gives a better picture of what the program is all about. My hope is that the system will really begin to take root deeply in the US.

My students have been participating in the exams over the last five years and I cannot say enough about how much I love the curriculum. It is built to facilitate the growth of a complete musician. Children are not just learning to play a few songs—they must develop their ear-training, sight-reading, and technique skills. The theory, harmony, analysis and music history components of the program are deeply thorough and assure that young people are looking at music from many angles. The publications that are focused toward this curriculum are high quality, well edited and fresh. There is a great spirit of energy and creativity in the community of teachers who are a part of RCM programs. Just in this last year I have discovered great new teaching tools like Tonic Tutor and Ultimate Music Theory, both rooted in the RCM system.

One of my favorite things about the organization’s new face is their new slogan:

“Inspire the Desire to Aspire”

I love this. It epitomizes my purpose as a teacher. Regardless of what a student’s long-term musical goals may be, I believe that it is crucial to strive for excellence. Achieving challenges and working at a high level are extremely motivating to a child.
Piano lessons are a long trek. Every child will cycle through ups and downs, periods of motivation and weeks of feeling stuck. The breakthroughs come when students discover the value of their work and are able to see their own progress, understanding that it is a result of those hours of practice. They feel strong, capable and inspired to achieve even greater levels of mastery, in all areas of life!

3 Replies to “The Achievement Program”

  1. I’ve already posted a similar comment on Color in my Piano – like most Canadian teachers, I’ve grown up in this system. It mostly has a lot of benefits, but care needs to be taken that it doesn’t become the end, rather than the means to becoming a good musician. It’s easy to dismiss anything outside the “system” and, thereby, lose out on a lot. I’ve written more on this topic on my blog – search “examinations.”
    All the best in your exploration of what is essentially a good system,

  2. Hi LaDona,
    Thanks for your note! I just read your post on about examinations and I definitely agree that it is crucial not to let The Exam become the sole purpose of a child’s musical education. I try to give my students some pieces from other sources and often those are the pieces that the kids choose to perform at their recitals. I particularly find that around Grades 2 and 3 students are ready for larger works than those which are given in the Celebration Perspectives series. I’d love to hear your thoughts on other ways to “broaden the focus” with students that are on the exam track.

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