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#1443100 - 05/25/10 12:09 AM Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP)
Selah411 Offline
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Registered: 05/08/10
Posts: 27
Hello Teachers!

I was wondering if your students took the history and harmony examinations both in the same year. I have a student that is in level 8 and wants to take the theory co-requisites. Would you have them prepare for both exams in one year? And what books would you recommend?

Thank you SO much for your advice!
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#1444262 - 05/26/10 07:18 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: Selah411]
MomOfBeginners Offline
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Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 110
Loc: California, USA
Seeing as no teachers responded, I thought I can give my input.

I am not a teacher, but I did take the RCM history and harmony about 15 years ago. Yes, it's possible to take Gr. 3 history + Gr. 3 harmony at the same time. It's possible to take Gr. 4 harmony + counterpoint + history at the same time. Same with the Gr. 5 classes. They actually complemented each other. I took classes from the conservatory itself, sometimes over the summer, sometimes over the school year. That was 15 years ago. Things may have changed.

Maybe you're asking if it's advisable to take these exams at the same time...in which case a teacher's advice would be much more useful.
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#1444369 - 05/26/10 10:21 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: MomOfBeginners]
Selah411 Offline
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Registered: 05/08/10
Posts: 27
Was it really intensive? Especially taking harmony, counterpoint, AND history all at the same time?!?!?!? My student is in high school and you know how overloaded these kids are!!!

Thanks for the input though!
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#1444422 - 05/26/10 11:58 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: Selah411]
GYABEAUX Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: Canada
I'd love to know as well to see if I can make it this August. How would history, harmony, counterpoint, analysis at each level compare to say, a first year chemistry class in university in terms of amount of material I need to know for the exam? How much memorization is involved? I'm guessing history would be >80% memory work and the others are based on concepts that build on one another, like math or physics (except they won't give you formulas)? I can CRAM like mad if it's not memory based...

I took advanced rudiments just before they changed their syllabus. I heard they've moved a few things from the old harmony curriculum to the current rudiments one, which means I'd be missing some concepts. eek
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#1444436 - 05/27/10 12:26 AM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: GYABEAUX]
MomOfBeginners Offline
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Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 110
Loc: California, USA
Hmmm...now you're really testing my memory.

Grade 3 history covered classical and romantic periods. I'd say it's equivalent to half of a high school world history class. Yes, it's memorization. But it's memorization in the context of pieces of music and composers, so you actually feel like you get to know the composer and the select pieces he or she wrote. Just like in world history where there's memorization, but you remember dates and events based on a big movement of some thoughts. You need to take the time to listen to the pieces to internalize them and understand them.

Grade 3 harmony - probably equivalent to a grade 11 (canadian) math class. I guess depending on how well established your ear training is, it can be really fun. Wonderful teacher.

Were they intensive? No. I took them one summer during high school, just the two classes, and they were fun. But that's all I did that summer.

I took Grade 4 history and harmony (2 classes) over a school year alongside my university engineering classes. They were fun, and very easy compared to the classes I was taking in the university. Not so wonderful teacher - so it was more challenging. Conservatory is on same campus as university buildings, so there wasn't much of a commute.

Grade 5 classes (counterpoint, analysis, history - I think) are more of the same.

Intensive? I didn't feel that way. Memorization and cramming? Not really. I think if you cram, you lose the whole point of the course.

My point: It's do-able. It can be fun. Teacher makes a big difference. What you get out of it depends on the individual.
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#1444988 - 05/27/10 07:00 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: MomOfBeginners]
Selah411 Offline
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Registered: 05/08/10
Posts: 27
Thanks Mom of Two... That was helpful!
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#1445511 - 05/28/10 03:37 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: Selah411]
tdow Offline
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Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
Have you looked into the Sound Advice series? They combine theory and ear training and state that they are able to prep for:
RCM Examinations
National Music Certificate Program (NMCP)
Certificate of Merit (Music Teachers’ Association of California)
Victoria Conservatory of Music
National Guild of Piano Teachers
The curricula of most MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) affiliates

Published by Frederick Harris and the website is www.soundadvicedirect.com
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#1445545 - 05/28/10 04:52 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: tdow]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
Sound Advice gives the theory rudiments (not harmony) which used to be given in one book (and still is) It also includes the ear training that forms part of the practical exam. Those rudiments are a prerequisite for being able to follow the harmony theory (3 levels) that follow, but you would not be able to prepare for the RCM harmony exam at even the lowest level using S.A. It would not teach music history at all.

I haven't written in because I am a student, but I did all three levels of the RCM rudiments exams and am studying harmony theory currently.

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#1445715 - 05/28/10 10:04 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: keystring]
Selah411 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/08/10
Posts: 27
Oh yeah, keystring? What book are you using. I'm really really wavering on which book to buy:
1. Harmony by Mark Sarnecki
http://www.amazon.com/Harmony-Mark-Sarne...8039&sr=1-1
2. The Basics of Harmony by Grace Vandendool
http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/The-Basics-of-Harmony/4941541
3. Materials of Western Music by Andrews and Sclater
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1551220...TDCY79QMF1J361Y
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#1445924 - 05/29/10 09:55 AM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: Selah411]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
In answering, I'll stress that I'm an adult student, not a music teacher. I've had to take a break in lessons while rebuilding but have continued on my own. For harmony, my teacher had approved of Horwood's "Basic Harmony" which is the first book I used. I had asked at the store (described elow) for something that was more thorough than the modern student might want, then brought it in for approval. I would not recommend that one for most students because it is dry and condensed - written in the 1940's for a mentality that doesn't exist much anymore (so I'm told). I liked the groundwork that it set up in the first chapters: before doing any harmony you became famiiar with single types of chords such as IV or iii of any degree, made endless arrangements of how you might put that chord down on paper while still respecting vocal ranges. I have that as "part of me" and it made later work easier. It's tedious, though. Horwood also has a way of summarizing things in later chapters that leaves our head swimming.

Sarnecki - one of the two in your list - I've had for a few months. It was recommended by Kreisler. It is straightforward, clear and logical. It introduces things in an approachable manner, divides a theme into smaller bits so that you can have a handle on the whole thing. It summarizes wonderfully at the end of each chapter. Every 4 or 5 chapters there is also analysis of pieces (which is something you do in the exam). I like it. At the time of purchasing it I also asked at the store, which is used by all teachers and schools and has advanced music students and such on staff. The person I spoke to recommended Sarnecki for its clarity etc.

Materials of Western Music which is in your list - I stumbled on it 3 weeks ago: love at first sight and we've been together ever since. cool It's good to have both books, but if having only one I'd want Sarnecki which is more pragmatic. To become a musician and understand how music works I really, really like WM. For example, it explains how the scale is composed of these tetrachords and what that means. Currently I am playing "up 4, down 5" in every existing key (working up to it) which effectively gives you: I IV vii iii vi ii V I, sequences in music, (and the basis of the Pachelbel Canon). It gives me why and how things work.

MWM tends to have one degree chord as theme in each chapter, and explore within that theme. It expects the student to be able to play piano, sight read, and sight sing because you are asked to play the examples. There are many, many examples from a variety of music. These can be explored in some depth. I have a feeling that if I were a teacher I would want to have MWM as my own own resource for ideas and insights.

In conclusion I think the combination of Western Music and Sarnecki is awesom, but Sarnecki probably gives what is needed for the exam more immediately.

(Oh, I'm also a trained teacher - just not in music - so I tend to take materials apart this way.)

I am not familiar with G. Vandendool's book.
------------------
I don't think I would want to do several exams in one shot because my knowledge might end up superficial. That might bite me in the rear at the next exam level. I am poor in memorizing names so I would not want to do the history exam early, but that's me.

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#1445996 - 05/29/10 11:38 AM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: keystring]
Selah411 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/08/10
Posts: 27
Keystring - VERY helpful. I think I will do just that - get both books. Questions: Do they come with answer books?
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#1446029 - 05/29/10 12:10 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: Selah411]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11166
Loc: Canada
I've sent a PM. I think I might have seen an answer book. A lot of the MWM involves your own free composition following the principles so there is no one answer. The Sarnecki is much more restricted and technical so there would be definite answers (and I imagine an answer book). I have a feeling that the MWM might be a resource for a teacher to draw on.

One thing that I liked about MWM is that it stressed listening. Harmony theory can become like algebra where you shove notes around according to rules.

MWM starts with examples of music which it asks you to play and listen for certain things. Later on when you are asked to create small melodies, applying some principles, you have the example of a dozen varied pieces to give ideas.

There is also an avenue to music history for the Common Practice period. (learning/teaching strategy). I.e. in one section introducing passing notes there are small excerpts from Couperin, Beethoven, Scarlatti, Mendelssohn, Wilbye. After playing, I google each composer and read about him. I google the genre. I listen to the whole piece or movement while reading the score for my excerpt. You can draw a lot out of this.

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#1446754 - 05/30/10 05:56 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: MomOfBeginners]
Elizabeth_Bennet Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/09
Posts: 139
Originally Posted By: MomOfBeginners


Grade 3 history covered classical and romantic periods.


RCM has changed the theory curriculum drastically! Grade 3 History is now called "An Overview" and it covers Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century. As a result, it is a longer and more difficult course than before, according to most teachers and students I know. The number of facts you have to know extremely well (e.g. composer's birth and death dates, opus numbers, key and tempo markings of required pieces) has been expanded.

Grade 4 History covers Middle Ages to Classical in detail. What makes this exam so difficult is the 20-mark essay question either on the development of the symphony or the development of opera that inevitably comes up on the exam.

Grade 5 History covers Romantic and 20th century music in detail. I have not taken this exam yet, so I can't offer any insight into its difficulty.

I don't really recommend taking more than two theory subjects at a time. In particular, it is rather unwise to attempt Harmony 4 and Counterpoint at the same time, along with Grade 4 History - these courses, in my humble opinion, are rather intense and require some time to understand well.

I'm just a student, so I may not have the wisest opinion on theory courses... but I do know how hard it is to tackle more than one RCM exam at the same time!



Edited by Elizabeth_Bennet (05/30/10 05:57 PM)
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#1446862 - 05/30/10 07:53 PM Re: Harmony and History Exams (RCM or NMCP) [Re: Elizabeth_Bennet]
Selah411 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/08/10
Posts: 27
Hi Elizabeth... Did your history textbook reflect the changes of the exam requirements? Which textbook did you use?

Most helpful, Elizabeth! Thanks
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