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#934838 - 11/07/06 08:31 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
Codetta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 132
Loc: Chino Hills, CA
grandpiano: I'm a bit confused as to what you consider "very low" technique standards for passing CM. In studying the ABRSM requirements (and I couldn't find any RCM requirements so I don't know enough to comment on them)) I noticed that they don't seemed to be as inclusive as CM, overall. Each CM level has a set standard of requirements that are to be accomplished and played within a certain time limit according to the level proficiency. The student is graded on scales, chords, progressions, optional improvisation as well as sight reading - all within the set time limit. In the sight-reading portion elements such as rhythm, recognition of key signature, accuracy of notes, phrasing and dynamics are graded as well as overall musicality. There are 5 categories in which to grade the student: Excellent, Good, Average, Weak, Incomplete. Those students who have a achieved a high rating (this also includes their performance scores, technique and theory scores)will then be featured at the Branch Honors Recital where they are honored for their achievement. The student is also eligible to perform at the annual MTAC State Convention. This is a high honor, for only about 10% of the 30,000 CM participants are eligible to apply.

I believe the CM program is a VERY comprehensive program and allows both the student and teacher to "set their own pace".

When a student has successfully passed all CM requirements there is a program called THE YOUNG ARTIST'S Guild. These students are the cream of the crop and are put on a 5 year list where they can be asked to perform for any branch throughout the state and get paid for it. This is and has been a great stepping stone to help in the launching of a career.

If you want to know more I will once again direct you to the MTAC website where you can read all of this for yourself:

www.mtac.org

CM is a very good program and I highly recommend it. I hope this answers your questions and alleviates any more doubts you may have regarding this program.
_________________________
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

Private Piano Teacher
Member: Music Teachers' Association of California
Evaluator: Certificate of Merit
Organist/Pianist: Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina

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#934839 - 11/08/06 04:56 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
drumour Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 829
Loc: Scotland
"Each CM level has a set standard of requirements that are to be accomplished and played within a certain time limit according to the level proficiency."


Would you please explain this time-limit idea?


John
_________________________
Vasa inania multum strepunt.

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#934840 - 11/08/06 12:19 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
Codetta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 132
Loc: Chino Hills, CA
Because there are so many students who participate within each branch there has to be a time limit allowed so that everyone can be heard, otherwise we'd be there all day and every day for weeks on end (as would the parents). Now, there is no time limit for the theory portion of the exam. A student can come in at 9am and be there all day if needed but the performance evaluation has to maintain some kind of schedule (just as what happens in juries at the college level). Evaluation time limits for technique, sight reading and repertoire are set to help the entire procedure to remain on schedule. The total time allotted is as follows:
Prep - Level 2: 10 minutes
Level 3-5: 15 minutes
Level 6-9: 30 minutes
Advanced Level: 30 minutes

The technique requirements vary according to level within that total allotted time frame.
Prep - Level 5: 4 min
Level 6 - 9: 5 min

If a student is prepared there is ample time to perform all the elements. Its rather obvious for the evaluator to ascertain whether or not a student is prepared and can perform all the technique at a proficient level. Now don't get me wrong - we understand how nervous the student is so if the technique takes a few seconds longer its not held against them. I think you know what I mean. We just want the student to demonstrate proficiency at that level so that he/she can pass to the next level.
_________________________
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

Private Piano Teacher
Member: Music Teachers' Association of California
Evaluator: Certificate of Merit
Organist/Pianist: Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina

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#934841 - 11/08/06 03:25 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
grandpiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 10
Codetta: I didn't mean to say CM has a low standard. I had listened to some of the MIDI recordings played at the convention by children as young as under 12, and boy they played like a pro!

However, I have seen children who have passed Level 5 or higher but played so terribly. This makes me wonder whether CM has a very low passing score (or very easy scoring) for performance so that most students can pass it. After all, it is a very subjective part of the exam.

I know one parent who just want his son to pass all levels of CM before he enters high school. He has made it very clear to the teacher that he doesn't care how well his son plays. Just get him (barely) pass the levels. It's doable with CM.

Have you administered any CM performance exams? Have you seen a wide range of skills in technique among students at the same level to the point that some are 1-2 levels above the others?

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#934842 - 11/08/06 04:34 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
Codetta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 132
Loc: Chino Hills, CA
Thanks for responding. Now I better know where you're coming from. Unfortunately there are some parents who have this crazy expectation about passing all CM levels. That's where the teacher and evaluator need to step in - most sensitively and lovingly - and point out the harm that can be done.

Unfortuntely there are and always will be parents/teachers/evaluators who are in it for the wrong reason. And who suffers the consequences????/ The student, of course. I've also heard some rather "interesting" interpretations both at the branch level and unfortunately at the Convention in performance. As far as a parent with high expectations regardless of proficiency - "just get him to pass the levels" : if that were my student I would take the parents aside and really "talk turkey" with them. Somewhere along the line this parent may have adopted a skewed version of what CM means and what it aims to accomplish.

With that being said, there are some teachers who play around with the rules also by advancing a student WELL before he's ready - or playing around with the required repertoire list. This is all done to make THE TEACHER look good in the eyes of their peers. But, we all know this happens in every program to some degree - CM not being the only place.

CM is revamping the program by placing stricter regulations on the evaluators and how they evaluate a student. This takes time - and in the process, hopefully some evaluators will see the need to bow out of the system and/or retire. A new syllabus is in the works and I've suggested to some members of the board to perhaps make the syllabus available online. There seems to be some interest there so we'll just have to wait and see.

Yes, I've been around the CM exams for many years and have seen a wide range of skills. If, and I say IF, the student is motivated to take CM to the highest level, then there is ample opportunity to do so. IF that student is not qualified to do so, believe me, he will be stopped from doing so.

Have I helped at all?
_________________________
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

Private Piano Teacher
Member: Music Teachers' Association of California
Evaluator: Certificate of Merit
Organist/Pianist: Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina

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#934843 - 11/12/06 03:19 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
aznxboy1228 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/06
Posts: 49
Loc: California
Personally, as a student that has taken both CM (Made panel honors last year, going for YAG this year)and ABRSM, I find ABRSM's standard to be much higher and more comprehensive.

ABRSM tests a student on three prepared pieces, TONS of scales and arpeggios, difficult "ear training," and sightreading. CM tests four prepared pieces, a few scales, arpeggios, or an etude, and some reading.

Now, in 2003, I took ABRSM Grade 8 and CM Level 9. I scored a 100/150 (the exact passing mark) for ABRSM, but for CM, I passed and was selected for the convention and branch recital (in addition, the adjudicator said that I was extremely talented and an amazing pianist, but I wasn't really).

The scales and arpeggios for ABRSM are much harder than CM's. For CM, I might've only practiced them a few times. For ABRSM, I would sometimes spend an entire session just working on scales and arpeggios. Likewise, sightreading for CM was very easy for me, but I was completely dominated by the ABRSM one. Aural training for ABSRM was so difficult for me...I had no chance on anything (I guessed on everything). Ear training for CM was pretty easy...its just differentating between types of chords and intervals and rhythms, much simpler than ABRSM.

I find that the standard of performance to pass ABRSM is higher too. One cannot just try to "beat the system" and achieve all the levels quickly, whereas this is doable under CM. In my opinion, the "average Joe" that practices two hours a week can pass CM, but definitely not ABRSM.

I hope this helps. If I don't make sense, its because its really late and i'm tired. Good night.

-ASC

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#934844 - 11/13/06 03:23 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
grandpiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 10
What you have said about ABRSM is in line with what I read online. (Unlike CM, ABRSM has posted its syllabi online.)

Have you been studying under two teachers, one of which is a memeber of MTAC and the other of ABRSM? How do you find an ABRSM teacher in California?

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#934845 - 11/13/06 06:03 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
I wonder if the standard required to pass ABRSM exams varies depending on where you live. I feel that in the UK the standard is not always that high. I have seen many people who 'beat the system'. They know that as long as they make a reasonable job of the three pieces they have a very good chance of passing. The supporting tests (scales, sight reading and aural) are often not taken seriously. If your sight reading is terrible you will still get a mark of around 10/21. If it's quite good you might score 15/21. No disrespect to aznxboy1228 but he said he had no idea in the aural tests but still passed. I would like to see a requirement to at least pass each part of the test. This is how the ABRSM diploma exams work so why not the other grades? This may of course be different in other parts of the world.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#934846 - 11/18/06 01:14 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
starsea49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 77
This is my very personal opinion - certainly not designed to offend anyone ...

Having taken all these exams myself, having entered students into these exams for the past 10 years in UK, Malaysia, Singapore and currently USA ...i must say, US students are the most laid back
.... pampered with too much words of affection without having done too much .... there's very little structure here ... education is too much fun here !!!

I was so frustrated with the standards of
education in this country when i first moved here 2 years ago .... sustaining interests is always the first priority as opposed to imparting quality skills which requires the student to work really hard with discipline..

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#934847 - 11/18/06 01:17 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
starsea49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 77
Of course, there are a few exceptions here and there .... anyzboy and one or 2 of my 30 handful students are some prime examples.

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#934848 - 11/18/06 01:23 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
starsea49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 77
Chris H - you are right - you can pretty beat the ABRSM exam with some effort on the 3 pieces and scales and arpegios.

And i'm with you on this one - annzboyy - one could easily spend an entire lesson on the scales and arpegios of ABRSM.

With the other boards though, beating the pass mark requires NO effort at all!!!!

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#934849 - 11/22/06 05:21 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
Codetta Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 132
Loc: Chino Hills, CA
starsea - in your first post you said you didn't want to offend anyone. I will take you at your word, however, I was offended when you said that "with the other boards though, beating the pass mark requires NO effort at all!!!!" I would take issue with your other broad sweeping statements of our students in the USA and the structure here, but I will focus on your last statement due to my many time constraints.

Please explain your criteria and from what country you came from, i.e. the curriculum, structure, mode of discipline, etc. . It sounds like your home country may have had much stricter guidelines than the USA - for good or not.
_________________________
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

Private Piano Teacher
Member: Music Teachers' Association of California
Evaluator: Certificate of Merit
Organist/Pianist: Christ Lutheran Church, West Covina

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#934850 - 11/25/06 12:39 PM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
starsea49 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/06
Posts: 77
I came from Singapore ..when i mentioned ""passing other boards requires no effort at all" - i meant after going through the rigorous training of ABRSM-most students can cake-walk pieces of other boards .... playing at ABRSM's sight-reading level would still guarantee a pass at other boards exams

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#934851 - 12/07/06 12:19 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
lagin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/06
Posts: 146
Loc: B.C., Canada
Well, I'm only really familiar with RCM, so I'll touch on a few points that have been mentioned. Someone said that gr. 5 ABRSM is equivalent to gr. 2 RCM. This might be true, but let me clarify. RCM has 10 "practical" grades and then diploma level, but only 5 "theory" grades. Meaning, you don't do gr. 2 theory with RCM until you are doing about gr. 8 pieces. They hold off on the theory until about gr. 6. Then they hit you with it big time in grades 9, 10, and ARCT (diploma). Theory grades 1 - 2 is basic key signature, transpostion, intervals, ect. Grade 3 theory (paired up with grade 9 practical) introduces harmony and history. (Actually, there is an introduction to harmony paired with grade 8, but it's optional). Grade 10 practical is paired with grade 4 theory, which continues harmony and history. Then in ARCT all of a sudden, you need to finish harmony, and history, learn counterpoint, and analysis.

RCM grade 10 and up is considered "audition" level for colleges and universities.

Over the course of grades 1 - 8 you learn scales, chords, and arpeggios in almost every key, and grade 9 is the first grade that you have to be prepared to play any technical requirement in any key for them. Grade 10 adds scales in 3rds and 6ths. There is a minimum tempo required that increased with each grade.

They publish books that have a good selection of exam pieces in them, but you can use any piece out of the syllabus. The more advanced the grade, the more choices. There are hundreds of choices for ARCT. Most Beethoven Sonatas, most Chopin Nocturnes, ect.

You need to play your pieces memorized in the exam for full marks, and automatically fail in ARCT if you use the music. Grades 1 - 9 have marks alloted for memory. Grade 10 just takes marks off your pieces if they aren't memorized. And for a performer's ARCT, you simply fail if you don't memorize.

You need to usually do 3 pieces and 1 or 2 studies for each of the earlier grades. Grade 8 is four pieces and 2 studies - so is grade 9. Grade ten is 5 pieces, and 2 studies. Performer's ARCT is 5 pieces and one Etude. A piece from each era - Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Early 20th century, and Late 20th Century. A classical piece is usually a Sonatina or such for grades 1 - 7 ish. A movement from a sonata for grade 8 and 9. Two or possibly 3 movements for grade 10 (usually just 2, though). And a whole sonata for grade 9.

RCM differs from ABRSM in that the pieces in each grade do not overlap. Meaning, you will not find a ARCT piece in the grade 10 syllabus and visa versa. The standard of playing increases, and so does the difficulty of the repertoire. I am led to understand that there is some overlap in ABRSM with various pieces.

ARCT performers (as opposed to teachers) only has pieces and the etude. No technique, sight reading, sight clapping, or ear tests. Yipee! Teacher's ARCT sure does though!

Examples:

Fur Elise = gr. 7
Chopin nocturnes start in gr. 9
Debussy's Girl with Flaxen hair = gr. 9
Pathetique sonata (middle movement and either first or third) = gr. 10
Ranging in difficulty from say Moonlight Sonata (all movements) to Hammerklavier = ARCT. I know. It's insane. Nobody would pick the Hammerklavier anyway because you need to keep it under an hour. Why they even put that on there is beyond me. But as you can see, there is a large range. Another example would be Debussy's Sunken Cathedral to say Chopin's Ballades and Scherzos. So you can take your pick for where you are at musically and technically.
_________________________
Christians aren't perfect; just forgiven.

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#934852 - 12/07/06 07:30 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
LoFi Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 7
Loc: UK
I was going to comment on the RCM Grade 2 Theory = ABRSM 5 statement, given lagin's post about the content of RCM G2 - my initial thought was "No way, AB G5 was much harder than that".

However, looking at the syllabus on the AB's website, the requirement to harmonize a given phrase (probably one of the harder tests) seems to have been removed/shuffled to grade 6.

Given that it's been about 15 years since I took that exam, am I simply making it up, or has the syllabus become easier? I wonder if someone that's been teaching a long time can respond.

Also, re an earlier post about the A,B and C selections in the Associated Board syllabus - as a child, it was always the contemporary piece that I struggled to "get" and as a result, scored lower on this piece - I was quite happy rattling out Mozart and Scarlatti.

Finally (and this experience is purely as a student of several instruments, not as a teacher (I guess I shouldn't even be in here)), I found Trinity College exams significantly easier than AB. Guildhall I found to be much on a par with AB, but their "Practical Musicianship" option was more suited to me than standard aural tests. Whether it was easier is another matter.

Ramble over.

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#934853 - 12/07/06 07:44 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2837
Loc: UK.
LoFi, I think you are right, the standard of AB exams has dropped over the years. When I took my grade 8 many years ago I had to play an entire classical sonata. Now you only need to play one movement.

Regarding the G5 theory. I think this exam covers the rudiments of theory without testing much on their practical application. If you look at a G6 paper you will see a huge difference. The advanced grades focus on harmony, counterpoint and music history. You do have to suggest chords to harmonise a melody at G5 but it is very basic.

What you say about the pieces is interesting. The C list nowadays will always have a jazzy piece which most students choose. Perhaps your teacher made you do one of the more contemporary works to stretch you? I don't have a huge problem with the choice of pieces but they will certainly not suit everyone.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#934854 - 12/07/06 08:56 AM Re: Piano Exams: RCM vs ABRSM vs CM
LoFi Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 7
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
What you say about the pieces is interesting. The C list nowadays will always have a jazzy piece which most students choose. Perhaps your teacher made you do one of the more contemporary works to stretch you? I don't have a huge problem with the choice of pieces but they will certainly not suit everyone. [/b]
I don't remember there being any jazzy pieces on the syllabus (certainly never played any in exams), but my memory could be fading (sat Grade 8 about 10 years ago) - these days, a piece like that would be my first choice, since I spend about half my time playing jazz. It's very possible he was trying to stretch me, as at the time all I was really interested in was playing the flashy movts from various Beethoven sonatas.

Still am, actually \:\)

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