The Royal Conservatory of Music has released a new theory syllabus and textbooks. My books just arrived and I have had a first read-through. I am excited about the direction things are going! There are now theory books that correspond to every piano level – from Preparatory to ARCT – organized into these categories:

  • Elementary theory - Preparatory, Levels 1-4
  • Intermediate theory – Levels 5-8
  • Advanced theory – Levels 9-ARCT

Some highlights:

  • While the theory books have been expanded to the Elementary levels, no exams are required at Preparatory and up to Level 4 to earn a practical certificate.
  • Elementary and Intermediate levels now include guided listening in music history/appreciation.
  • Elementary and Intermediate levels include melody writing to inspire creativity.
  • Advanced harmony levels have the important concept of counterpoint woven throughout.
  • Level 9 Harmony [formerly Basic Harmony] is now a required exam, in order to build a strong foundation.

I’ve seen a package of sample exams in the new format, and in December 2016 the new textbooks for Levels 9-ARCT harmony and history will be released. RCM allows a crossover period this year while we get up to speed on the new requirements. As before, co-requisite theory exams must be completed before or within five years after the original practical examination date.