The Royal Conservatory of Music has released a new piano syllabus and edition of their Celebration Series books. My students and I have been previewing the new material all week as we look ahead to next season. There are exciting changes coming.

The Repertoire contains more compositions by modern composers. An excellent selection of pieces from the masters in the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras is presented with only a few carryovers from the last edition. There are also many new selections in the Etudes books.

The number of technical items required for an exam have been reduced in order to allow for an increase in the Musicianship skills.

The 4 Star Sight & Ear books have been completely revised to contain the new requirements. For ear training, all homework questions are now available online at rcmusic.ca. The access code is included in each 4 Star book. Some highlights:

  • Intervals for each grade may be asked in either direction.
  • Chord identification has been updated to include augmented chords.
  • Instead of identifying just cadences at the end of a short melody, students will identify the full chord progression.
  • Rhythm clapback and melody playback questions have been revamped so they are both combined in the same melody, and the student will hear the melody three times. Questions are in a new selection of major and minor keys.

Sight reading has also been revamped with an emphasis on the ability to tap a steady beat while speaking, tapping, or clapping the rhythm.

As I look over the new requirements, I am pleased with how well positioned my students are to make the changeover. We already use solfege, takadimi, and many keyboard harmony principles in our lessons that go beyond the syllabus requirements  My only regret is that the technical lists had to be trimmed to make room for the new musicianship skills. But, we’ll likely go beyond the syllabus requirements in that area as well in order to grow well-rounded musicians.