Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Examinations

Here at the Royal Academy of Arts and Education we prepare our students for Royal Conservatory examinations for various reasons.  I would like to take this opportunity to explain to our patrons why we cover RCM material and why we feel that it is important for our students to work through the RCM grading system.  I have compiled some of the most commonly asked questions about the RCM and have answered them below, if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me at or 905-877-5814. I hope this will provide you all with a clear understanding of the RCM and the goals we have in place for our students.  I believe all our students are special and the skills we teach them will aid them in their futures.  It isn’t only about learning how to play an instrument, it’s about pride, confidence and dedication, qualities we hope all our students develop in their lessons.    


Sabrina Corker
Music Director and Part Owner

"Music, Art, Tutoring - Done right!"

What is The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM)?

The Royal Conservatory is the oldest and largest independent arts educator in Canada. The Royal Conservatory has provided the finest music and arts education to millions of Canadians in virtually every community in the country for almost 123 years. Every year, 500,000 people in 300 communities participate in its programs. The RCM is considered the “gold standard” in many countries including China and the United States. Much like the Royal Academy its goal is to develop human potential through music and the arts.

Why is covering RCM material important?

The RCM material mainly focuses on classical music; this is a great base or starting point for any musical student. If the student chooses to then explore other genres, the classical training works as a solid foundation.

Do students have to complete the RCM examination?

Most of the students at the Royal Academy who are working through RCM material do complete their exams. However, we do have students that choose to complete the material but do not perform any examinations. This is a decision to be made by the student and their parents. Our mission at the Royal Academy is to present all the options to our students and it is the parent’s final decision as to what is to be completed by the student.

What are the benefits of completing the RCM examinations?

There are many benefits to completing the RCM examinations.  Firstly, it builds confidence in the students and there is a sense of pride when a student successfully completes an exam and they receive their certificate.

Secondly, the feedback from the examiner can be valuable. Every student receives a final mark but they will also receive written feedback from the examiner.  These comments can be used in future lessons to further develop the student’s skills. 

Thirdly, students who do participate in the examinations tend to be more dedicated to their instrument and practice more.  The exam sets a goal for the students thus giving them something to work towards.

Fourthly, when a student completes their Grade 8 Practical (playing exam) and Grade 2 Theory (written exam) certificates they can receive a credit towards their high school diploma and start teaching beginners themselves.

If my child does RCM, can they cover other material?

Absolutely, we have an open curriculum at The Royal Academy. We have many students who dabble in other genres as well as prepare for their examinations?

When should I expect my child to transfer from their beginner books to RCM?

Every child is unique, and that is why we provide private lessons for our students. It really depends on how old the student is and how much they practice. A student who starts an instrument at age 9 and practices regularly is going to move into the RCM sooner than a 5 year old student. It is up to your child’s teacher to advise you when they feel your child is ready to make the transition.

When do the exams take place?

Practical exams (playing exams) take place every January, June and August.  The RCM now has an on line tool to register students for their exams.  Registration usually takes place about four months before the examination session.  The RCM sets up examination centers all over Canada in order to reach more students.  For students in our area, there are centers set up in Brampton, Milton and Guelph.

Theory exams (written exams) take place every December, May and August.  We usually set up group classes to prepare the students for their Theory exams, and are usually not required until the student is preparing for their grade 5 practical exam.

What if my child has a negative experience at the exam?

Our goal is for our students to always have a positive experience; however, sometimes it is out of our control. We have received complaints in the past about inadequate instruments at an examination center. If anything transpired that you or your child felt did not live up to your standards, we encourage you to inform us so we can put forth a formal complaint to the RCM.

Which instruments does the RCM run testing for?

The RCM provides testing for the following instruments, piano, voice, violin, classical guitar, woodwind and brass. The majority of our students perform exams in piano, voice and violin.

Is the RCM only for children?

Absolutely not, we have had many adult students that went on to complete their examinations. We are willing to teach and guide anyone who wants to learn.