RCM Practical Exams Now Online

Published April 9, 2020

With the current COVID epidemic there has been a seismic shift to online education. Although online practical exams with the Royal Conservatory of Music have been in development for over a year, no doubt the climate of physical distancing has accelerated the availability of this option.

What does this mean?

All students enrolled in practical examinations received an email outlining this new method of examinations. Here are some of the important details:

  • Online examinations will be available to candidates of all levels
  • The examinations will be conducted through Zoom
  • Candidates playing repertoire requiring accompaniment will need their accompanist at the location of the exam
  • Piano candidates up to Level 8 may use a digital piano with at least 76 weighted keys in lieu of an acoustic piano
  • Piano candidates in Levels 9 and up must use an acoustic piano
  • Candidates in Levels 9 and up will record performances of repertoire and etudes and upload them to YouTube in lieu of a live performance
  • Technique, ear training, and sight reading will be conducted live through Zoom for all levels
  • Sight reading excerpts will be given to candidates 24 hours in advance and may be prepared prior to the live examination

For further details regarding your particular instrument, please contact the RCM

Will in person exams still be offered?

In person examinations will continue to be offered once the physical distancing protocol has been lifted. The procedure for registering and taking these exams will not change.

Should I take my exam online or wait until the in-person exams are back?

This will depend on what you feel most comfortable doing. In order for an online exam to be successful, you would need a good instrument that is in tune as well as a quiet environment and a stable high-speed internet connection. If your home doesn’t afford you this environment, then your teacher, a relative, or a friend may be willing to help you out.

In my opinion, there is no reason to not at the very least seriously consider the online format if not abandon consideration of in-person exams altogether. It’s great to see the RCM embrace technology in ways consistent with the trajectory of modern times. In fact, I believe this is the beginning of the end of in-person examinations. This is a way for the RCM to offer more appealing ways of taking exams and encourage students who would not normally consider an exam to register for one all while lowering costs and bringing more work to dedicated examiners. Plus, you get to prepare sight reading in advance!

What about theory exams?

At present, we are awaiting an update from the RCM regarding theory exam format and availability online. I fully expect the theory component to be hand-in-hand with the practical component as we enter into this unprecedented acceptance of technology in examination administration. It is only a matter of time before all theory exams are taken online.