Piano Study Curriculum

I teach the official Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory The Achievement Program, which is also known as Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) in Canada. To learn more about the program, please visit this Wikipedia link.

"The Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program provides a recognized national standard of musical success through an effectively sequenced course of study from beginner to advanced levels. The Achievement Program inspires excellence through individual student assessments and allows students to celebrate accomplishment and track their progress with others across the country."

At each grade, students can participate in the Piano exam, which includes repertoire performance, technical requirements, sight reading and ear training.

In recent years, of all my students who took The Achievement Program or RCM piano exams, nearly everyone achieved Honor or First Class Honor standing.

Piano Study - Beginning Level

At this level, students learn keyboard geography, the basic fundamentals of note-reading and rhythm, and articulation. Students continue their exploration of the keyboard, articulation, and tone color while moving away from the five-finger position. One octave legato scales, contrary motion scales, and triads in first inversion support the technical challenges found in the repertoire. Pieces include traditional favorites from the early pedagogical repertoire, along with more contemporary styles. John Thompson series, along with Beyer, provide a comprehensive step-by-step course specifically designed to suit the needs of all children beginning the piano.


 Piano Study - Grade 1

Students at the Grade 1 level are introduced to elements of Baroque and early Classical style through binary and ternary dance forms. Character pieces help students develop their creativity and imagination. Inventions develop hand independence, supported further with scale and triad technique.

Piano Study - Grade 2

Students at the Grade 2 level continue to explore various historical styles. Character pieces allow for exploration of pedaling, expression, and balance of tone. Scales played hands together, including the formula pattern, are introduced to help candidates achieve facility with this repertoire.

Piano Study - Grade 3

At Grade 3 level, students continue to explore Baroque dances as well as two- and three-part forms. Students will be introduced to the Classical sonatina and its characteristic figures: scale passages, cadence patterns, and accompaniment styles.

Piano Study - Grade 4

At Grade 4 level, students are exposed to new accompaniment styles, independent in Baroque repertoire, and an array of figurations in Classical sonatina. Selections from the Romantic period focus on melody, balance, and expression, while those of the contemporary era offer interesting rhythmic challenges. The technical requirements are expanded to include arpeggios, and cadences at the ends of triads.

Piano Study - Grade 5

At Grade5 level, students encounter longer and more varied forms as well as ornamentation, thicker harmonic textures, and an increasingly sophisticated interplay of melody and accompaniment. Technical requirements expand the candidate's harmonic vocabulary to include dominant 7th and diminished 7th chords.

Piano Study - Grade 6

At Grade 6 level, candidates explore intermediate-level repertoire from the major style periods. Challenges include the control of polyphonic textures, command of temp in longer sonatina movements, and the incorporation of rubato in Romantic repertoire. Technical requirements include the four-note broken chord and dominant 7th and diminished 7th arpeggios.

Piano Study - Grade 7

The Grade 7 level is an important transitional point in a student's musical development. The Baroque repertoire selections require independence of the hands and ease with ornamentation. The Classical sonatinas demand fluency of rhythmic and technical elements. Pedaling becomes integral to the performance of lyrical Romantic repertoire, and chromaticism, modality, changing meters, and dynamic extremes accompany the post-1900 repertoire.

Piano Study - Grade 8

By the Grade 8 level, students have been exposed to repertoire from four historical style periods. From this level onwards, candidates encounter masterworks of the pianist's core repertoire. A greater command of texture and increased stylistic refinement will help candidates meet the technical and interpretive demands of this level.

Piano Study - Grade 9

Reaching the Grade 9 level is a considerable accomplishment that brings new musical demands for the hand, ear, and mind: thick textures, delicate balances, and subtle articulations, as well as complex harmonies and forms. Baroque three-part contrapuntal works, larger-scale Classical sonata movements, and Romantic and contemporary character pieces all present candidates with a wide range of challenges and rewards.

Piano Study - Grade 10

Grade 10 students are challenged an rewarded with repertoire by the greatest composers of the piano literature. Three- and four-part contrapuntal texture, contrasting movements of Classical sonatas, and more technically and interpretively demanding Romantic and contemporary character pieces from the basis of candidates' developing artistry.
Subpages (1): The Achievement Program