TTTV031: RCM exams with Elaine Rusk

rcm exams elaine rusk

As part of practice and motivation month at,  today we’re taking a closer look at the RCM exams. Exams can be a great motivator for students, if used wisely.

Having an upcoming exam can lead to a big spike in student practice times. Of course we don’t want students only working when there’s an exam on the horizon, but if structured carefully, exams can be a great tool in your teaching toolkit.

Elaine Rusk

The RCM has been around since 1886, with more than 5 million alumni. Elaine Rusk has been working with the RCM (AKA The Music Development Program in the USA) for the past 19 years, and she’s here today to give us the scoop on all things RCM.

Some of the highlights of the RCM exams include diverse repertoire lists, published repertoire books, and a whole host of resources available for free online. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of today’s podcast, even if you don’t use the RCM exams in your studio, so have a listen for an inside look at one of the world’s biggest exam systems.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The philosophy behind the RCM exam system
  • How the RCM piano exams are structured
  • How to avoid students studying only exam pieces
  • What teacher qualifications are available with the RCM
  • How the examiners are trained with the RCM
  • What the RCM does to encourage memorisation
  • How to transition from another exam system to RCM

Items mentioned in this podcast:

Thank you for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.

Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.

Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please share it by using the social media buttons on the left of the page.

Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes. Reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to show’s ranking and you can bet that I read every single one of them personally.

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live.

Have you used the RCM exams with your students?

Was there any particular aspect of these exams that appealed to you? Do you have any questions for Elaine about the RCM? Please comment below and I’ll pass along your queries to Elaine.

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