1) Question: Do I need to fill out an application form for performance and musicianship if both are being tried at the same session?
Yes, please fill out two application forms.
2) Question: While I appreciate CNCM's "open" repertoire for exam choices, I would like some assistance in determining the right grade level for pieces that are not graded elsewhere.
The beauty of this option is that teachers are now able to tailor an exam program specifically for each student. When deciding on appropriate grade levels, think of other pieces, which you know to be at that particular grade. Also take into consideration the technical requirements of that grade as well as your student's capabilities and comfort zone. When in doubt, teachers are always welcome to contact CNCM for guidance, either by email or phone.
Piano Examination Questions
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1) Question: I had a Grade 1 student who played Haydn as a Baroque selection, and we received a comment on the exam form about her Baroque choice. In selecting repertoire for exams, should we be selecting "style" or composers by date?
It is realized that some schools go by List A, B, C, etc, but even within those lists they combine a couple of eras and time periods. Haydn is considered a Classical composer, even if listed under a List A selection with other schools. If a piece by a classical composer is in the style of the Baroque period, then the student could make this connection in their introduction to the piece. This happens a lot with W.A. Mozart as well, where some conservatories will list his minuets as a List A piece. For CNCM, the student would need to explain why it is being played as a Baroque piece e.g. "it's in the style of the Baroque minuets." The student could give a bit of history of the Minuet and tie it together with their selection of choice.
2) Question: I'm having difficulty finding a Grade 3 Romantic selection for a student's performance examination; should I stretch the dates of a classical composer (e.g Beethoven) and include a piece that is leaning to the Romantic style, or do I stretch the style and include a piece by a 20th Century composer in the Romantic style.
Although some of Beethoven's works are of the romantic style, e.g. Fur Elise; in his symphonies and movements of sonatas, generally, Beethoven is considered a Classical composer. If selecting a piece in the Romantic style by a 20th Century composer the candidate would be expected to make the connection of why it should be accepted as a Romantic selection. The connection would need to be made in the commentary of why the piece is being played as that selection. Some of the Romantic composers that you may want to consider for this level are, Gurlitt, Tchaikovsky, some of Rebikov's work, Maykapar, Gretchaninov, Burgmuller, Le Couppey, Kohler, some of Schubert's works (just be careful; as some are in the classical style; as he is considered the bridge between Classical and Romantic period), and Schumann.
3) Question: One of my students has chosen a vocal duet for her "Additional" selection - it's a Broadway musical item that she and her friend did in our festival. Would it be okay for her to slip out for the 60 seconds it will take to put on the costume? She would announce the song first - the girls make their entrance as the music begins....
This isn't a problem at all. Providing the candidate is within her allotted time for the exam, she can take as much time as needed. As with concerts and recitals, it's not uncommon for the artist to leave the stage between pieces to compose themselves, so it isn't a problem for her to leave to put on her costume. The idea behind additional selections is to allow the candidate to show other aspects of their music education.
4) Question: For the printed programs for performance exams, are candidates required to name the collection/source of the pieces performed? If yes, how do you show this in the printed program?
When the information is readily available candidates are encouraged to include this information in the printed program. This will help expand the musical knowledge of both the candidate and their teacher. It also becomes a great reference point for students if they would like to learn more repertoire of the same.
An example of this would be:
Aria in d minor, BWV 515 J.S. Bach from Notenbuch der (1685- 1750) Anna Magdalena Bach
5) Question: Can you give us a clue as to whether the rhythm clap-backs are presented as a rhythm only or as a melody?
Rhythm clap-backs will be played as a melody. Melodies are easier to clap back because they provide a rhythmic as well as melodic pattern for the student to hear.
6) Question: My student is preparing for a Grade 4 Performance exam and is working on a "pop" study. Can she use this as her study piece or would it be best to save this for her encore?
Your student can use the pop study as her study piece or for her encore. Either would be fine.
7) Question: Two of my students will be taking Performance exams during the same session. They are preparing a duet for the Festival - would it be appropriate for them to perform this duet (once) as the "additional" piece for BOTH their exams?
It will be fine for both students to programme the duet on their Performance exams as an additional piece; however, it will have to be performed on EACH exam.
8) Question: For the Transposition portion of the Musicianship exam will the student be expected to play only in the transposed key or will they be allowed to play in the written key first?
As outlined in the syllabus, students are asked to transpose at sight, so they will be expected to play only in the transposed key.
9) Question: How do we source required repertoire for CNCM practical examinations?
There is no required repertoire listing. In fact, repertoire selections may be chosen from any source. Graded repertoire books and listings may assist teachers/candidates in their selections, as well as any composer collections and solos. A number of publishing companies now offer graded anthologies and repertoire collections, along with stylistic and biographical information, which may further assist teachers/candidates. Remember, the Canadian National Conservatory of Music may be contacted at any time to confirm appropriateness of repertoire selections.
10) Question: What is meant by the additional piece?
This is an opportunity for the student to showcase other areas of strength. They may play another (any level) instrument, an original composition, perform a vocal piece, or present a duet or trio with friends or family members. If they prefer to perform another piano solo here, it may be one grade level below the rest of their repertoire.
11) Question: Are arrangements allowed on recital exams?
Yes, but try to limit them to one arrangement per exam. Categorize them for traditional exams and perhaps reserve them for the additional or encore piece. They might be used more freely in a theme exam, especially for a "pops" theme, where they would be necessary. However, regardless of the theme, remember that a Canadian composition is a requirement on every exam.
12) Question: How many pieces need to be memorized?
Only 5 pieces are required to be memorized. It is up to the discretion of the candidate on which five it is. There will be a 2 mark deduction for each piece out of the five not memorized, to a maximum of 10 marks. E.g. if only 4 pieces are memorized there will be a 2 mark deduction, if only 3 pieces are memorized there will be a 4 mark deduction.
[Click on question to see answer]
1) Question: How is the melody question marked?
CNCM believes that it is important to encourage the compositional aspect of the young musician so any attempt will be awarded some marks. Marks are awarded for ending on a tonic chord, avoiding wide leaps that are difficult to sing, writing the clefs or key signatures, including correct time values, proper stem direction, accents or solfège syllables.
2) Question: How are scales marked? Do you lose all marks if you use the wrong key signature?
Each element of scale writing has weight, since there are several elements to incorporate: clef, key signature, time signature, accidentals, stems, semitones and rests in the final bar. The scale is marked on all of these elements. The candidate would have to make several errors before all marks would be deducted.
3) Question: Do you need to spell the Italian term correctly for full marks?
Candidates are expected to spell all required Italian, French and German terms correctly to receive full marks.
4) Question: What versions of chromatic scales and 20th century scales does CNCM permit?
Any textbook form of chromatic, pentatonic, octatonic, blues, or whole tone scales is permitted.
5) Question: When writing in open score from short score, do all slurs, phrase lines, dynamic markings and fermatas have to be written separately for each voice?
Yes. Indeed, writing separately for each voice is one of the most important elements in writing for open score. Each voice is singing their own line, and needs to have all the markings transferred. However, the tempo marking at the beginning of the piece above the staff does not have to be written separately.
6) Question: How should my student label keys. Is lower case for minor keys mandatory?
When writing in long hand, it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish a lower case c from an upper case C. Any method of writing a key name is permitted, as long as it is clear. Students may write A major, A+, C minor, c minor, C- or c-, as long as the letter is accompanied by the word or sign.
7) Question: If my student got the wrong key in the transposition question would they lose all the marks? What about in the transposing instruments question?
CNCM awards part marks in the junior grades if the candidate wrote in the wrong key, but transposed the notes correctly, or if they wrote in A major and the key should have been A flat major. However, when transposing to or from concert pitch, the key is crucial, and partial marks are not awarded in the higher grades.