What is ARCT?


What is ARCT?


ARCT is the Associate Diploma awarded by the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Certificate Program. The Associate Diploma (ARCT) and the Licentiate Diploma (LRCM) are the highest levels achievable by music students through the RCM Certificate Program and it demonstrates the student’s musicianship skills and musical literacy.


There are three ARCT diplomas available to music students: ARCT Performer, ARCT Pedagogy, and ARCT Teacher. Music students choose which ARCT diploma to pursue based on their instrument of choice and their goals for learning.


What is the ARCT Performer Diploma?


The ARCT Performer diploma is available for all RCM instruments. Candidates are expected to play the instrument with technical proficiency and are evaluated as concert performers. Candidates must play with maturity, confidence, understand and interpret the style and structure of the piece. An example from the 2015 RCM Piano Syllabus shows that candidates have to memorize and perform one piece from each of the following groups:


List A: Works by J.S. Bach

List B: Classical Sonatas

List C: Romantic Repertoire

List D: Post-Romantic, Impressionist, and Early 20th-century Repertoire

List E: 20th-and 21st-century Repertoire

List F: Concert Etudes


The minimum passing mark is 70 out of a possible 100. For reference, the national average score for 2019 ARCT Performer, Piano was 74.2. At the Mississauga School of Music, we are proud to say that one of our students achieved a perfect score for ARCT Performer, Piano and was awarded the National Gold Medal for having the highest ARCT Performer, Piano mark in Canada.


Music students must complete music theory prerequisites (Level 8 and 9) to ensure comprehensive knowledge of music history, harmony, and analysis, and have received an overall mark of 75 or a minimum of 70 for each section on the Level 10 practical exam. Along with passing the practical portion of the ARCT exam, students will be expected to pass ARCT music theory, harmony, history, and analysis.


RCM strongly recommends that students study for at least two years after successfully completing the Level 10 examination before taking the ARCT Performer exam.


Candidates who are studying for the ARCT Performer diploma in the Voice, Strings, Wind, Brass, or Percussion stream also need to pass RCM Level 6 piano.


What is the ARCT Pedagogy Diploma (for Piano and Violin)?


ARCT Pedagogy is designed for those who want to teach piano or violin. It ensures that the candidate has the qualifications to teach and is well-versed in teaching techniques for elementary (Preparatory A to Level 4), intermediate (Level 5 to 8), and advanced students (Level 9 and higher). This means that there are three levels of examinations, beginning with the Elementary Pedagogy, followed by Intermediate Pedagogy, and ending with Advanced Pedagogy. To earn the ARCT Pedagogy diploma, the candidate must complete a practical exam, a Viva Voce (oral) exam, and a written exam for all three levels.


Pedagogy exams are successive. Music students can begin to prepare and take the Elementary Pedagogy exams once they’ve completed RCM Level 8 for their instrument but will not be awarded the Elementary Pedagogy until the student has completed RCM Level 9 of their instrument. Intermediate Pedagogy Certificate is awarded after a student completes RCM Level 10 of their instrument and after completion of the Intermediate Pedagogy exams. Students can tackle the Advanced Pedagogy exam after receiving the Intermediate Pedagogy Certificate.


The interactive and written exams are designed to test candidates on how they would deal with real-life challenges faced by music teachers. Examples of questions found in the 2015 Piano Pedagogy Syllabus, that the candidate could encounter during the oral and written exams are:


  • Creating a lessons plan

  • Preparing a student for a music competition

  • Evaluating a student

  • Discussing ways to motivate students

  • Demonstrating how to teach rhythm

  • Explaining the differences between Baroque, Romantic, and Classical style periods

  • Talking about studio management


Candidates must also pass ARCT music history, analysis, and harmony & counterpoint exams.


What is the ARCT Teacher’s Diploma (for Strings, Winds, Brass, and Voice)?


ARCT Teacher is for those who wish to teach voice, string, wind, or brass instruments. Prerequisites include having completed Level 10 and achieved an overall mark of 75 (or a minimum of 70 in each section) in the same instrument as ARCT Teacher and completed Level 8 piano. Candidates must pass ARCT music history, analysis, and harmony & counterpoint exams. The ARCT Teacher exam is comprised of performing a repertoire, sight-reading, ear-training, discussion of teaching principles, and application of teaching methods. Examples of discussion topics found in the 2013 Viola Teacher’s ARCT Supplement include:


  • Identifying teaching problems for a specific piece

  • Detecting errors when the Examiner plays a piece

  • Discussing practice strategies


Pursuing an ARCT diploma is not meant to be easy. It has been compared to earning a post-secondary diploma. It is awarded to those who can play their instrument at the level of proficiency of a concert performer and to music students who have serious intentions of attaining credentials to teach. Students who commit themselves to practice and diligently learn the material are awarded the ARCT Associate Diploma and are recognized by their musical peers for their musicianship, technical abilities, and their comprehensive understanding of music theory and fundamentals.



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