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R.C.M. Music Development Program R.C.M. Music Development Program

I am a Founding Teacher of the Achievement Program, which is now called The Music Development Program, or M.D.P.  This means that you can earn your guitar degree in my studio.  This is a great program with real "street cred".  If you wan to learn more, please contact me.  

Here is a link to the M.D.P. website for more information about the program's benefits and costs.

Link to the Music Development Program Website (click here).


And now for some Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Music Development Program assessment?

The Music Development Program practical (performance) assessment is a comprehensive, professional evaluation of a student’s understanding and abilities on their chosen instrument at a specific level. The Music Development Program also offers comprehensive, professionally developed, and internationally recognized assessments in theoretical subjects, including rudiments, harmony, and music history.

What are practical (performance) assessments?

The Music Development Program practical (performance) assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of a student’s current abilities on his/her chosen instrument, including voice. Students and teachers work together to choose and prepare a selection of repertoire to perform for the adjudicator as well as preparing technical and musicianship requirements according to the syllabus/program guidelines. Upon successful completion of the assessment, students have access to the adjudicator’s comments in detailed marking forms. Once all the components of an assessment are successfully completed, students are awarded certificates. The process is designed to recognize individual development and achievement and offer positive and constructive feedback that enhances a student’s current studies and provides an opportunity for growth, both for the student and his/her teacher.

What happens in a practical (performance) assessment?

The Music Development Program’s practical (performance) assessment is designed to be a warm and welcoming experience, one on one with a professional, program-certified adjudicator. Students will be greeted in a friendly and engaging manner by their adjudicator, and will be able to perform their materials in an order they have selected in consultation with their teacher. Because The Music Development Program is a comprehensive program, all aspects that have been prepared, including repertoire, études, ear tests, and sight reading, will be heard by the adjudicator. As a result, students, families, and teachers can be assured that the assessment represents the student’s complete musical achievements in a fair manner at the time of the assessment.

What can a student expect in a practical (performance) assessment?

Practical (performance) assessments evaluate the following areas of the student’s musical development:

  • Performance of three to five pieces of repertoire depending on level
  • Performance of one or two études that focus on an aspect of performance skill appropriate for the level
  • Performance of technical skills such as scales, chords, and arpeggios, which progress in difficulty from level to level in a manner consistent with the technical demands of the repertoire. An assessment includes a representative sampling from the published list of requirements.
  • An evaluation of musicianship skills, appropriate for the level, through aural identification of intervals, chord qualities, cadences, and ear-to-hand playbacks of rhythms and melodies. A demonstration of rhythmic reading and sight playing ability further supports music literacy.


Who are the adjudicators?

The Music Development Program is adjudicated by a professional body of distinguished teachers and performers from across North America, each of whom is a specialist in one or more areas represented in the program of study. Adjudicators undergo a competitive admissions process and must meet a minimum qualifying standard before being accepted as apprentice adjudicators.

Apprentices complete an intensive series of lectures, demonstrations, and a practicum, coupled with a full year of observation in the field before promotion to full adjudicator.

All adjudicators engage in yearly professional development and are subject to annual performance reviews. Please contact The Music Development Program at 1.866.716.2223 if you are interested in becoming an adjudicator.

How many adjudicators will there be?

To ensure that the assessment is both a professional and comfortable experience, the assessment takes place in a one-on-one session between the student and the adjudicator. Occasionally a second adjudicator may be present for training and/or quality assurance purposes.

Are parents and teachers allowed to watch the assessment?

For professional and quality assurance purposes, only the student and the adjudicator will be in the assessment room. Parents and teachers may wait in a designated waiting area. A professional center representative is always present to oversee the assessment center and waiting areas.

For students taking voice or instrumental assessments other than piano, accompanists are permitted in the assessment room only during the collaborative portion of the repertoire performance.

How are practical assessments marked?

The adjudicator’s report will provide both number grades and written comments on each aspect of the assessment. The Music Development Program’s adjudicators undergo rigorous training to ensure a consistent standard of grading across the country. Written comments are intended to recognize achievement and recommend areas for growth and development.

The Music Development Program grades according to the following scale:

  • First Class Honors with Distinction: 90 – 100%
  • First Class Honors: 80 – 89%
  • Honors: 70 – 79%
  • Pass: 60 – 69%

First Class Honors with Distinction: 90 – 100

This standing is reached by truly exceptional students. Students must demonstrate complete technical command and perform with a confident, masterful style. These students clearly show an authentic personal performance spark at the highest level.

First Class Honors: 80 – 89

At this standing, students present an engaging and intelligent performance, displaying technical polish and finesse. Students are well prepared and project personal musical expression.

Honors: 70 – 79

Students exhibit thorough and careful preparation and demonstrate some interpretive skills. Repertoire is presented with overall understanding and accuracy. There is awareness and general security in technical and musicianship elements. There may be areas in need of further development in skills or select repertoire.

Pass: 60 – 69

Students exhibit only a very basic level of preparation. The adjudicator’s report will reflect the areas that require further growth and development.

What are theory assessments?

The Music Development Program theory assessments are progressively leveled evaluations of a student’s comprehensive understanding of Rudiments (basic theory), Harmony, Counterpoint, Analysis, and Music History. Assessments are written in a classroom setting. The length of each assessment varies from one to three hours depending on the level. They are held on a different date than the practical assessments.  Check the Theory Syllabus online for more details.

What are theory co-requisites?

Some assessments require a theory component.  For guitar, for example, there is no theory requirement through level 4.  They are required beginning at Level 5.  The student can still take the playing/practical assessment after level 4 without taking the theory assessment, but no certificate will be awarded until the theory co-requisite is satisfied. The student has 5 years from the date of the practical/playing exam to take the theory portion and receive the level certificate.

Are the theory and practical (performance) assessments given at the same time?

No, theory and practical (performance) assessments are scheduled at different times in order to allow students the opportunity to take both a theory and a practical (performance) assessment in the same session. This is particularly useful for students interested in achieving the theory and practical (performance) levels required for the comprehensive certificate at the same time of year.

Can I take an assessment more than once?

Yes. Students may reregister for and retake an assessment as many times as they desire if they wish to improve their mark or prepare more thoroughly before progressing to the next level.

What happens if a student does not pass a level?

In the rare case that a student is not prepared for the assessment and does not complete a level successfully, he or she has the opportunity to retake the level. Constructive comments will be provided by the adjudicator to guide the student toward future success.

For students who require additional work in a specific area to achieve a passing standard in Level 10 and/or the Associate Diploma in Piano Pedagogy, supplemental assessments are available in repertoire, technique, and musicianship.

How can assessments be exchanged for high school or college credit? What states or schools are now offering this?

The Music Development Program's assessments have been used for high school and college credits. Currently, these decisions are made by individual boards and schools. Contact your school's guidance counselor or academic adviser for specific details.