"What level are you?" --- the most frequently asked question to people learning how to play the piano.
What most people don't factor in is the whole picture to do with learning music: music is a language. What should be considered is Music Literacy.
Remember in Primary School (Kindergarten to Grade 3) when you (or your child) had Literacy Circles in class? Learning music is exactly parallel to that structure, in the sense that there are many components: Reading, Writing, Listening. And thus, the marks received or "levels" assigned were based independent to those specific subjects within the whole of Literacy.
So with that question posed, parents and students begin to question themselves, "what level am I?" because so many people ask. When this question reaches me, I let them know about Music Literacy, and grade them accordingly. Some students are very proficient at playing by ear -but are very slow to read music, along with never having written music. How can a teacher possibly give this entirety ONE "level"? I usually split it up. It confuses them a little, but they need to know the facts.
This begins exploring options to become a well-rounded pianist, to become sufficient in all areas of Music Literacy.
The Royal Conservatory of Music: this has set standards for YEARS, throughout my entire lifetime, and then years before I was even born. Yes, the Syllabus has changed, but it is to reflect today's modern society, changing ways and thoughts. Tradition remains with a more flexible outlook.
Several students that have started with me 2-3 years ago are now on the RCM path, because they want to be. Not because they were forced to do so. Learning a Mozart, or Beethoven piece excites them! It's thrilling to hear children excited to learn more technically demanding repertoire, and have them realize that all the Technique Exercises exist in music too (not just for "boring" practice)
A few of these students then become interested in earning certificates and being officially in a piano level upon undertaking an examination with the RCM. This is a huge level up on their part, usually it is unknown all the hard work, dedication, and time required, along with endless repetition of items to be polished to a fully satisfactory performance!
With all this being said, the main purpose of this post is to draw the attention of parents to the requirements of the RCM - they have book sets within each level that are required, along with co-requisite Theory Exams that need to be taken upon reaching Level 5 of Practical Piano.
This blog post (RCM Guide to Piano via Leading Note Blog) I've stumbled upon breaks it all up very nicely, including visuals! :)
Please take a moment to review the page as the information displayed is cohesive and easily understandable.