Contemporary Idioms 2014 Syllabus

The 2014 Contemporary Idioms revised/corrected Syllabus is now here!  Our apologies for the delay on this, but it was important to get it as accurate as possible.  We appreciate your patience and understanding through this process! 

Any good Syllabus is, of course, an evolving and dynamic entity, and this one is no different.  We are very grateful to the many, many teachers, students, parents, teachers, examiners and publishers across the country who have continually contributed so many thoughts, ideas and innovative solutions for this 2014 edition.  We are all convinced that Conservatory Canada’s CI programme is EXCELLENT, on many different levels.  The bottom line is that there now are more musicians than ever, both young and old, who are enjoying making music because of the hard work everyone put into first the design and then the revisions of the programme.

It should be understood that this was not a major revision of the last version, which was a big overhaul from the previous one as the Conservatory reorganized from eight to ten levels.  The 2014 edition is rather a major clean up of many discrepancies and errors, but it also gave us a chance to create some opportunities that had been missed in the earlier edition.  The very next step for us is to churn out as much in the way of support material as we can!

Following is a short list of “What’s New or Changed?”  This is by no means a comprehensive list, and of course teachers should read the full instructions for each level.

  • All of the Improvisation instructions have been rewritten and clarified to make it much easier for teachers and students to understand.
  • Rather than delay the release of the 2014 Syllabus, most of the music examples have been removed temporarily.  They will be reinstated, probably in a separate document, once the errors have been fixed and notation standardized.  We appreciate your patience!
  • As much as possible, when certain keys are required in the different sections, those keys match the keys required in the technique section.  Similarly for the chords, if students are required to identify certain chords in aural tests for example, those chords are included as part of the technique section, so that they have to play them as well as hear them.
  • In technique, where we felt there was redundancy or unnecessary requirements, these were shortened and some of the previous requirements eliminated.
  • In Levels 3 through 10, new maximum performance times for examinations were placed on the group of repertoire pieces (see the outlines at each Level).  This was to add comfort to the timing of examinations so that nobody feels rushed.
  • As much as possible, sight reading, aural skills and keyboard harmony sections mirror the requirements of the Conservatory’s classical Syllabus, but having said that, there sometimes were requirements that we felt needed to be changed to accommodate the unique aspects of the Contemporary Idioms programme.  Materials that are used to prepare for the Classical Syllabus requirements are perfectly usable for Contemporary Idioms as well.
  • The “Keyboard Skills” section (Progressions, Harmonization, Transposition) were eliminated for Levels 8 through 10.  It was felt that, once the I-IV-V-I requirement was met at Level 7, time and energy could be better spent on developing other skills in the highest Levels.
  • Improvisation is of course a major element of the Contemporary Idioms programme, and we cannot urge strongly enough that improvisations be, well, “improvised”.  Improvisations should never be written out and learned/memorized, of course.  The creativity and energy will only develop once there is freedom from the notes on the page.  Lead sheets are only a simple guideline.  It’s what the performer does with that guideline that makes improvising so much fun!  Oscar Peterson and Frédéric Chopin had a great deal in common, including this:  both said that they never played their pieces the same way twice!

Finally, we know that as soon as this Syllabus hits the streets the evolution will continue, and we are always grateful to receive suggestions, comments, and, yes, criticisms so that we continue to make this programme the best in the country.  You can reach us anytime at conservatorysuggestions [at] gmail [dot] com.

We wish you well in your teaching, and we wish your students success and much enjoyment as they grow and develop into fine young contemporary musicians!

View the Contemporary Idioms Syllabus

September, 2013


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