New Classical Voice Syllabus

Conservatory Canada’s new Classical Voice Syllabus goes into effect for exams taken after May 1, 2019. We thank you for your patience as we spent the past weeks gathering feedback and proofreading the documents, which are available on our Classical Voice Syllabus page here, where you will find the following documents:

    • Syllabus files, by Grade, from Grades 1 – 10 (our Diploma syllabus remains the same at this time).
    • Rules and Regulations, which includes an Introduction / Overview.
  • A reprise of our Recital Assessments information, which is unchanged and still in use.

Because we have not tried to reinvent the whole examination process or make any wholesale changes with these revisions, we feel that you should be able to integrate these changes in your studio rather easily, for those students preparing for examinations.  The format and structure of the exam is based on our previous syllabus from 1999 (which is no longer in effect), providing a familiar footing. Here is a summary of some of the changes we have made, along with rationale and suggestions for some of the anticipated questions.

Timeline for implementation

In the past, we have found it quite difficult to administer a cross-over period between syllabi, as it requires Examiners to use and function with two entirely different sets of requirements while examining.  Because of the familiarity in structure with this new syllabus, we anticipate that even for students who have already begun to prepare for an upcoming examination, they should be able to adhere entirely to the new requirements.  

All students taking exams as part of our June 2019 session will be expected to use the new requirements.  The only exception will be for students who have already completed a first partial, and will be taking a second partial. These students must use the old requirements to finish their current Grade level.  

Students taking a Voice exam in our February 2019 session must still use the old requirements, and students taking a Voice flex exam (eExam) must use the old requirements prior to May 1, after which they must use the new requirements.

Repertoire Publications

Our repertoire lists between the previous 1999 syllabus and the new 2018 syllabus remain largely the same, with  substantial additions, all of which are listed at the end of each Grade level. At this time, the costs associated with producing new repertoire books are prohibitive and we have decided to keep publishing our New Millennium Series.  Any changes to these publications, along with the fact that it takes up to two years (and more) to deplete stock of these books in the hands of retailers, have led to the decision not to alter the former books in any way.

Please note the following:

The syllabus information in the back of each voice repertoire book is no longer valid and needs to be ignored.  All new syllabus information is only available online.

In some cases, students have been given the choice to perform repertoire from one or more Lists within the Grade, to add some flexibility to the repertoire selection process.

Teachers should consult the ever expanding “Contemporary Idioms Voice Repertoire List” for many more repertoire choices for Modern selections.  Any piece from our Contemporary Repertoire List (available here), can be used as a Modern List piece on the Classical exam.

Our free irregular list approval option has become quite popular, and is extended to the new syllabus.  If you have any music of interest that is not on our current lists (including the Contemporary repertoire list), simply provide a copy by email to our registrar ( along with the grade level and List you are requesting to use the piece for, and we will have the piece appraised quickly, at no charge.  You can request approval for multiple pieces on the exam.

Students now have the ability to include one of their repertoire pieces that may be from a higher grade level, whether on the list of a higher grade level, or approved at a higher level as an irregular list.  The piece can be at a level that is more than one grade level higher, but students will be assessed on their ability to perform the music at the level that it is appraised for. Students are encouraged to only include repertoire on their exam that is appropriate for their skill level.

We now award one bonus mark to a student for using at least one repertoire piece by a Canadian composer.  Conservatory Canada is a proud advocate for the performance of music written by Canadian composers, and we felt that this was the best way to encourage the playing of Canadian music.  Music by Canadian composers are denoted with the familiar asterisk in all of our repertoire lists.


We have updated and edited the former exercises, which you will find printed in the syllabus files. Requirements regarding usage of solfege and vowels are given in the syllabus. Students are encouraged to include these exercises as the backbone to their daily rehearsal, and they still constitute the single largest mark of any component or piece on the exam. In addition to assessing ability to perform the exercise as written, examiners will also be assessing appropriateness of vowel shape and overall mechanics of vocal tone production.

Sight Reading and Aural Tests

These tests remain largely the same, with a few updated examples added in the syllabus for clarification and to illustrate the level expected.  Due to feedback received, we have decided to remove the former cadence identification skill from the Aurals tests. There are helpful sets of free aural test examples to work from for each grade, on youtube, by searching for “Conservatory Canada Aural Tests”. The cadence identification can be ignored, and will not be asked on exams.

Vocalises and Recitatives

We have thinned out the Vocalise requirement, with Vocalises now required beginning at Grade 7, while Recitatives are given beginning with Grade 9.  The requirements for the Associate Diploma Voice exams (ACCM) currently remain unchanged.

Background Information (formerly Viva Voce)

Students are required to orally answer questions about pieces, titles, terms, and composers as they are found in their repertoire pieces.  Although it is recommended study, we will no longer be asking questions related to the identification of formal structures or harmonic analysis with identification of modulations and key relationships.  Students are required to provide relevant biographical background information on any composer starting at Grade 4, provided that the information is readily available through an online source. Students are not expected to provide composer information for composers that have no biographical information readily available online.

As always, our mini-lessons are a great way to get additional feedback directly from Examiners, right after the exam.  Mini-lessons must be registered for in advance, and include a 15 minute private session with the examiner, and if preferred, the teacher and parents present.

We hope that you will find this new syllabus easier to use with your students, and that it continues to serve as a valuable tool in providing a framework for students to study from, enabling them to develop a life-long relationship with music making.