Lesson 2: Introducing The RCM Certificate Program to Students and Parents
Jonathan Roberts
While The RCM Certificate Program contains many benefits for students and parents, it can be a tricky concept to explain in a few words. And let’s face it—“music” and “examination” are two words that don’t go together in most people’s minds.

In this lesson, we will cover some effective strategies you can use to introduce the program to your students and their parents.
To start, the less you say, the better.
You could easily spend a lot of time talking through the history of The RCM, how it has been the established standard of musical excellence in Canada for over a century, and a whole lot more. But parents are busy and will quickly become overwhelmed by a lengthy explanation.
One of the most effective strategies you can use when introducing the concept is to compare it to something with which the parents are already familiar. For example, you could draw a parallel to karate. Many parents will be familiar with the concept of advancing through different-colored belts by demonstrating higher levels of skill. This is like that, but for music study.
See? It can be that simple.
Once you’ve established the basic idea, you can detail the benefits their kids can expect from participating in The RCM Certificate Program. Students who participate tend to:

  • advance faster;
  • stick with music longer;
  • celebrate tangible achievements on a regular basis; and
  • will be building a track record of accomplishment that they can reference in the future on employment and education applications.
Next, it’s helpful to detail the fees that are involved. Send parents a link to the package for the relevant level from the RCM Shop.
The fees for all examination levels are available on the RCM website.
If you sense some resistance when detailing the fees to parents, you can compare the costs to program fees linked to other activities. For example, dance class recitals and costume fees, or sport tournaments. Most extra-curricular activites do have fees connected to them. It can also be helpful to explain some of The RCM’s operating costs. These include:
  • paying the examiner, who have been well-trained as musicians as well as in the art of examining;
  • covering examiners’ travel and accommodation costs for in-person examinations;
  • IT infrastructure, which supports online applications and examinations; and
  • administrative systems to schedule and coordinate every aspect of the examinations.

Only explain these components if you feel it is necessary. Sometimes, it may be counterproductive to hint that the program might be “expensive” when you’re explaining the fees.
You may also consider discussing the program with the student first, before approaching the parents. This might seem counterintuitive, but it can be very effective! If you begin by explaining the program to parents, and they do not explain it effectively to students, the students may be hesitant to try it out.
Additionally, if you begin with the student, you will be saving the parents a lot of work. If they know their kids are already on board, they know they won’t need to spend time convincing them and will be more likely to give their stamp of approval.

Select at least one of your students and introduce the program to them and their parents. On the discussion forum for this lesson, share a little about the student you have in mind, which level you’re considering, and any reservations, concerns, or questions you may have about introducing them to The RCM.

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