There are several major players in String Pedagogy and they are all reputable and they strive for well defined, uniform standards. For the most part, they are mutually respectful of each other, however there is little to no coordination or equivalency provided between them.
In this article, I will compare the four major violin pedagogy organizations I will attempt to provide equivalencies between them.
First, what are the four major organizations?
Suzuki Method (which really isn’t a method, it’s a philosophy of teaching) has certifiable teacher training, and standardized student proficiency tests which adhere to 10 books of progressively harder repertoire. There are Suzuki programs all over the world, all strive to adhere to the same standards.
American String Teachers Association (ASTA) is the body which provides guidance for string programs across the USA. Sponsors string festivals, competitions, and teacher training. Spans 6 grades, or levels.
Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) is the body which governs the uniformity and standardized testing of string students in Canada. RCM spans 11 grades, or levels.
Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) is the body which governs the uniformity and standardized testing of string students in the UK. ABRSM spans 8 grades, or levels.
The equivalencies given are based on repertoire and supplemental material such as etudes and scales. It is important to note that the Suzuki material does not provide supplemental material in its curriculum and MUST be supplemented with scales, arpeggios, etudes, theory, and additional repertoire for diversification in order to be considered on par with the RCM and ABRSM.
There is huge discretion in how Suzuki teachers supplement the books, for better or for worse. For the sake of this article, I am drawing my equivalencies based on the scales, etudes, techniques, theory, and repertoire I require in my online Suzuki classes.
This is unavoidably subjective. I am therefore giving you copies of the resources I used to prepare this video and write my blog article. Simply click this link, to download a copy of the resources I used for my comparison of Suzuki, ABRSM, RCM, and ASTA. This is invaluable for both teachers AND students.
Here are the equivalencies in a nutshell, assuming Suzuki is properly supplemented:
Suzuki Book 1= ABRSM Prep and 1; RCM 1; ASTA 1
Suzuki Book 2= ABRSM 2; RCM 2; ASTA 2
Suzuki Book 3= ABRSM 2-3; RCM 3; ASTA 3
Suzuki Book 4= ABRSM 3-4; RCM 3-4; ASTA 4
Suzuki Book 5= ABRSM 5-6; RCM 4-5; ASTA 4
Suzuki Book 6= ABRSM 6; RCM 5-6; ASTA 4-5
Suzuki Book 7= ABRSM 6-7; RCM 6; ASTA 5
Suzuki Book 8= ABRSM 7-8; RCM 6-7; ASTA 5
Suzuki Book 9= ABRSM 8; RCM 7-8; ASTA 5-6
Suzuki Book 10= ABRSM 8; RCM 9; ASTA 6
RCM Level 10 and 11 are beyond Suzuki Book 10
You read through this whole article, which was quite long and technical. This tells me you are either a teacher trying to refine your teaching, or you are a student taking your education into your own hands. In both cases, I applaud you, and invite you to take a look at my various online courses. They may be just the thing you are missing!
Suzuki Book 1
Suzuki Book 2
Suzuki Book 3
Suzuki Book 4 (coming in mid 2017!)
Wohlfahrt Violin Etudes Opus 45
Keep up your pursuit of musical excellence!
Are these equivalences the same for cello?
While I can’t speak as an authority about the cello repertoire/equivalencies, my instinct would say that they are very similar.
Thank you for your videos and this comparison. My daughter practices to your videos and loves them. We have moved from UK to USA. She was in the middle of suzuki book 6. I am now in the midwest. I don’t know whether she should continue with suzuki, supplemented with ABRSM exams, as we had in UK. I would like to move her to something new but there is nothing in the US of such a high standard. So this was very helpful. I think suzuki with other exam benchmarks is the way to go. I need to find a Suzuki teacher in michigan who understands ABRSM like you do. Any advice?
Bravo to you, for digging deep to find the best help for your daughter!
Are you in a rural area? The ABRSM has little “satellites” all over the USA…..all it takes is a private teacher who registers with them….even on a different instrument, they are usually willing to allow you to use their number to register for exams. See what you can find out, either by searching the ABRSM database, or by searching locally with the teacher networks.
I think the ABRSM has a teacher registry……or you can email them, give them your zip code, and ask if there is a registered teacher within 50 miles of you, or whatever distance you are willing to drive for exams.
But to answer your question: I think it’s the best of both worlds to work through Suzuki, but take the ABRSM exams. So I agree with your assessment.
But, it would also be good to find a Suzuki teacher who is willing to help prepare her for those exams.
I helped a few of my students prepare for it, and it was A TON of work organizing it…..but TOTALLY WORTH IT. Like, they need to be willing to see the requirements, find the etudes, help her organize all the scales and the ear training. If you can’t find someone willing to do that, you could reach out to me and we can work something out.
For a SUZUKI teacher in Michigan…my goodness….you will have to sift through hundreds of them! So you will be able to shop, interview, and really choose a good one.
You can search using the ‘find a teacher” tool at the SAA website. https://suzukiassociation.org/find-a-suzuki-teacher/
Good luck to you! Book 6 is SO EXCITING. I just love that book! The Handel Sonatas are beautiful and interesting. And La Folia. Well…..what’s not to like?!
Talk to you later