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Music Lessons in Toronto: Exploring the ABRSM Method

When it comes to music education, the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) method is a highly regarded approach for individuals seeking piano lessons in Toronto. Established in 1889, the ABRSM method offers a comprehensive and structured curriculum designed to provide a well-rounded musical education for students of all ages and skill levels. Rooted in Western Classical music, this method focuses on performance, theory, ear training, and sight-reading skills. Let's delve deeper into the ABRSM method and discover how it can benefit aspiring musicians in Toronto.

A Graded System

One of the key features of the ABRSM method is its graded examination system. As students progress through their musical journey, they have the opportunity to take standardized exams at various levels. These examinations evaluate their technical proficiency, repertoire knowledge, theory comprehension, and musicianship skills. Successfully completing these exams not only provides a sense of accomplishment but also offers recognized certification for their musical achievements. ABRSM certificates are widely respected and valued within the music community, serving as a testament to a student's dedication and skill.

The ABRSM method contains 9 levels - intro through grade 8. Once students complete grade 8, ABRSM offers more advanced diplomas. DipABRSM (Diploma of The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) is the next level and grade 8 ABRSM is a prerequisite. Once completed, DipABRSM is roughly equivalent to a successful first year at a post-secondary music institution. Upon completion of the DipABRSM course, students can enroll in LRSM (Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music). At the LRSM level, students decide to specialize as an orchestral player, chamber ensemble member or accompanist. Once students have successfully completed LRSM, they are able to proceed with FRSM (Fellowship of the Royal Schools of Music), which is the highest level diploma. Successfully completing the FRSM course is roughly equivalent to a Masters degree. Each level of the ABRSM method and each diploma program has a graded test that students will need to prepare for.

ABRSM Exam Room

Events & Curriculum

In Toronto, the ABRSM method is highly respected and embraced by music educators, schools, and institutions. Many piano teachers in the city are well-versed in this approach and incorporate its principles into their teaching methods. The ABRSM organizes various events, such as concerts, masterclasses, and competitions, where students can showcase their talents and receive further recognition for their accomplishments. These opportunities not only foster musical growth but also instill confidence and provide a platform for students to connect with fellow musicians.

Similar to the RCM method, the ABRSM method consists of graded levels that provide a progressive framework for students to develop their musical skills. There are typically eight grades in the ABRSM system, with each grade offering a balanced curriculum that includes practical, theory, and aural components. The practical component focuses on performance skills, where students learn a set repertoire of pieces ranging from different musical periods and styles. Technical exercises, scales, and arpeggios are also emphasized to enhance students' technical abilities and musical expression.


The theory component of the ABRSM method aims to deepen students' understanding of musical concepts and principles. Students learn about notation, rhythm, harmony, scales, and other theoretical elements. The ABRSM theory curriculum progresses alongside the practical component, ensuring that students develop a solid theoretical foundation that enhances their overall musicianship. Theory examinations are conducted at various levels, and successful completion of these exams is required to progress to higher grades.

Ear Training

Ear training, also known as aural skills, is another integral aspect of the ABRSM method. Students develop their ability to identify and understand musical elements such as intervals, rhythms, and melodic patterns by ear. This skill is essential for developing a strong sense of musicality, enhancing performance interpretation, and facilitating improvisation.


The ABRSM method also emphasizes sight-reading skills, which enable students to read and perform music fluently at first sight. Through regular practice and exposure to a wide range of musical pieces, students develop the ability to sight-read confidently, aiding their overall musical development and expanding their repertoire.

How Long Does The ABRSM Method Take To Complete?

The time it takes to complete the ABRSM method varies depending on several factors, including the starting level of the student, the amount of time dedicated to practice and study, the complexity of the chosen instrument or voice, and the desired level of achievement.

On average, students typically progress through each ABRSM grade within one to two years, although this can vary. The frequency and duration of music lessons, as well as the amount of practice time, play a significant role in the timeline. Students who have more frequent lessons and dedicate ample time to practice tend to progress more quickly through the grades.

Moreover, the time required to complete the ABRSM method also depends on the individual's goals. Some students may choose to complete only a few grades for personal enrichment and enjoyment, while others may aim for higher levels of achievement, such as obtaining a diploma from ABRSM.

Students who would like to complete an ABRSM diploma like the ones we mentioned above typically require several years of dedicated study and practice beyond the initial graded levels. They involve a higher level of technical proficiency, musical interpretation, and theoretical understanding.

It's important to note that the ABRSM method is designed to be flexible, allowing students to learn at their own pace and tailor their musical education to their individual goals and abilities. The timeline for completing the ABRSM method may vary for each student, and it is best to discuss specific goals and expectations with a qualified music teacher who is familiar with the ABRSM curriculum.


Throughout their musical journey with the ABRSM method, students are encouraged to explore various musical genres and styles, including both classical and contemporary repertoire. While the method has its roots in classical music, it acknowledges the importance of musical diversity. Students have the freedom to select pieces from alternative repertoire lists, allowing them to delve into different genres such as jazz, pop, and world music. This flexibility enables students to personalize their musical experience and develop versatility as musicians. The ABRSM method is known for its comprehensive approach, ensuring that students receive a well-rounded music education. By integrating practical, theory, aural training components. Interested in following the ABRSM method? Contact Greater Toronto Music School today to find a top Toronto piano teacher who can help you.

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