What is the Music Development Program?

Launched in March 2011 by New York’s Carnegie Hall and Canada’s Royal Conservatory, The Music Development Program (formerly The Achievement Program) provides a national standard for musical achievement for people of all ages studying music in the US, offering a sequential course of study from beginner through advanced levels. Modeled on the acclaimed examination system of The Conservatory in Canada, the program was created in response to feedback from parents and teachers throughout the US, requesting a top-quality nationally-recognized system to track students’ musical progress, celebrating their accomplishments.


The Music Development Program centers on periodic assessments for students—one-on-one adjudicator-to-student performance evaluations that also function as valuable teaching and learning opportunities. In each practical assessment, a certified professional adjudicator evaluates a student’s performance of repertoire, studies (etudes), and musical proficiency skills. Assessments are offered for keyboard, string, woodwind, and brass instruments; voice; and the academic subjects of music theory, music history, and pedagogy. Assessments are held several times a year at locations across the US with upcoming dates and registration information listed on www.TheAchievementProgram.com.

The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program

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Why Choose The Music Development Program?

A Comprehensive Program of Musical Development – The Music Development Program encompasses four main areas:

  • Each level includes a broad selection of pieces representing a variety of styles and periods.
  • Repertoire selections are leveled progressively in difficulty.
  • Periodic reviews of the repertoire keep the selections fresh and innovative.
  • Teachers and students can add favorite pieces through the Teacher’s Choice and Own Choice selections.
  • Each level of technique is designed to support the demands of the repertoire for that level.
  • Technique includes scales, chords, arpeggios, patterns, and études.
  • A thoughtful and consistent approach to the development of reading and aural skills.
  • Musicianship skills are developed in conjunction with repertoire goals and requirements.
  • Musicianship skills give students a solid foundation for independent creative musical explorations.
  • The Music Development Program’s academic subjects support students in acquiring the theoretical and historical knowledge necessary for music literacy.
  • Theoretical levels are tied to practical (performance) levels, reinforcing concepts encountered in repertoire, technique, and musicianship studies.
  • At-the-keyboard assessments of keyboard harmony and musicianship present students with an opportunity to develop skills in improvisation and composition.

Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music

ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of  Music) is the UK’s largest music education body, one of its largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams, offering assessments to more than 630,000 candidates in 93 countries every year. ABRSM’s mission is to inspire achievement in music. In partnership with the Royal Schools of Music, we support high-quality music-making and learning around the world.

ABRSM exams are one of the most prestigious music assessment programs in the world. They are recognized as the golden standard in evaluating musical achievement in over 90 countries, including the US. Examinations are offered to students of all ages and all levels of proficiency, from the young beginner to the advanced diplomas. Students enter the examinations by preparing a special program of select repertoire and technical requirements such as scales and arpeggios. They are also tested on aural skills, such as sight reading and sight singing, etc. What I appreciate most about these exams is the high level of their administration and recognition not only on the state level, but on the international level.

Theory tests are not required until students pass level 5 of ABRSM piano exams. However, in order to move on to grade 6, they are required to take and successfully pass the written test.