Whether you choose to look at the huge number of HE enrolments onto music production related programmes, the ever-increasing amount of IT suites installed in music departments in schools, colleges and conservatoires, or the global prominence of the leading DAW manufacturers’ accredited training centres, the conclusion is the same: music production is the fastest area of growth in music education.
The digital revolution has already left its indelible print on so many industries and the end is probably nowhere in sight. Major record labels were slow to understand the impact of digital technology on the consumption and distribution of music, as were certain producers, engineers and commercial studios. With hindsight, the reluctance to embrace the evolution of the music business in the digital age seems such an easily avoidable oversight, but can the music education providers of today be sure that they are not exposed to making similar errors of judgement? Certain providers have openly embraced the technological advancements in the music industry whilst others have been somewhat reluctant.
Like many industries in the 21st century, the need to adapt is paramount and music education is no exception, hence our 2016 music production graded syllabus. The first opportunity of its kind for students from the areas of either production, composition or performance, to gain accredited qualifications and increase their knowledge alongside their formal academic studies. Coupled with the fact that all eight grades will be assessed exclusively online, in fully equipped, approved centres throughout the world, this ground breaking advancement is emblematic of our commitment to innovation in music education. The 2016 release happens to coincide with our 25th anniversary. An anniversary that represents a quarter of a century’s dedication to realising the vision of Rockschool’s founder and chairman, Norton York. A vision of born of the need to provide formal education for the contemporary musician and thereby levelling the playing field for both contemporary and classical students.
Production skills are becoming increasingly crucial to performing musicians, composers and arrangers and subsequently, the syllabus has been created to enable a complete novice to progress to a level of knowledge, skill and understanding commensurate with entry to production related degree programmes the world over. Carefully devised and constructed by a panel that comprises exemplars from the worlds of popular music, electronic music production, movie soundtrack production, chart topping video game soundtrack composition and cutting edge higher education music and production provision, we have been mindful to create an utterly comprehensive syllabus guaranteed to provide a grounding from which students can progress to any related area of the industry.
As such, all grades include:
- Music production theory (25%) which includes sound and audio fundamentals and music production terminology
- Listening skills (15%) which is comprised of sonic fidelity, music theory and harmony and stylistic awareness assessments
- Practical skills (60%) which includes technical skills (the candidate’s ability to navigate their way around their DAW of choice) and professional scenario (the candidate’s ability to produce music to a given brief). In grades 6, 7 & 8 candidates can choose their area of specialism for the professional scenario component from a choice of audio production, electronic music production and sound for media. The exam is delivered using a ground-breaking online classroom digital platform in collaboration with MusicFirst.
Exam durations are as follows: grades 1, 2 & 3: 90 mins, grades 4 & 5: 120 mins, grades 6, 7 & 8: 180 mins. Exams are available for Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and Ableton Live. GarageBand is also available for grades 1 – 5.
To date we have had ringing endorsement from education providers, producers, musicians and even software manufacturers and currently it looks as if the production syllabus could not only augment, but actually rival the commercial success of our time honoured instrumental and vocal syllabi. Our goal however remains the same today as it was some 25 years ago: to enable access to engaging, relevant, formal music education for students from all areas of contemporary music, the world over.
Head of Product Development & Publishing, Rockschool