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Welcoming RSL's New and Inclusive Classical Piano Syllabus

Contemporary art exam board RSL have announced a new classical piano syllabus – the first of their new series of classical syllabi – and it is inclusive of the rich diversity of music teachers and students.

Published: 30 November 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:31 PM
Photograph of a piano keyboard with warm fairy lights spread out across the keys.
It’s fantastic to see RSL respond with a syllabi that allows students to see themselves reflected in the pieces they play. Photo credit: Shutterstock

After breaking the mould 30 years ago in music education by launching the world’s first rock and pop music grade exams, RSL are now applying themselves to classical music.

They have announced their intention for pupils to see themselves reflected in the diversity of composers they present.

To achieve this just under half (48%) of all the syllabus pieces are composed by people who not male or are of Black, Asian, and Mixed Ethnicity heritage. Specifically, just under a quarter (23%) of the syllabus pieces are composed by Black, Asian, and Mixed Ethnicity heritage composers and 30% by women. This includes publishing a number of pieces by the long-overlooked British composer Ignatius Sancho for the first time in book form, they believe, since the 18th century.

They have also committed to training more ethnically diverse examiners in partnership with the Musicians’ Union as a further aim for 2021.

Our General Secretary Horace Trubridge welcomed the news, and looked forward to continuing work with the exam board:

“RSL Classical Piano syllabi looks like a syllabus in 2020 should do, inclusive of the rich diversity of music teachers and students. It’s fantastic to see RSL listen to underrepresented communities and respond with a syllabi that allows students to see themselves reflected in the pieces they play.

“We need to be thinking about diversity at every level of the music industry and championing organisations that are moving the dial. The MU looks forward to continuing our work on diversity & inclusion with RSL.”

You can read RSL’s full announcement on their website.

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