Monday, February 08, 2021

Where to Find All the Level 9 and 10 Chord Progressions for RCM Piano Exams

One of the challenges of Level 9 and 10 piano in The Royal Conservatory's Piano Syllabus, 2015 Edition is learning to play the I - VI - IV - V6/4 - 8-7 - I chord progression in all the keys (C through F major/minor for Level 9, G flat/F# through B major/minor for Level 10). What makes things more challenging is that the chord progression is only ever written out in the Piano Syllabus at the bottom of page 105. If you use the comprehensive Piano Technique Book offered by the RCM, you can find the chord progression at the bottom right of page 54 under "Additional Exercises", although you'll have to change one note on the third chord in order to turn it into a subdominant chord.

But this is no big deal for most pianists learning the level. The Level 9 and 10 chord progressions were always intended as a keyboard skill, and learning how to transpose the progression into six major and minor keys is part of that skill. I've been teaching my students this way for years.

However, not every student can develop those transposition skills without the aid of reading the chords - sometimes they need the score to get these progressions into their fingers. Karen Rowell has created a series of two PDF files that have the chord progressions for each level written out in full. She also included a couple of alternate voicings. 

[Edit 19/7/2022] Since Karen Rowell's site appears to be down permanently, I've created my own version of the Level 9 and 10 chord progressions, which are linked below. 

You can find both documents here:

Best of luck on your senior-level exams! If you have any other questions about preparing for RCM exams, feel free to leave a message in the comments. 

(Photo courtesy of Dolo Iglesias on Unsplash)

look inside Piano Repertoire 10 Celebration Series. From The Royal Conservatory Piano Syllabus, 2015 edition. Celebration Series. 172 pages. RCM Publishing.


  1. Thanks Chris. This will be useful for upper level voice as well

    1. Great idea, Bob! You can also have singers learn the chord progressions for the second-last page of the Level 9 and 10 Four Star sight reading books, which have all the chord ID progressions on them.