The Royal Conservatory

Certificate Program

We are proud to introduce
The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program

The RCM Certificate Program incorporates repertoire, etudes/studies, sight-reading, ear training, technique and theory into a structured curriculum that is designed to assess the students progress and musical growth. At the completion of each level a Certificate of Achievement can be earned by successfully completing a Royal Conservatory practical examination.

The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program is most appropriate for students who are dedicated to their instrument and are interested in receiving recognition in a program that is internationally renowned and sets the standard for music education and achievement.

Achievement in RCM examinations are recognized in schools, which may help you reach your goals to be selected for accelerated programs such as the AAP (Advanced Academic Program) and magnet High Schools.

Included in the RCM program are studio recitals and access to performance ensembles such as rock bands, string quartets, cello choir, musical theater, piano ensembles and more.  Students enrolled in the RCM program will also be able to utilize RCM’s Online Ear Training course.

Your teacher can advise you if your child is ready for this program.


  • No. Each child is different and therefore having multiple programs to choose from ensures that students are receiving the perfect music education for them.

  • Speak to your instructor about the program. They can advise you if the program would be a good fit for your student. In order to begin the RCM certificate program, the students must have a working knowledge of the instrument. That means beginner level materials must be completed before the student can begin the RCM program.

  • The RCM program requires the student to take a test at each level in the following areas; repertoire memorization, technique, musicianship, and theory. If the student successfully completes the level exam they are rewarded with a certificate of completion and may then advance to the next level of studies. The Music Loft standards of learning also teach repertoire, technique, musicianship and theory however there are no official certifications and the curriculum is tailored to your child.

  • Go to the website and create a log in. You must register through the RCM portal.

    Examination dates are Nov/Dec, May/June and August. You must register 5 months in advance to reserve your day and time.

What are the costs associated with the RCM program?

Tuition 30-Minute Lesson$390 – 8-week semester
$195 Monthly
Tuition 45-Minute Lesson$570 – 8-week semester
$285 Monthly
BooksSet of books per level start at $80
Examination Fee$60 and up as the levels advance

Our RCM Teachers

Piano, Voice, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Caroline Abbott

Piano, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

David Battis

Advanced Piano, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Sharon Bernson

Violin, Viola, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Nicholas Black

Violin, Viola, Cello, RCM program (Online)

Missy Chappell

Violin, Viola, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Zhuo Diao

Violin, Viola, Piano, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Anthony Gillingham

Voice, Alto Saxophone, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Andrew Goldstein

Voice, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Nikole James

Conducting, Piano, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Dr. Yoon Nam

Piano, Violin, Viola, Ukulele, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Bridget Olson

Piano, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Rebecca Pitts

Violin, Viola, Cello, Electric Bass, RCM Program (Onsite & Online Northern Virginia)

Laura Readyoff

Laura Readyoff

Owner and CEO

Violin, Viola, Cello, Electric Bass, RCM Program

Laura Readyoff has been a music educator since 1986 in both the public schools and private sectors. Laura has been owner of The Music Loft since it’s opening in 2010.

Laura earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the prestigious Crane School of Music in New York. She received a Master’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in Public School Administration for grades Kindergarten – 12th grade from The Long Island University in New York.

Laura has conducted award-winning orchestras both in New York and Virginia, served as an adjudicator for multiple solo and ensemble festivals in New York and Virginia, and has written music curriculum for Commack Middle School.

Laura’s style of teaching is always filled with creativity and fun. Her objectives are to give students confidence in their abilities, to see them flourish as musicians, inspire and challenge students, and to instill in them a love for music.

Because of her love of children and community, she has created various award-winning community programs such as Percussion works, NoVa Youth Ensembles, and Play it Forward Instrument Donation Drive.

For her work in the community, Laura and The Music Loft have been awarded numerous awards including the prestigious “Distinguished Volunteer” awarded by the mayor and Herndon town council, “Arts Leader” awarded by the Dulles regional chamber of commerce, and “The President’s Award” awarded by Arts Herndon for her work in the arts community.

Currently, Laura is engaged as a strings consultant, adjudicator, and clinician for both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.
​Laura also performs locally with a band on electric bass and violin.

Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and 4 children, scrapbooking, knitting, playing in a band, traveling, and anything that has to do with her hometown, New York.

Sharon Bernson

Managing Partner and CFO

Advanced Piano, RCM program

Sharon is a graduate of Regent University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Organization, Leadership and Management and a minor in Piano. She is the Managing Partner and CFO of The Music Loft. Sharon is also a member of the Music Teachers National Association, the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association, and the Virginia Music Teachers Association.

Her study of music began at the young age of six, and she cannot remember a time when she was not playing or teaching piano. At the age of twelve, Sharon was asked to accompany choirs and programs at school, and from there, her accompanying skills and opportunities continued to grow. With the encouragement of her parents and through continuous private lessons, Sharon competed in various fine arts competitions throughout middle and high school, culminating in the completion of her High School Diploma Certificate from the National Piano Guild. Sharon continued her piano studies at the collegiate level where she once again performed and was assessed by the National Piano Guild. She has since performed in multiple recitals and performances.

Sharon began her private piano studio while in college. Over the years, Sharon has had private students who have won piano competitions across the country, and she enjoys preparing students for college auditions and entrance exams. It has been a joy for Sharon to see some of these students graduate and complete their degrees in piano.

Her teaching experience extends to the classroom as well. She was previously the Music Director at Dominion Christian School where she developed the school’s music curriculum, was responsible for school-wide yearly performances encompassing multiple disciplines of music including choirs, hand bells, small ensembles, and recorders.

Sharon’s passion is to build a solid theory foundation and to then develop her students’ listening skills and musicianship so that they can hear and express the beauty in each piece. Each lesson is filled with kindness and encouragement.

When not at The Music Loft, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family (and her German Shepherd), watching any Boston sports’ team, or exploring Colonial Williamsburg.

Caroline Abbott

Piano, Voice, RCM Program

Starting at a young age, Caroline was very fortunate to have excellent music educators to spark her passion for music and the arts. These educators encouraged her to reach far, which led her to start accompanying choirs for competitions and performances by age twelve.

Caroline has received numerous awards for her accompanying skills and has accompanied choirs, small ensembles, soloists, students for adjudicated events and auditions, as well as a violinist for his University’s Senior Recital. In January of 2018, she became the Music Director for NextStop Theatre’s production of Once Upon A Mattress.

Throughout her musical career, Caroline had many incredible performance opportunities in choirs, such as singing with the DC National Choir for their annual Christmas concert. She participated in All County and District Choirs all throughout her high school years, and had the pleasure of being involved in a Regional Governor’s School before her senior year. She is an active participant in her church’s music department as a vocalist, pianist, and accompanist. In May of 2020, she had the absolute pleasure of participating in Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir No. 6.

Caroline’s hope in teaching students is that they will grow to love and have a passion for music that will stay with them and carry them through life.

Caroline graduated from Gardner Webb University.

Hobbies: Being outdoors, yoga, learning languages
Favorites: Coffee, playing with her dog, hiking”

David Battis

Piano, RCM Program

David Battis has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a minor in music from Case Western Reserve University, a baccalaureate equivalent in computer science from IBM Technical Education, and a Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law.

Mr. Battis was a piano student of David Sokoloff, classical pianist and conductor. While at Case Western Reserve University, David was concurrently a Music Theory major at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where one of his instructors was conductor James Levine, the world renowned music director of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Mr. Battis was the pianist at the Nordstrom Dulles Town Center for a year and a half. He has played for events at the Frederick Douglass Museum in Washington, D.C., at the Lyceum in Alexandria, VA, the French Embassy, Grace Covenant Church, the Waterford at Fair Oaks, the Capitol Hill Club, the Washington Dulles Hilton, the Heritage Hunt Country Club in Gainesville, VA, the Regency at Dominion Valley, Art Space in Herndon, VA, and the Belmont Country Club in Ashburn, VA, as well as several other events in private venues. He played for the General Dynamics Christmas party at the Marriott Westfield for several years and has also played at the Electric Palm Restaurant on the waterfront at Occoquan, VA.

He has been a performing pianist, piano teacher, and piano sales consultant in the northern Virginia area for over twenty-five years and is adept at employing varied methods of instruction to ensure student comprehension. Mr. Battis enjoys building strong relationships with his students.

Zhuo Diao

Violin, Viola, RCM Program

Zhuo Diao is a graduate of The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China with a Bachelor of Music in Performance, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She earned an Artist’s Diploma and a Master’s Degree in Viola Performance from Shenandoah University Conservatory in Virginia.

Zhuo’s performance history started at a young age, performing in orchestras for the following schools, October the First Middle School (Beijing), The High School Attached to Tsinghua University (Beijing), Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing), and Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester,Virginia). Zhuo has traveled and performed all over the world with many famous composers including Seiji Ozama, Daniel Barenboim, Jan Wagner Yang, Werner Andreas Albert, Xincao Li, and Yongyan Hu.

In her fourteen years of teaching experience, she has trained award-winning musicians. Several of her students have won the American Protege International Piano and String Competition, as well as the Washington Universal Piano and String Competition. Other students have been accepted and have performed with the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Zhuo has also prepared students to attend universities such as MIT, University of California, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

Being bilingual in Chinese and English, Zhuo is sharing her passion and love for music with both Chinese and English speaking individuals.

Anthony Gillingham

Violin, Viola, Piano, RCM Program

Anthony Gillingham has been playing violin for 20 years and piano for 19. His love of music started at a young age and was fostered by his parents through private lessons, group lessons at the local music academy, participation in musical competitions, as well as participation in multiple local orchestras through middle school and high school.

He attended Bob Jones University where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, with a piano proficiency. While at BJU, he played violin in the BJU Symphony Orchestra for four years, played for on campus events such as operas, musicals, commencement, etc, as well as for SCMEA and other state competitions. After graduating, Anthony taught for a year at Tri-County Christian School, instructing 1st-8th grade general music, as well as organizing and directing music programs throughout the school year. He has been teaching at The Music Loft since 2018.

Anthony has worked as a long-term substitute orchestra teacher in the Loudoun County Schools and has extensive experience with orchestras, whether instructing, conducting or participating.

Hobbies: listening to soundtracks, writing/improvising music with friends.

Andrew Goldstein

Voice, Alto Saxophone, RCM Program

Andrew received his Master’s degree in Voice Pedagogy, Bachelor’s in Music Education, and certification from the Contemporary Commercial Music Institute at Shenandoah Conservatory.

Andrew is an active singer and teacher in the Northern Virginia area. This past year, he sang in the chorus of the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center and with the Maryland Lyric Opera. He has also performed as a soloist and in operas in Italy, Michigan, Illinois, and more.

Andrew has taught K-12 general music, band, and chorus in both Fairfax and Loudoun County public schools, and teaches piano, voice, and saxophone privately in Ashburn, Herndon, and online.

Under the direction of Grammy award-winning conductor Robert Shafer, Andrew sang with Shenandoah’s Conservatory and Chamber Choir in Rome, Venice, Florence, and Assisi, Italy, as well as at the Strathmore Performing Arts Center in Maryland. Originally a saxophone player, he was featured in Shenandoah Conservatory’s wind ensemble’s performance at the Virginia Music Education Association conference.

Nicholas Black

Violin, Viola, RCM Program

Nicholas earned his Bachelor’s degree at George Mason University where he studied Viola under Philippe Chao and Music Composition under Jesse Guessford.

Nicholas teaches all aspects of music by exploring many different styles, including classical, jazz, folk, and pop. Nicholas loves to challenge his students through pieces he believes will push their limits, as well as finding pieces they enjoy learning and performing. He incorporates music theory and composition into his lessons as a way to analyze and find meaning in music. Nicholas’ goal with each student is not only to teach them how to play their instrument, but to deeply understand music and to find the joy in creating art.

Nicholas offers lessons using the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) program. Students of Nicholas have successfully completed examinations through RCM and have received First Class Honors and First Class Honors with Distinction.

His most recent projects include music for the video game Flat Form Fighter, short musical vignettes on his YouTube channel, and original music for Allison Dyke that premiered in NYC in 2019.

Missy Chappell

Violin, Viola, Cello, RCM Program

Missy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music and her Master’s degree in Educational School Leadership, Instruction and Curriculum from Concordia University.

Missy is an accomplished cellist and sought after music educator. She teaches private string lessons and performs on cello extensively in the Northern Virginia area. Previously, she was the Associate Director for the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra in Brunswick, Georgia. Missy currently serves as a Strings Teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools.

She has performed on cello with the Orchestra of Northern New York, the Manassas Symphony Orchestra, and the Amelia Island String Ensemble. Missy has taught students of all ages, conducted string ensembles, taught music theory and masterclasses, and coached small chamber groups.

Nikole James

Voice, RCM Program

Nikole James earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Having performed in many different venues across the United States, including The Kennedy Center with the Washington National Opera Institute, as well as Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic, she is most recognized for her artistry and captivating stage presence. Her operatic roles include Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring, and opera scene programs as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Miss Silverpeal in The Impresario, Aunt Bea in Bolcom’s A Wedding, and Lucy in Pasatieri’s The Hotel Casablanca. In addition to her wide variety of operatic roles, Nikole has also performed the role of Julie Jordan in Carousel.

She was the Southern Division winner and national finalist for the MTNA Competition, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Additionally, she received first place in the Senior Division for the NVMTA Competition, first place in the Regional Level at the Bland Music Competition, and was named “Most Outstanding Vocalist” and “Broadway Bound” at the William Schmidt Vocal Competition. Currently, Nikole is a judge and member of the National Federation of Music Clubs, which provides a wide range of performance opportunities to music students of all skill levels. Ms. James understands the importance of healthy vocal technique, and through her teaching, hopes to inspire her students and share her passion for music with others.

Dr. Yoon Nam

Conducting, Piano, RCM Program

Dr. Yoon Nam has directed or performed music at churches for most of the past decade. She has directed adult choirs, youth choirs, children’s choirs, hand bell choirs, and orchestras. She has also sung regularly and accompanied others on the piano and organ. Yoon has studied music most of her life, first studying piano at age of five, voice at thirteen, and attending the prestigious Seoul Arts and Music High School as a voice major. She continued studying voice in college for her undergraduate and master’s degree. During this time she began teaching voice as an adjunct faculty member at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul. She also served as a soloist and assistant director at Young Nak Presbyterian Church in Seoul. Yoon came to the United States for the advanced study of music in 1996, earning her second master’s degree and a Doctor of Music in music conducting at Indiana University. After graduating, Yoon found her calling as a full time music minister, serving at Richmond Hill United Methodist Church in Georgia. In 2010, Yoon joined Floris United Methodist Church as a traditional music director. She directs the Sanctuary Choir, Chamber Choir, brass and Cantata orchestras.

She has two beautiful daughters, Christine and Joanne.

Bridget Olson

Piano, Violin, Viola, Ukulele, RCM Program

Bridget Olson teaches private piano, viola, violin, and ukulele lessons, with an emphasis on the whole musician. She assigns materials catered to each student to help them reach their greatest potential. Students study scales, left and right hand technique, rhythm, theory, aural training, and repertoire at every level. Bridget encourages upper level thinking and mindfulness in each lesson. Her greatest joy is watching her students grow as both musicians and people.

Students of Bridget have successfully completed examinations through the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) and Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). She continues to offer RCM lessons through The Music Loft.

Bridget studied viola under Doris Lederer while pursuing her Music Education degree at Shenandoah Conservatory. In addition to teaching her private studio, she is the Music Specialist at Montessori Country School in Herndon, VA and enjoys working in the public schools as a guest clinician.

Rebecca Pitts

Piano, RCM Program

Rebecca has been playing piano for 20 years. Her love of music started at a young age and grew as she studied diligently with several accomplished teachers throughout her childhood and high school years. She participated in yearly local competitions, studio recitals, small ensembles and accompanied various musical groups including her string-playing siblings.

She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. She has also participated in a two-year internship with an elementary school piano program, as well as taught at a well-established music academy in Charleston, SC.

Rebecca has extensive experience in the area of individual and group piano lessons. She loves classical music, hymns, and popular music.

Her goal and passion is to see children succeed in their piano adventure by learning commitment, developing musical expression, and experiencing the lifelong joy of music.

Hobbies: hiking, gardening, crocheting
Rebecca is married and a “fur mom” to two dogs.

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