The Guide To Music Diploma Certification

Have you come across music teachers’ qualifications like DipABRSM, LRSM, LTCL, LLCM… and wonder what do all of these names stand for?

And if you’re a student pursuing music certification, what are the certification out there for you?

Let this guide explains the different music qualifications, the levels of certification by different music examination boards.

There are many examination boards in the world, but we will explain the most popular ones taken in Singapore and neighbouring countries.

Table of Contents

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What is ABRSM?

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What is ARSM, DipABRSM, LRSM, FRSM?

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What is Trinity College London?

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What is ATCL, AMusTCL, LTCL, LMusTCL, FTCL?

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What is London College of Music?

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What is DipLCM, ALCM, LLCM, FLCM?

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FAQ

What is ABRSM?

ABRSM stands for Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. We usually call them ‘AB’ or ‘ABRSM’.

Students will start with grading from Grade 1, all the way to Grade 8. For both practical and theory. 

This is the most common examination board in Singapore. Probably taken by your teacher, or your teacher’s teacher 🙂

After Grade 8 comes the Diploma certifications – ARSM, DipABRSM, LRSM, FRSM. For Diploma in Performance and Diploma in Teaching.

What is ARSM, DipABRSM, LRSM, FRSM? 

ARSM Diploma is a performance only diploma called Associate of the Royal Schools of Music.

ARSM is introduced to help bridge the student’s progress between Grade 8 and DipABRSM so that it is more manageable and it’ll help students transit more smoothly between grades.

Next is the 3 levels of Diplomas by ABRSM:
1. DipABRSM: Diploma of The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
2. LRSM: Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music
3. FRSM: Fellowship of the Royal Schools of Music

ABRSM offers diplomas in performance and diploma in teaching.

To acquire a ABRSM diploma, it includes compiling a balanced recital programme, playing the pieces with musical interpretation and playing on stage as though it is a solo. Other than playing a recital, one must undergo a quick study test as well as viva voce(oral examination). The examinations involves a recital, a viva voce, submission of programme notes and a quick study, of a standard equivalent to around Grade 6, after five minutes preparation time.

DipABRSM is roughly equivalent to a successful first year of a music degree of a music conservatory
LRSM is equivalent to the third Year (Final Year) of a music degree of a music conservatory
FRSM is equivalent to the first year of a master degree of a music conservatory

What is Trinity College London?

Trinity College London is another popular examination board in Singapore and the region. We usually call them ‘Trinity’, ‘TCL’, or ‘Trinity College’

Students will start with grading from Grade 1, all the way to Grade 8. For both practical and theory.

After Grade 8 comes the Diploma certifications – ATCL, AMusTCL, LTCL, LMusTCL, FTCL. Trinity offers diplomas in performance, diploma in theory, and diploma in teaching. 

What is ATCL, AMusTCL, LTCL, LMusTCL, FTCL? 

Trinity College offers Diplomas in Performance, Diploma in Theory, and Diploma in Teaching.

There are 3 levels of Diplomas by Trinity College London:
1. ATCL or AMusTCL (Theory): Associate of Trinity College London 
2. LTCL or LMusTCL (Theory) : Licentiate of Trinity College London
3. FTCL: Fellowship of Trinity College London (Performance only)

The music performance diplomas by Trinity are relatively similar to the ones of ABRSM. The only difference is that the Trinity board examinations only consist of 2 parts. The recital and programme planning. The Trinity Board examinations are for those who are seeking to have a professional understanding in music and also those who wishes to have themselves involved in professional teachings in the music industry.

ATCL is roughly equivalent to a successful first year of a music degree of a music conservatory
LTCL is equivalent to the third Year (Final Year) of a music degree of a music conservatory
FTCL is equivalent to the first year of a master degree of a music conservatory

What is London College Of Music?

London College of Music is not as common in Singapore, but is gaining popularity among students here too. It is one of eight separate schools that make up the University of West London. Hence, you’ll also see ‘University of West London’ in the music certificates. 

We usually call them ‘LCM’, or ‘London College of Music’. 

There are LCM Piano grades, from Grade 1 to 8.

After that will be four performance diplomas and three teaching diplomas.

What is DipLCM, ALCM, LLCM, FLCM? 

Here’s the diplomas offered by London College of Music:

1. DipLCM: Diploma of the London College of Music (Performance & Teaching)
2. ALCM: Associate of the London College of Music (Performance & Teaching)
3. LLCM: Licentiate of the London College of Music (Performance & Teaching)
4. FLCM: Fellow of the London College of Music (Performance Only)

London College of Music diplomas are internationally recognised, and include composition, conducting, thesis and theoretical diplomas as well as performing and teaching diplomas in all instruments and drama/communication subjects.

DipLCM is roughly equivalent to a successful first year of a music degree of a music conservatory
ALCM is equivalent to a successful second year of a music degree of a music conservatory
LLCM is equivalent to the final year of a music degree of a music conservatory
FLCM is equivalent to the first year of a master degree of a music conservatory

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between the three music examination boards?

All the three music examination boards are internationally recognised, and have a long history of grading music students. Their grading levels are almost equivalent of one another – ABRSM Grade 8 is the same level as Trinity Grade 8 and LCM Grade 8.

The main differences lie in the exam syllabus, the pre-requisite, and the exam repertoire.

Are there about other music examination boards?

Yes. Beside ABRSM, Trinity and London College of Music, there are also other music examination boards like:

ANZCA – Australian New Zealand Cultural Association:
Their exam syllabus is more on modern, contemporary music, which include a variety of pieces like Blues, Jazz, Boogie, Ragtime, Latin…etc

Trinity College London, Rock and Pop:
Their exam focus more on keyboard accompaniment for Rock and pop genre. More suitable for students who prefer Rock and pop music.

Rockschool:
Rockschool is also a Rock and pop music exam, just like Trinity College Rock and Pop, but with different exam song choices and exam components.

There are surely more music examination boards out there, and you don’t have to go for all of them. Most importantly is to choose one that suits your goals and interest.

My child has taken exams conducted by her own music school. Are they recognised?

Yes, there are music schools who set their own exams internally for their students, but that is an internal exam based on their own set of guidelines. Likely they are recognised within the school only. 

Which music examination board or diploma should I take?

Every music examination board has its own set of syllabus and components for their music exams. An experienced teacher is able to advise you on the certification and music examination board based on your goals.

You can also send in your request and we can assist you with an experienced teacher for your music diploma studies.

 

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