Female Pianist

Working towards a music examination is a positive experience for many students leading to greater confidence and improved attention to detail. It is also a great way to develop some of the supplementary skills that will lend greater depth to their musicianship, including sight-reading, scales, aural perception, in addition to the theory of music exams.​​

With a range of options to suit all levels and abilities, an exam is a great way to encourage students to develop their skills and confidence.

Music Exams

Opportunities for every student...

Working towards an exam

Music examinations can be an effective way to motivate students to practise as they learn and improve their skills. By working towards carefully structured and progressive syllabus goals, candidates can gain recognition for their achievement, providing a musical foundation for the future. 

Examinations have changed much in the last twenty years with qualifications to suit players of all ages and abilities. From introductory assessments for young players, through a series of eight graded examinations, to professional examinations at diploma level for advanced players. They  also offer much more flexibility with options than ever before, giving candidates the opportunity to choose a pathway that is right for them.

Graded examinations

Graded examinations (or music grades, as they are commonly known) have been offered in the UK for almost 150 years. Grades are suitable for both children and adults and can be sat in piano or music theory; there are also a number of options, particularly in the piano syllabus, allowing students to choose from a huge range of repertoire and supporting tests that work for them. 


Most students follow the traditional route of an exam consisting of three pieces, scales, sight-reading, aural tests and a short discussion: a format that has hardly changed since they were first introduced back in 1888. However, for candidates who prefer not to play scales or to sight-read can take a 'recital grade' instead, allowing them to focus on the performance of four pieces instead.

All examinations offered by London College of Music are recognised and accredited by Ofqual, and can be used for college and university applications. 

Image by Maksym Kaharlytskyi

Diploma exams

With a range of diplomas on offer, including an entry-level qualification at DipLCM, many students now decide to continue their studies after grade 8, whether for their own personal satisfaction or as a foundation towards a career in music.


Options include pathways in piano performance, teaching or accompaniment at one of three diploma levels (DipLCM, ALCM, or LLCM). The preferred route for many students is in performance; here, candidates can choose between a recital option or a shorter performance and the usual sight-reading, scales, study etc.  Some of my students have worked towards teaching diplomas, which require a short lesson demonstration with one of their pupils in the exam room. The examiner will be looking for effective teaching, along with evidence that the candidate has suitable knowledge of the repertoire and clear ideas as to how to solve particular technical or expressive issues in performance.

Image by Claude Gabriel