Final exams privately: Possible? Where?

Edited: August 24, 2018, 1:22 PM · Dear friends,

I am an ex-violin student from Italy. I am now 23 yo and I am studying in a University something completely different, and that's the reason for I left the Conservatory some years ago.

I did, with our Italian old Conservatory System, 8 years out of 10, as an internal student. With the old laws, it was also possible to prepare yourself privatly and just go to the Conservatory to take the main exams, which, if passed, would give you the full titles (including the final year Diploma, which was totally equal to the normal one).

Now, as I said, I left some years ago. Conservatory laws are nowadays different. They are -like almost everywhere, i think- now like universities, with 1st level (3 years) and 2nd level (2 years) courses.

As I am not going to be a professional, I wouldn't like to take those courses. On the other hand, having put so much effort in my musical studies, I would like to somehow complete this path with some sort of degree.

Therefor I was wandering if, as far as you know, is there some nation around Europe where I could travel just to take the examinations. As I keeped playing and studying (a bit :D) I am relatively close to an old italian last year exam, and as I am not going to be a professional it is not so important to do so brilliantly or to be a virtuoso. I would just like to close in my mind this learning pathway, and keep my passion knowing that I achieved it.

Do you know some places that could do for my case and/or could you share how it works in the nations where you are from?

Thank you a lot!

Replies (8)

August 24, 2018, 1:57 PM · Look up ABRSM performance diplomas online. They're UK based but have exam centres in several different places.

I guess the LRSM or FRSM would be most appropriate for your level, but there are plenty of people better informed than me (and extensive documentation) if you need more advice.

August 26, 2018, 2:54 PM · In Denmark, there is no age limits in any field of study. Just call them to talk about your situation, may they will guide you.

August 26, 2018, 4:11 PM · More generally you might start reading the web sites of various conservatories and look at their policies for changing schools. What would it take for them to acknowledge your credits and how much effort you'd have to put in to be allowed to take the exam? If it looks as if there were openness to your idea you could call or write and describe your specific situation. You may have to take some classes in many cases though.
August 28, 2018, 3:23 AM · From your post, it sounds like you just want to do exams and have the piece of paper rather than study university level music, so I would second the ABRSM diplomas which are very international. They cover Australia and US, so I'm sure they do italy). There's info about performance diplomas on their website .

You might also want to check through the grade level violin exam syllabus and the diploma repertoire list to see where you're up to in their system.

Another option is trinity college, but I believe it is generally perceived as a lower standard than ABRSM once you get to higher levels. That said, it's what I use with my students (I mostly teach beginners so take my opinions with a whole handful of salt) if they want to do exams. I like the flexibility of the exams and usually encourage students to compose a piece of their own, which they have as a repertoire option. The info is here:
Any teachers from the UK who can comment on this?

This piano teacher compares some of the syllabuses available in Australia (incl. The English ones):

August 28, 2018, 4:13 AM · People seem to say the LRSM expects a performance level similar to a conservatoire graduate (and DipABRSM that about half way through conservatoire, FRSM at Masters level) though I am not sure the Associated Board itself actually states that anywhere. In any case it only tests performance on one instrument, an actual conservatoire graduate would have had a much richer education most likely including a second instrument, ensemble playing, etc.

However you still can't simply come in and do the LRSM. To enter LRSM you must previously have passed DipABRSM, for which you must have passed Grade 8 on your instrument (and for which you will need to also have Grade 5 Theory). The syllabuses are all easily available online.

I am sure Trinity College of Music wouldn't like the suggestion their qualifications are a lower standard, but would agree they are different. ABRSM tend to take a fairly hard core classical and academic approach, where Trinity seems more flexible - certainly its full time courses include more scope for those whose performance ambitions are in more popular genres. But because the Associated Board represents a consortium of several well known conservatoires its qualifications have a wider recognition.

(Caveat: I am a parent not a teacher!)

August 28, 2018, 6:20 AM · @Jonathan, interesting that the often quoted equivalency levels are not actually stated by the ABRSM itself. The nearest I can find is on page 119 of the syllabus that says that the three diplomas are roughly at the standard of CertHE, honours degree and masters degree but are not equivalent in volume. I think this is just to say how it fits into the UK educational structure and not to claim equivalence.

I've met quite a few A level students with performance diplomas, several of whom were unsuccessful at conservatoire auditions so such an equivalence would be hard to justify!

September 24, 2018, 9:12 AM · Hi everybody, sorry if I am answering so late and thank you all for the answers!

As some of you said, i am looking just for the exam and the piece of paper, as I already had most of my conservatory progression here, but I left before the final exams and with the current laws I would need to apply again for the full 3+2 years (far too much)

I checked the ABRSM Diplomas, and the level I would be looking for, as far as the program is concerned, is either LRSM or FRSM. There is the problem that I should demonstrate having achieved the previous levels, and for that I could ask my conservatory to release me some certificates.

They would be good, and even if I should for example do the LRSM first and then go there again for the FRSM it would be theorically feasible.

Next question is: here in Italy, if you apply for a professional orchestra (a "serious" one, such as La Scala, or Santa Cecilia, or San Carlo), they are requiring you a conservatory degree "or equivalent title". Do you have experience about the validity of those diplomas in these contexts?

September 24, 2018, 11:54 AM · Roberto, i don't have time to read all the above posts, but very recently i asked your same identical question in a conservatory (Adria, Rovigo), and they instructed me on the way to take "license" exams privately: 5th, 8th years and final diploma, in their conservatory.

Two sessions per year, and all the costs, etc....... :)

As far as i understand, the equivalent of this "vecchio ordinamento"'s degree is like the actual "triennio".

If you need to know what i gathered from their segretery, you can contact me by email:
Obviously we can talk in native language...... :)

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