Thoughts about piano diploma

Have you ever wonder what’s next after completing your grade 8 piano?

Trinity College London, London College of Music and ABRSM provide diplomas which lead to the pathway of professional musicianship. Trinity exam board provide 3 levels of diploma: ATCL, LTCL and FTCL. I am going to share my thoughts on ATCL.

ATCL exam consists of 32-38 minutes recital and candidates are free to pick pieces that are listed in the repertoire list. If you wish to pick something out of the list, you may do so by submitting the whole programme for approval. As for the marking scheme, some changes have been made by the examination board, 96% for recital and 4% for programme & planning. Previously, it was 90% and 10% respectively. In order to pass, one must obtains at least 60% and 80%-100% would be distinction.

Now, to my own experience in taking ATCL exam.

First of all, I managed to pass my ATCL in the mid of 2019 and it took me about 1 year 6 months to prepare this exam. It was not an easy task to complete ATCL. What I can say is, you have to put a lot of efforts in preparing this exam. The examiner will not only assess your technical skills, but also communication and musical sense.


CONSISTENCY is extremely important. I usually allocate 2 – 3 hours everyday to practise. I would pick up those parts that are difficult (technically demanding) to practise before running through the whole piece.


By listening and watching video, we could learn how to express the music because this is something that cannot be taught in lessons. You have to feel it by yourself; how you want the melody be sung? What are you trying to convey? Is it a happy, sad or angry mood?…. This is where dynamics and articulation play a big role in making the music more interesting.


Try to record your own playing and watch it back. This will help you to identify your weakness and try to improve during the next practice session.

Lastly, be confident with your own playing during the exam day!

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