Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community polls, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

UK ABRSM Qualifications Recognition in USA

RichardHKRichardHK Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2010 in Music Major
My boy, as noted in other open threads here, has completed his Associate Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) Diploma in Piano Performance. He completed that in 2007 when he was 15 years old. He is sitting for his LRSM (Licentiate...) later this year, and according to UK qualifications benchmarks, the LRSM is equivalent to Degree level for performance. He has been playing since age 5.

When I complete our college survey I will be asking college admissions folk if ABRSM qualifications earn any form of credit. But so far, it seems that ABRSM does not feature in the US at all. Even his new US boarding school know nothing about it.

Does anyone know of any good colleges that have given credit for this hard work? I know an audition will be used for admission, but an LRSM is a high achievement itself.

Richard
Hong Kong
Post edited by RichardHK on
«1

Replies to: UK ABRSM Qualifications Recognition in USA

  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    Richard, I would suggest you contact the institutions you are interested in directly.
    LRSM is equivalent to Degree level for performance.

    If it is at the "degree" level, the closet US equivalent is the Performer's Diploma, Performer's Certificate, or Certificate of Performance. There appears to be no standard title, but this is normally a three year non academic intensive performance study offered by a number of conservatory, conservatory level programs.

    As to credit being given, again it will be school specific. It is an accomplishment, but from my observations as a layman it may or may not reduce credit load in a baccalaureate music program. Specifics will in all probabilty include a review of curriculum, including course descriptions and syllabi. It might enable him to "test out" of some lower level requirements.

    Again, I offer these comments as an informed layman, not as a professional.
  • fiddlestixfiddlestix Posts: 218Registered User Junior Member
    Hi Richard,

    I know something about the violin ABRSM system. There are a very few US based private teachers use the system as their curriculum base for their private studios. The curriculum leads to a reasonably well rounded musician due to the theory and musicianship requirements, but the actual playing level reached, even at the top ABRSM grades/diplomas is at the low end of what many US violin kids will reach before they audition at top conservatories. As I recall, the last time I looked at the literature played for the highest level tests the repertoire was what I would expect out of a high school freshman/sophomore (14 -15 year old perhaps like your S!) who is a good violin student and has been studying with one of the many fine US teachers who regularly send kids on to conservatory. There wouldn't be any "credit" as such for these accomplishments - just considered necessary background in preparation for advanced applied music study. It's been a while since I explored incorporatig some ABRSM material - things may have changed.

    I don't know how closely the violin playing expectations track the piano curriculum. If you could post a link or indicate some of the required test pieces, I'm sure some of the piano Moms/Dads/students can tell you if the repertoire is typical of auditioning music majors or not.
  • fiddlestixfiddlestix Posts: 218Registered User Junior Member
    Since I suspect most of us Americans aren't highly familiar with the ABRSM syllabus & levels, I had another thought-

    I believe another way to interpret your question, leaving out specific references to ABRSM level accompishments, is:

    Are there any American colleges that give course credit to musicians for the playing level they demonstrate during the admission process?

    In my experience - at least at music schools/departments and conservatories, I am unaware of credit toward applied music (lesson/jury) requirements being granted to an applicant. Kids come into music school, even the top, top, top conservatories, with differing levels of playing and differing breadth of repertoire development. For example, at the highest levels, some enter Juilliard, etc with professional management and careers in process. I'm not aware of any, even such as those, who have been granted reduced requirments for the applied music credit necessary to complete a BM (or Artist's or Performance Diploma/ Certificate). It's just expected that they will continue their stellar progress at the college/conservatory level!
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    fiddlestix elaborates on some points I was attempting to make:
    In my experience - at least at music schools/departments and conservatories, I am unaware of credit toward applied music (lesson/jury) requirements being granted to an applicant. Kids come into music school, even the top, top, top conservatories, with differing levels of playing and differing breadth of repertoire development. For example, at the highest levels, some enter Juilliard, etc with professional management and careers in process. I'm not aware of any, even such as those, who have been granted reduced requirments for the applied music credit necessary to complete a BM (or Artist's or Performance Diploma/ Certificate). It's just expected that they will continue their stellar progress at the college/conservatory level!

    Perhaps I should have been more specific than
    Specifics will in all probabilty include a review of curriculum, including course descriptions and syllabi. It might enable him to "test out" of some lower level requirements.

    To flesh it out, I was speaking along the potential lines of some elementary theory, aural and piano/keyboard skills. These would be subject to whatever placement test or "test out" procedures the institutional policies dictate. My conjecture was not meant to infer that performance requirements, studio classes, individualized instructional hours, ensemble or other performance obligations would be waived.

    Perhaps I was unclear.

    Again, I would suggest that the specifics of the licentiate be addressed directly with the music administration of the schools which interest you(r son).

    Institutional policies can only be guessed at unless they're outlined and detailed in the undergrad handbook or other operative official document.

    It may be worth discussing, but I would also expect you might have to go through a layer or two of administration to get a definitive answer.
  • RichardHKRichardHK Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    violada and fiddlestix: Thanks for your time and valuable feedback. Understand the situation much better now, and yes, I do need to find the right college and right people to talk to. And as you say, I will certainly query colleges for their take on some form of credit earned from the admission process audition, if nothing else!

    If the lad's diploma work assists him to enter a good college, that is worthwhile of course, and as you say an extension of his skills to follow. Just dad worrying about how to pay for it all. :(

    Here are the pieces he is playing this year for his LRSM qualification:

    Mozart - Sonata in C minor (2nd part of the C minor Fantasy) K457
    Chopin - Scherzo no.2 in Bflat Minor Opus 23
    Debussy - Isle of Joy

    A full repertoire list, if any piano advisors can review/comment on level:

    http://www.neuromagic.hk/download/LRSM-Piano-Repertoire.pdf

    Thanks again for your help. Very much appreciated. Doing college research from such a distance is difficult, but with such admirable help here, not so daunting after all. :)
  • RichardHKRichardHK Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    Dear All,

    Further to earlier ABRSM query above I will be sending questions on topic this week directly to selected visit schools. We will be visiting Boston and NY area end this month.

    But my boy has now decided on pursuing a BM composition starting 2010, so one brand new query has surfaced concerning the LRSM Piano Performance qualification:

    Q: As piano performance will not be tested for composition entrance, what value would an LRSM (equivalent to UK music degree level) hold? My boy was going to sit LRSM in August this year but he is now being advised to not bother.

    My Answer: Having spent 12+ years on piano performance and only 5 months away from LRSM exam, it makes good sense to finish the LRSM end August, and then jump in head first into composition to complete necessary samples for applications end 2009. Son has already mastered all pieces and only has continued polishing practice and music knowledge/history topics (related to pieces) to do. If he drops LRSM now, he freezes his piano performance 'qualification' at his 2007 DipABRSM college entry level. By the time he completes a BM Composition, he may not have advanced his piano performance any further.

    His US teachers' Answer: As composition is son's chosen college subject (2010 entry) he should focus on composition to ensure entry to good college. If he is not wanting to pursue piano performance further, doing the LRSM has limited value at this time.

    My response: Piano performance qualifications to LRSM/degree level and music theory college level (AP + ABRSM Gr8) already show adequate musical preparation together with reasonable composition examples from now till end 2009 (application time). Once he has done the LRSM he has a piano performance level to either build on later at college (if needed) or leave as is. And who knows, he may even leave the US and wish he had completed his UK ABRSM exam this year! (Have advised him that education in USA does not imply permanent residence. I know of persons being deported for no reason other than we have plenty of good 'X' graduates already. Therin lies another topic!)

    Does the above make any sense? Got to pay the LRSM exam fee before 12th, and if boy takes the easy route now (dropping LRSM) he may forever regret not putting the LRSM behind him in 2009.

    Look forward to any more comments.

    Richard
    Hong Kong
  • violadadvioladad Posts: 6,641Registered User Senior Member
    I'm neither an educator or a musician, nor familiar with the certification levels and parameters you cite. I'm just a parent.
    Having spent 12+ years on piano performance and only 5 months away from LRSM exam, it makes good sense to finish the LRSM end August...

    Taking the certification is the end of a particular musical journey. A feeling of accomplishment, a goal, and end in an of itself in the form of a recognized document. I can't speak to it's value, if any, in either a performance based or composition music undergrad admit process other than as a benchmark of skill and proficiency within a specified set of parameters.
    His US teachers' Answer: As composition is son's chosen college subject (2010 entry) he should focus on composition to ensure entry to good college. If he is not wanting to pursue piano performance further, doing the LRSM has limited value at this time.

    The offset to this is what has been his experience in composition to date? Is he a neophyte, a dabbler, or does he show promise and potential. Maybe I'm off base, but unless he has been involved in a compositional process actively throughout his development, a few months of intensive concentration is no guarantee.

    I don't see performance and composition as being mutually exclusive pursuits here. There are technical, artistic and creative processes involved in both disciplines. One hand washes the other.

    But again, I'm neither a musician or an educator. It's just my $.02.
  • BassDadBassDad Posts: 5,381Registered User Senior Member
    It is basically a question of time. As you know, he will need a portfolio of compositions by the end of the year. Has your son already composed anything at all that might be useful toward that end? Having to produce the entire portfolio in a matter of a few months could be quite stressful, particularly if he is inexperienced at composition.

    Some composers seem to be able to work things out internally as they go about their daily routine. Others have to shut out everything else and spend lots of time trying various ideas until they hit on something that works. Unless he knows from experience that he can compose something good under time pressure, he should already be trying to put together some ideas for the specific compositions he will need to complete this year. If he finds that those ideas come quickly and that the hardest part is finding the time to write them all down, then he is probably OK to complete the LRSM. If he finds the process very slow going, then perhaps the US teachers have a valid point.
  • fiddlestixfiddlestix Posts: 218Registered User Junior Member
    Hi Richard,

    First, I can't disagree with either of the above posters. I also think that your final answer will depend on your son's ability to pursue advanced piano performance and composition portfolio development simultaneously - even if only for a limited amount of time.

    I can understand your desire to have son complete the LRSM, but I do believe (as you have been finding) that the certification is not widely understood and may not be widely valued in the US. This lack of recognition may be influencing the answers you receive from US teachers. As you note, if he lives outside the US in a country where the ABRSM system is widely used, the LRSM may have more "value" on a resume. Any crystal balls out there that can predict future residency?

    Laying aside the specific question of the licentiate, I'm also thinking of your question from personal experience - and I know many others have faced the same situation. One of my kids was both an excellent violinist and pianist, but ultimately wanted to go the violin route. As the end of high school ramped up, we had to face the reality that the violin would fail to reach the highest level possible before auditions if the piano was also maintained at a high level. So, with great regret, piano was dropped to accommodate violin for several years. In hindsight, this was one of the best decisions we made, it would not have been in the best interest of this kid to try to do both simultaneously under the other college audition pressures. At the time, it was very hard to see the piano accomplishments cease - not a LRSM in question, but the kid had been a piano competition winner.

    Good luck to you and your son!
  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- Posts: 6,350Registered User Senior Member
    If he could do both, with sanity intact, I would surely vote for that. There are kids who would be able to do so, but only you know how well he can multi-task, how much time and other commitments he has, and to some extent , how quickly he can accomplish difficult tasks. If he is able to do it, I think finishing the LRSM would make sense, especially since he is so close to completion.

    In terms of repertoire, the Scherzo is one of the most well known of Chopin's scherzos, but is fully appropriate for audition repertoire, as is the Mozart.
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Posts: 1,843Registered User Senior Member
    Q: As piano performance will not be tested for composition entrance, what value would an LRSM (equivalent to UK music degree level) hold?

    Actually most (although not all) of the programs to which my S applied for a BM in composition required either an audition on his primary instrument, or a recording and repertoire list proving his ability to play. Composers are required in most programs to participate in ensembles to meet their graduation requirements. (Sometimes pianists sing instead of playing.)
  • RichardHKRichardHK Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks again all for your most thoughtful and useful feedback.

    My son has completed several compositions for his June 2008 UK GCSE Music exam, so does have something to work on. He does have the ability to think out stuff in his head and uses Sibelius to write it up without needing to actually play, which is why I believe he could handle the LRSM and composition preps comfortably in time available.

    I have asked the lad to make his compositions available to his teachers for their assessment of work needed. Turns out he has yet to do that despite one teacher asking for same several months ago! Teenagers!

    Having studied more on audition needs, yes, he really does need to play some piano. :) Maybe that will help him go for LRSM. I have also given him the repertoire pieces for Juilliard that includes a number of LRSM and Fellow FRSM level pieces which will help him see where he stands ref conservatory entrance needs.

    Personally, I do see the LRSM as some kind of achievement worth having for him. And there is a chance he could leave the US after college if he could not get a working visa. Have a friend whoes daughter was forced to leave the US after several years of science study, who had got a sponsored research job, but was told US citizens could be found to do same job. On that score, music is not a strong contender for future US citizenship. However much my boy loves the States. :(

    Will be discussing topic with boy and teachers this week as well as putting topic to several potential colleges to help. Will update you all as appropriate to help others out there who face same problem.
  • RichardHKRichardHK Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    Ref Violadad's comment on composition experience to date.
    And SpiritManager S's experience with a BM Composition application.

    Plenty of courses, books, ABRSM/other curricula, and more for instrumental and vocal music training from an early age through to college application. So no problem to know what is expected for audition purposes. Again, my boy is Ok there if he was to pursue a piano performance BM.

    But what is there for composition to compare with? Don't know of anyone starting to study and/or practice composition from an early age, or even from ten years old or so. The nearest I can see is 'Music Theory' testing that accompanies instrumental courses, plus Music Classes at secondary school culminating in an exam at age 16 where compositions are actually needed.

    What I am getting at, is what level of composition is expected? eg SpiritManager, what did your Son deliver for his admission application? When did he start composing? Are there any examples out there to compare with?

    Does that make any sense? Can you sense the pressure Dad is under? :)
  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager Posts: 1,843Registered User Senior Member
    Composition applicants have a wide range of experience - from very little to semi-professional. All colleges will require at least 3 scores with recordings. Some will specify a number, others will leave it up to the applicant. The recordings can be live recordings, or midi instruments. It is recommended to have at least one live recording. Some colleges will require that one of the scores be hand-written but most do not. Northwestern requires a graded essay, preferably on a music topic. Most do not. Some require copies of programs, award notices, clippings. Oberlin requires a list of every contemporary composer you've ever heard. Some of the conservatories will require a live test - such as writing a fugue on the spot, or composing something overnight. None of the programs my son applied to asked for anything like that. (He thought it would have been fun, though.) You can actually learn quite a bit about a program just by their requirements.
  • HudebnikaHudebnika Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    Check out Lipscomb University. They require grade 8 to enter their music programme.
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.