Victoria College of Music, London
Victoria College of Music & Drama, London Ltd., is an examining body which offers independent graded exams, medals and diplomas in music, speech and drama in the UK and selected other countries such as the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Sri Lanka. Formed in 1890 and incorporated in 1891, the College is now solely an examining body and no longer operates a full-time teaching institution, though in its early years offered many of the services of a full conservatoire. Throughout the early and mid-twentieth century the College offered correspondence courses in theory and written subjects, maintained a network of teachers with whom tuition could be arranged both in London and local centres, and arranged summer schools and other residential courses in various disciplines. However following the Second World War Victoria College of Music has focused upon its work in the examining field and developing syllabuses as required.
From its founding the college has had a mission based upon the development of the candidate. As a result the college examines in a range of subjects, including many not offered by other boards such as contrabassoon, mandolin and ukulele, as well as a range of speech and drama subjects. In particular the college has a policy of introducing new subjects where requested to meet the needs of teachers and to match new innovations in educational policy. Examples include the new options for large ensembles and group examination within ocarina playing to take into account the current UK government policy on whole class instrumental and vocal teaching.
At present the college's personnel comprises the following staff:
Principal: Dr Martin Ellerby DMA FVCM HonVCM GLCM LMusLCM FTCL
Chief Executive: Robin Wood HonVCM FVCM FCV FInstSMM ALAM FRSA
Chief Examiner: Claire Pashley MA BA(Hons) HonVCM FVCM PGCE LTCL ALCM(TD)
Senior Examiner in Music, Brass and Pipe Organ Advisor: Stewart Thompson BA(Hons) CT,FVCM FIGOC FSCO FMCM FCollT ACIEA
Senior Examiner in Speech and Drama: Stuart Morrison MA PGCE HonVCM FVCM(TD)(Hons) LVCMEd(Hons) ALAM ALCM(TD)FIfL FRSA
Schools Curriculum Advisor: June Bonfield-Brown BA(Mus)(Open), MEd(Open) BA(Hons) LMusEdASMC(Hons) HonFNMSM, CT,FVCM
Board of Advisors
Theory of Music Advisor: Dr Donald Sammons PhD BMus HonVCM FVCM GLCM FLCM FTSC LMusTCL ACP FRSA LRSM
Piano and Harpsichord Advisor: Geoffrey Willett BA LRAM ARCM LGSM LTCL ALCM Cert Ed
Plucked Strings and Contemporary Theory Advisor: Colin R. Tribe BEd(Hons) FVCM FRSA
Orchestral Strings Advisor: Elizabeth Spear MusB(Hons) PGCE
Accordion Advisor: Frederick Parnell HonVCM CT FVCM LBCA
Musical Theatre, Electronic Organ and Contemporary Vocals Advisor: Catherine Thompson CT,FVCM(TD) FMCM LVCM(Hons) AVCM
Mandolin Advisor: Barbara Pommerenke-Steel BEd
Percussion Advisor: Vacant
Keyboard Advisor: Diane Barton CT,FVCM DipEd
Recorder Advisor: Nigel Martin GBSM FVCM(Hons) FTCL FLCM LGSM LLCM(TD) ARCM
Saxophone Advisor: Rachael Forsyth BA(Hons)
In addition there is the Board of Examiners and a network of local secretaries.
As a result of its broad remit Victoria College of Music offers a range of subjects including all traditional musical disciplines, as well as more unusual ones including contrabassoon, ukulele, self-accompanied singing and mandolin. The board was a pioneer in the examination of electronic organ and still maintains a full syllabus for this instrument, as well as being the first board to offer examinations in electronic keyboard to diploma level. However the activities of the college are not confined to the sphere of music and it is very active in the field of speech and drama, offering a range of examinations in subjects as diverse as Business Speaking, Acting, Bible Reading, Speech, and Drama Production. Many of these fields are available in the full range of examinations, diplomas and medals, again a distinguishing feature of Victoria College. Certain of the diplomas in speech and drama carry credits for Open University study and are also recognized by the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama. Piano is also on offer
Examinations and Diplomas
The College has a full range of examinations, with special emphasis on encouraging young beginners. This has resulted in the four introductory grades available for most subjects at First Steps, Preliminary, Preparatory and Advanced Preparatory. This are aimed at players within the first twelve months of playing, acknowledging that it can take up to 18 months to reach the required standard for grade 1 level with much material specially composed by the Colleges professional advisors to aid development in the first stages of playing. Both pupils and parents may want to see concrete signs of progress and these short exams provide that, introducing all the skills required in later levels at an appropriate pace. Following on from these introductory grades are the standard grades 1 to 8, available in music subjects and speech and drama.
Parallel to the graded examinations is a series of medals that take the form of recitals with theory questions drawing from the same repertoire but without scales, arpeggios or musicianship tests It is also available as an additional qualification for those who take the graded exams. Medals have been awarded from the earliest years of the College's existence. The medal examinations are:
- Junior Bronze Medal
- Junior Silver Medal
- Bronze Medal
- Silver Medal
- Gold Medal
- Platinum Medal
For medals the pass mark is 75%
The College has a full system of diploma examinations, available in most fields. This is the followed by the first full diploma, the Diploma of Victoria College of Music (DipVCM) which carries with it the right to post-nominal letters and reduced academic dress. This is followed by the standard three diplomas of Associate (AVCM), Licentiate (LVCM) and Fellow (FVCM) which all carry post-nominal letters and academic dress. These are available in all fields as performers' or teachers' diplomas, as well as by composition, conducting, research or theory. There also exists the award of Certificated Teacher (CT,VCM) which is an award based upon teaching ability and the Honorary Life Membership (HonVCM) for those who have given many years service to the College as teachers, local secretary, examiner etc. Both these carry post-nominal letters. FVCM is also awarded as an honorary award from time to time for distinguished service to the College. Some diplomas also carry the Ed. Suffix for in Education. However teachers and education diplomas do not confer UK Qualified Teacher Status, rather they show that the examiner would recommend them to a prospective student. In addition the diplomas of Associate (ACV) and Licentiate (LCV) of the College of Violinists are available as a performance diploma to string players, while Fellow of the College of Violinists (FCV) is awarded purely for services to the arts.
A full list of 2014 Exam Fees can be found on the vcmexams.com website:
London Music Press
London Music Press is the publishing arm of the College and was set up in the early 20th century to provide an inexpensive means of supplying music for Victoria College examinations. New editions of classic repertoire are published, as are new arrangements for different instruments and new contemporary music written especially for the College’s examinations. A collaboration with a separately run vcmpublications.co.uk saw a new line of publications including tutor books for various subjects, as well as new exam sheets for most disciplines.