Going solo: London College of Music Exams

David Henson
Thursday, October 22, 2020

David Henson, associate professor at LCM and Head of Studies in Performance, Composition and Performing Arts at UWL, introduces the LCM Acting exams, a strong option for extra-curricular drama students

 A student of the Pauline Quirke Academy performs a speech
A student of the Pauline Quirke Academy performs a speech

LCM's graded and diploma qualifications make a distinctive contribution to the narrative of learning within the spoken arts, and enable students to explore their ability to think about the world through the words, thoughts and images of poets and writers.

As the student progresses through the grades, there is a wonderful opportunity not only to explore a distinctively broad stylistic range of repertoire, but to become increasingly aware of their unique potential. By acknowledging the advanced development of expertise and creative ability at each grade, the individual comes to understand the expressive qualities of their body and voice, both technically and artistically.

In the standards set, in structure, and organisation, LCM's graded and diploma qualifications are broadly comparable with those of other awarding bodies offering qualifications in music and drama. However, these syllabuses offer the opportunity to develop pathways into learning that both complement and provide genuine alternatives to the study of the arts within school, FE and HE curricula, and within the context of lifelong learning.

Because of this, these qualifications are capable of being used to extend and enrich full-time education or individual tuition, and offer alternative routes that enable teachers to achieve the objective of equipping young people and adults with highly relevant creative, expressive and technological concepts and skills. Oh, for a lawyer who can communicate truth with passion and conviction or a doctor or nurse who can engage and have empathy with their patient! These examinations are for all, no matter the destiny of the individual.

Supporting portfolio

Candidates are required to produce a portfolio of work (as set out in the syllabus) and bring this along to support their performance and give the assessor an insight into their personal approach to the work.

This is the opportunity to explore the important journey of discovery rather than the factual and intellectual elements of the work. To write about the process undertaken in the learning and speaking of the texts is key to the purpose of the portfolio. A valuable and central component of all the Drama & Communication Exams is the ‘Discussion’ section. This is the opportunity for learners to talk about the works they have explored and share their discoveries and learning experiences with the examiner (exemplar questions are published in the syllabus).

Alan Bennet in his play History Boys wrote ‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’

How wonderful that moment must be when you realise that you are not on your own, and even more, that you are among friends! The portfolio is exactly that opportunity to express and share your ideas with others. With LCM exams you certainly are not on your own.

For candidates wishing to pursue a more business- or work-related option, Oral Communication and the Personal & Professional Communication options stimulate the development of public speaking. There are also associated options for Spoken English in Religion, with a flexible syllabus to embrace all faiths.

What LCM Examinations offer is the potential for learners to be part of a collaborative, creative and artistic community. These examinations offer a chance not only to share personal ideas but an opportunity to explore the joys of the performed word in all its guises.

Exams in a pandemic

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak and the cessation of face-to-face exams during the lockdown period, LCM Examinations has developed two options to enable candidates to continue working and take assessments that are still validated alongside the ordinary exams (especially useful for students applying to university and needing to accrue UCAS points in the United Kingdom).

LCM Exams worked alongside the qualifications bodies and in conjunction with the International School of Musicians (ISOM) to develop an online portal for ‘live’ exams over the internet. We have also developed a pre-recorded option. The advantage of these two new innovations is that teachers and candidates now have access to a greater range of exam times to suit their calendar and where the traditional face-to-face exams may prove difficult to schedule.