Diploma #6 – the result!


I’m afraid this post is all about self-advertisement. I was really surprised when an envelope from Trinity College of Music dropped through my letterbox this morning. I wasn’t expecting exam appointments for students this soon, and I certainly wasn’t expecting my Licentiate Diploma result (it was a full 6 weeks before I received my ATCL results).

I didn’t bother to read the exam report. The numbers at the bottom are what matter in these situations! 84% – Distinction. I admit I was surprised. A colleague told me to expect to drop a grade in my second diploma, and my preparation in the days leading up the exam this time wasn’t ideal:  my husband had to go into hospital for heart surgery and then we both came down with horrible chest infections. I went into the exam dosed up on Sudafed and paracetomol, and when I played I felt strangely disconnected. In warm up, I messed up four bars of the Rachmaninov Etude Tableau in E flat (op 33). Always the bug-bear of the programme, the piece felt “jinxed” because it was the only part of my programme I had not put before an audience (except my teacher, a couple of colleagues and the family). Perhaps it was my “que sera sera” attitude (quoting Doris Day!) that did it, for on the report the examiner praised this piece for its “good impetus and energy, with orchestral textures well realised”.

The biggest thanks must go to my teacher, Penelope Roskell, who took me on in November 2008 as a nervous adult who, after 25 years without piano lessons, had developed some very bad habits, and who, through her support and encouragement and expert teaching, has transformed me into a confident and fluent pianist. I would also like to thank those colleagues and friends who heard my diploma programme and who offered support and advice in the last weeks before the exam (you know who you are!). Special thanks also to my piano chum and companion in piano adventures, Lorraine Liyanage, who got me out of my “cave” and onto the stage, peforming in various concerts and events with her and her students and friends. This experience has undoubtedly helped me overcome my shyness and performance anxiety, and has taught me that performing is fun! I must also thank my husband, who knows nothing about classical music, but who knows a lot about the pieces I put into my diploma programme, who, every morning before work, would ask me what I would be practising that day, and who checked up on me when he came home from work with the question “So, what did you practice today?”. He was my “coach” and he dealt with my mood swings and crises of confidence like a professional.

So, what next? At at recent piano course, one of the other students asked me if I was going to try for the Fellowship. To be honest, I don’t know, at this stage.  It is another huge step up from the Licentiate and the repertoire is very challenging. But maybe I’ll start learning some of it and see how I feel. The important thing is to keep playing!

Hear my Diploma programme (minus Rachmaninov E flat Etude Tableau) here:

The programme running order is:

Bach – Concerto in D minor after Marcello, BWV974

Takemitsu – Rain Tree Sketch II

Mozart – Rondo in A minor K511

Liszt – Sonetto 104 del Petrarca

Rachmaninov – Etude-Tableau Op 33,  No. 8 in G minor


  1. Congratulations from one who’s also taken up piano lessons again after 25 years (what is it about us folk that’s all the same? See http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=39420.0), taking DipABRSM this summer, long-suffering spouse (a “piano widow”), multiple “outings” planned for the repertoire, and a great teacher. You have clearly worked very hard on your pieces.

    • Thank you, and good luck with your diploma. The right teacher is crucial, as well as careful preparation, deep practising and plenty of practice performances ahead of the diploma recital.

  2. Well done Fran! Having heard your rain tree sketch at Penelope’s concert I knew you would do really well! You are thoughtful and meticulous in your preparation,a skill most of us still need to develop.
    I am considering starting an alternative blog called ‘The Reckless Pianist’! You are certainly capable of fellowship – but there is better repertoire out there to learn, so just enjoy the exhilaration of playing well.

    Hope to meet again soon


    • Hi Marie

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments! It was great to meet you again at Penelope’s and to hear what you’re working on. Inspired by Anne, I’m starting on the Op 110 (it’s on the F syllabus, but I’m not making any firm plans……..yet!). Fran x

  3. Oh blow the Fellowship. You enjoy performing now so get out there more often and do it. Start organising to do regular recitals. Plenty of music societies that would love to have you on their programme.

  4. Congratulations and thank you for posting the recordings – a pleasure to listen to!

  5. Many congratulations. I remember doing my LRAM the day after a general anaesthetic to remove 3 impacted Wisdom Teeth back in 1976. I was doped to the eyeballs but somehow survived: it is amazing what we CAN do when we try! Well done!

  6. Congratulations! Its no surprise of course that your fine aesthetic sense and technical accomplishment should merit a distinction.

Comments are closed.