ABRSM Diplomas in Performance


  • ARSM           -  Grade 8 practical
  • DipABRSM  -  Grade 8 practical
  • LRSM           -  DipABRSM performance
  • FRSM           -  LRSM performance

ARSM is a performance only diploma launched in 2017.  You may read about it here. In mid-2023, DipABRSM will be phased out and ARSM will replace it as the level before LRSM.  Likely, there will be some revision as to the exam requirements.

No higher grade theory qualification is needed in order to sit for the ABRSM diplomas in Performance.  However, higher grade theory knowledge helps in the understanding and performance of the pieces and also in the Viva Voce section.

What sections are there in an ABRSM diploma exam?

ABRSM diplomas in performance consist of 3 sections:

1.  Recital
2.  Viva Voce and
3.  Quick Study

1. Recital

The recital section of the ABRSM diploma in performance usually involves playing at least 3 pieces of music; they should represent a balanced programme displaying a mixture of different musical periods, styles and moods. 

The recital pieces may be chosen from the repertoire lists starting from page 36 in the ABRSM syllabus here.  It is also possible to play other pieces up to a certain time limit (see page 7-14 of the syllabus above).

The playing standard at diploma level is far higher than at grade 8 level.  Playing the demanding pieces with neat fingerwork and technique, stylistic authenticity and musicality will help you pass the recital.

Recital Lengths

Recital lengths required for ABRSM performance diplomas and Trinity performance diplomas are:


35 min ±10%

ATCL Recital

32-38 min


40 min ±10%

LTCL Recital

37-43 min


50 min ±10%

FTCL Recital

42-48 min

Programme notes and Written Submission

Programme notes or a written submission (for FRSM) are prepared for the examiners.  These notes should give information about the pieces performed and require progressively more detailed and technical information from one level to the next. 

The written submission is handed in when registering for the exam and may not cover all the pieces performed.  It is more analytical and requires more independent thought and research on particular aspects of the performed pieces.

2. Viva Voce

Viva Voce generally involves discussing the pieces performed and the accompanying programme notes with the examiners.  Questions commonly include choice of repertoire, style, musical language, technical aspects and structure.

3. Quick Study

Quick Study involves performing a short piece of music at sight.  The candidate is given 5 min to study and try out the piece before the performance. 

Playing the piece with fundamentals like rhythm, key, general tempo and character in place as well as paying attention to details like dynamics, accents, tempo changes, key changes or time changes are important in this test.

Passing the ABRSM Performance Diploma Exam

A pass in each of the sections - Recital, Viva Voce and Quick Study is required for a pass in the overall exam.  The passing mark is 40%.  If any section is unsuccessful, a retake is allowed within 3 years of the initial attempt.

› ABRSM Performance Diplomas

› ABRSM Performance Diplomas