Honours and awards: Fellowship honoris causa of the Victoria College of Music

The Victoria College of Music has awarded a Fellowship honoris causa to me in recognition of services to the Performing Arts.

The Victoria College of Music was established in 1890 and specialises in external examinations in music and speech subjects in Centres throughout the United Kingdom and in some countries overseas. Its qualifications and syllabuses are approved for use in schools under the Education Reform Act 1988.

The Victoria College of Music is nowadays active only as an examining body; however, earlier in its foundation it had performed many of the other functions of a conservatoire. Its founding Principal was Dr J.H. Lewis, who remained in charge of the VCM for thirty-four years. From its outset the mission of the VCM has been extremely broadly-based, so that, as well as examining in all musical disciplines, it also examines in Bible reading and in a range of speech and drama subjects, currently including Shakespeare, mime, Group Discussion and Business English, and interview technique.

Although the local grades 1 to 8 of the VCM are intended to be comparable in standard with the equivalently-named examinations of other examination boards, special attention is given to the early grades. Grades 1 and 2 are supplemented by Grades 1A and 2A, thus offering particular encouragement to young children. The College is also active in enabling candidates with a disability to take its examinations. There is a Grade 9 examination, which provides a bridge to the diploma of AVCM, as well as a series of medal awards. The College of Violinists, incorporated into the VCM, is no longer active as an independent body, although its diplomas are still used by the VCM as senior honorary awards.

The College maintains the London Music Press, which is the in-house publisher of music for its examinations, and keeps in touch with teachers via its newsletter “College Noticeboard”. A widespread network of local secretaries is used to administer its examinations, which are usually held twice a year. The certificate design used for diplomas is identical to that first established in 1890.