Introducing the New DipRIAM


April 2016

Words by
Emer Nestor

Photos by
Frances Marshall

The Royal Irish Academy has added a fresh new teaching diploma to its syllabus—the DipRIAM. Sitting comfortably between the Grade 8 examination and Associate teaching diploma, the recent addition offers a new qualification that meets the needs of diligent music teachers around the country who have not attained a recognised teaching qualification.

Speaking on behalf of the RIAM Teaching Network, Dr Jennifer O’Connor-Madsen remarks that the DipRIAM is especially relevant to the teacher “who has a real affinity for pedagogy, but is perhaps a little more nervous as a performer—this diploma gives them a chance to build their confidence, since the performance requirement is just grade 5”. For RIAM Director Deborah Kelleher, the DipRIAM encourages teachers “to strive towards ever higher professional standards for the benefit of their students”.

The brainchild of Réamonn Keary and Gráinne Deery, the DipRIAM will allow a teacher to reflect on their teaching methods and the needs of their students, while also enhancing their own professional development. An interesting new component has been added to the assessment structure, which will incorporate case studies and videos of teaching practice. Throughout the syllabus much emphasis is placed on cultivating a musical approach to teaching and learning. The syllabus also acknowledges the fact that successful teachers can differ widely in their approach, and so it encourages teachers to find and explore the style and methods of teaching most suitable to them. The cycle of planning, reflecting, and evaluating, encourages teachers to think about how to approach specific techniques, and how to cultivate musicality in their students. As the DipRIAM syllabus is deliberately tailored around the Local Centre Examination syllabus, many of the online resources provided by the RIAM Teaching and Learning Network will be of direct relevance to DipRIAM candidates.


Prerequisites for eligibility in applying for the DipRIAM include:

• Candidates must be aged 18 years or over at the time of the examination.

• Candidates must have been awarded a minimum of Honours (80%) in the RIAM Grade VIII Theory and Harmony examination, as this aspect is not assessed in the DipRIAM.

• It is recommended that candidates have achieved a minimum of Honours (80%) in the RIAM Grade VIII practical in the instrument/voice relevant to this diploma.

The DipRIAM examination consists of 3 individual components:

• Case Studies (Pupil Profile; Outline Plans; Lesson Plans and Evaluations) and Videos (2 videos of candidate teaching a student, each of 12/15 mins duration).

• Performance (Practical Demonstration) — candidates are required to prepare 6 pieces from the RIAM Grade 5 syllabus, as the DipRIAM is geared towards providing a teaching qualification for those teaching beginner-Grade V level.

• Viva Voce (Oral examination).


All three components of the DipRIAM must be completed in the same session. The pass mark is 70. Honours (80–89), and Distinction (90+). Unsuccessful candidates wishing to repeat will be required to sit the exam in its entirety. In such cases, new case study and video material will be required.

For more information on the DipRIAM guidelines, application procedures, and marking scheme

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