How does Trinity’s Musical Theatre offer set students up for success?

How does Trinity’s Musical Theatre offer set students up for success?

Picture of Sue Clarke: Subject Expert - Drama

BY: Sue Clarke: Subject Expert - Drama
22 February 2022

Today’s young people have grown up in an era that has truly celebrated musical theatre. The success of big-screen hits such as La La Land (2016), The Greatest Showman (2017) and Pitch Perfect (2012 - 2017), has infiltrated popular culture and been a huge part of the media landscape, reaching audiences far beyond regular theatre-goers. 

At Trinity College London, we’ve seen this trend reflected in students’ interests. Demand has surged for the Musical Theatre syllabus specifications, and more and more students are seriously preparing for careers in the musical theatre industry. And there is good potential for these students within the UK’s robust creative sector. 

Before the pandemic, creative industries employment was growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, and contributed £115.9billion to the economy in 2019. It’s been projected that the creative sector could recover faster than the UK economy overall, with the right investment, but it is more vital than ever that students expand their skill sets and are able to offer more than one discipline to gain an advantage over their peers in this hyper-competitive market.

At Trinity, we want to help prepare students for the real world in this ever-shifting industry by delivering Musical Theatre exams that are relevant, challenging and recognised, industry-wide. This blog post looks at the different ways the Trinity Musical Theatre syllabus specifications set students up for success and empowers schools, educators and teachers to help their students achieve the best possible outcomes.


Educators and employers are familiar with Trinity’s reputation for stretching students and developing talent through an emphasis on the synthesis of singing, acting and dancing to achieve a fully integrated performance.

But the level of difficulty of Trinity’s Musical Theatre exams is not simply about maintaining our reputation. The industry-driven nature of the syllabus means that students are exposed to and trained in skills that are authentic to the requirements of work and study in musical theatre. Students participate in learning experiences that simulate those they may experience as professional performers.

For example, as part of the Trinity Musical Theatre specifications, we test key skills that are used in dramatic arts university courses and real-world rehearsals, such as:

Scene into song

  • The intersection of music and acting. Students are assessed on their ability to move from dialogue into song, exploring the impetus to sing at that key moment.

Connection to lyrics

  • Students demonstrate their acting skill through the performance of song lyrics – a task that requires students to connect with the meaning, ideas and emotions of a song by performing the lyrics as a dramatic monologue or duologue.


  • Pieces are re-contextualised into different settings or time periods. In later grades, students work with the examiner to explore the piece in different scenarios – an exercise akin to workshopping material with a director in the rehearsal room.


Trinity Musical Theatre exams focus on flexibility to give different organisations the best options for their students. 

One of the most attractive elements to students is that Trinity allows free choice of repertoire material. We find that this is invaluable to students who wish to have influence over what they work on – and helps increase commitment and enthusiasm. 

Students can opt to perform pieces of their choice drawn from classic musicals or songs from more contemporary shows, as long as the criteria for each grade is met. Teachers are given guidance on how to choose appropriate materials for each grade level, and how to accommodate the students’ choices.

The Trinity Musical Theatre exams can take the form of:

  • Solo performer or pairs (Grades Initial - 8)
  • Groups (Grades Initial - 8)
  • Music Theatre ‘In Production’ (a complete cast and crew is assessed)
  • Diploma in Musical Theatre, available at two levels: Associate (ATCL) and Licentiate (LTCL).

Both face-to-face and digital exams are available.

The flexibility of these options means that students have more access than ever to achieve a truly ‘triple threat’ Musical Theatre education. Students who might lack the confidence to take the solo exams can still access exams relevant to their skill level, and the specification is flexible enough to embrace a variety of musical tastes and preferences.

The flexibility in assessment means that schools have several options as to how they choose to deliver the syllabus. The Musical Theatre specifications can fit into both extra-curricular and curricular models. As part of enrichment, performances can be assessed via In Production exams, in addition to working towards group exams through regular clubs. Musical Theatre also works well when drama, music and dance operate on a carousel during curriculum time. 

Overall, this improves access and opportunities to expose students to a broad scheme of learning, as schools are able to offer musical theatre in a way that suits them – hence, more students can participate and gain qualifications.


A typical onward route for students looking to forge a career in musical theatre is to audition for drama school. The Trinity Musical Theatre Grades and Diplomas allow students to progress to that level and develop key skills necessary for the audition process. 

The syllabus specifications give students a cutting-edge advantage over those taking more traditional exams offered by other boards which may not cover dance, singing and acting to the same degree. We find that by combining disciplines within the Musical Theatre specifications, not only do students get great pleasure in performing more varied material, but they are equipped to move on to drama school auditions with a rounded skill set. They can enter the musical theatre industry with confidence and genuinely relevant experience. 

For others exploring alternative routes and career options, the Trinity Musical Theatre specifications nurture transferable skills including creativity, communication and resilience, along with UCAS points attached to the higher grades.


Trinity prides itself on being an excellent option for both students and teachers of musical theatre. The support we offer educators empowers them to deliver this industry-leading qualification, with dedicated support for teachers including a host of tailored resources available online. 

The specifications truly ready students for both further study and professional environments, ensuring a comprehensive skill set and pathways for different settings. 

'The Trinity syllabus allows us to teach a Musical Theatre course that is not only equally weighted in all disciplines, but truly combines them in a way that prepares students for progressing through theatre school and into professional work.'

— Graham Dickie MBE, Artistic Director of Musical Theatre at The Dance School of Scotland

Read about how The Dance School of Scotland and other leading schools combine Trinity Musical Theatre exams with their own unique programmes to nurture outstanding students to succeed, year after year. Click here to read more.

Learn how schools are benefiting from Trinity Musical Theatre exams

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