René’s story

Name: René
Location: South Africa
Trinity qualification: ATCL Music Diploma

Music has always been a big part of René’s life. Coming from a musical family, René started playing the piano at primary school, and was already covering for her piano teacher on the church organ at the age of 16. 

After retiring, self-professed life-long student René decided it was time to start preparing for her organ diploma. Her teacher recommended Trinity College London’s ATCL, and they began preparing. 

In 2020, René was ready to take the exam, however due to Covid 19 measures in South Africa at the time, she was not able to book the face-to-face version that she had been preparing for, instead opting for a digital diploma with some apprehension. 

“I never in my life thought I’d be videotaped for any exam!“

At first, lessons could only happen on WhatsApp, with René swapping the organ for her home piano. This was far from ideal as it meant trying to play the pedal part with her feet on the carpet! Luckily after a while René was able to practise in the church again. 

On the day of the exam, René felt nervous at first:

“We went through the guidelines carefully, set up and eventually I relaxed with the camera. 

Afterwards, René said “All the hard work was forgotten. Your standard of playing after reaching that goal is so much the better - you feel that you are in another sphere”

René had this to say to anyone taking a digital diploma:

“Try to stay calm. Remember this is a performance. There is a difference for me between just playing and performing.”

“If you just play, you relax you forget about everything but if you perform you give your whole body, your give your whole mind, your hands go into it. Just fly!”


“This is the biggest exam I have done, but I thought that, from the word go, Trinity was very structured. I knew exactly what I had to do - there wasn’t a reason for me to worry or to stress.”

Find out more about Trinity Music Diplomas
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