Join us as a volunteer

If you're a musician or music-lover, have you thought of joining our network of volunteers without whom the running of ABRSM's exams would be impossible?

They're known as Honorary Local Representatives (HLRs) in the UK & Ireland, and number over 200. They help to make sure that our exams run smoothly and provide a network of support for local teachers and their students.

Representatives have been part of the fabric of ABRSM since its inception in 1889 and played an important part in ensuring the integrity of 'local' exams when they were first introduced. For this reason, in the earliest days they weren't allowed to be musicians (this is no longer the case) and a list of the founding representatives reveals a range of volunteers from a lieutenant general in Cheltenham and a rector in Aberdeen to a justice of the peace from Derby.

HLR opportunities

We currently have HLR vacancies in the following centres:

  • Birmingham
  • Carmarthen
  • Chelmsford
  • Finchley
  • Harlow
  • Lancaster
  • Llanelli
  • Manchester
  • Peterhead
  • Skegness
  • Watford


Giving back to the community

Jean Stewart, an HLR of over 15 years from Doncaster, enjoys the opportunity to meet other teachers: "As a private piano teacher, it can be lonely at times, so it's a fantastic way of keeping up to date with what's going on and the latest from ABRSM."

Our retired HLR for Truro, Michael Sadka, particularly enjoyed "feeling part of a community and helping spread the beauty of music".

But it's "not a job to be taken lightly", our longest-standing HLR, Helen Hopkins from Wales reminds us. "It can be time consuming and exhausting, but I feel it's my duty to accommodate the exams. I love providing a welcoming atmosphere for the children." Helen and her husband ran Wilks Music Store, the oldest music shop in Swansea, and have been holding exams in a purpose-built room adjoined to the shop for 40 years, with a lengthy visitors' book to prove it!

Another optional role of a representative is to organise High Scorers' Concerts. These provide a fantastic opportunity for local children to come and play their pieces in front of a friendly and supportive audience and celebrate their success. They always have a "real buzz about them" and are "a joy to arrange" notes Jean.

What we look for

So what qualities and skills do you need as a representative?

You should enjoy working with young people, have plenty of patience, good organisational skills and tremendous diplomacy. As a representative, you'll deal with the ordinary to the bizarre, from flat tyres and late candidates to noisy neighbours, forgotten music and occasional examiners locked in toilets!

You also need unfailing patience and the ability to keep calm under pressure. We want to ensure the conditions are right for each candidate and that their experience of the exam is positive.

Benefits you'll enjoy

As an HLR, you're assured of full support from staff at our London office and are kept up to date through webinars and annual seminars which we host in venues in London and across the UK. You also receive discounts on our publications and free or discounted places on our courses.

A more unusual benefit for Helen (and one we can't guarantee!) was the invitation by one of the examiners at her centre to sing Elgar's Sea Pictures with his orchestra in London.

"It was such a wonderful and unexpected opportunity," Helen reminisces, adding that it "really encouraged me to pursue my singing!"

Becoming an HLR

Many HLRs are in post for several years, but when a position becomes vacant it's usually advertised to applicants in the relevant part of the country. You can also find a list of open positions on this page.

If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers, please complete the Contact Form below and we’ll get back to you with an application form., which will ask you to provide some brief background information about yourself and the names of two people who'd be willing to provide a reference (both referees should know you for at least five years and normally one should be involved in music in your area).

You can find your nearest centre here.

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