About the College

The Australian College of Music is an examining body.

  • Its purpose is to provide assessment, within a graded structure, of student performances and achievements in the areas of music and speech.
  • Examination syllabuses are available for a wide range of practical and theoretical subjects in music and speech.
  • Through its examination programmes, the Board, while maintaining consistent standards of examining, encourages students to strive for their highest level of achievement.
  • The College is a non-profit organisation. Its funds and capital are devoted solely to the advancement of music and speech.


In 1966 the London College of Music, after a decision of the Council, ceased all operations overseas. Prior to this Australia was a very large centre with examinations being held in every state. This left something of a void in the Music, and Speech and Drama examination system.

Sheila Birchley and Patrick Ryan had been Overseas Examiners for the London College of Music and were urged by many teachers and parents to organise a similar body to carry on the work of the London College. With the assistance of Sheila Birchley’s husband, Cecil, who was well known in business and government circles, and armed with a proposed constitution and draft syllabuses, Patrick Ryan, and Sheila and Cecil Birchley approached the Queensland Government. The outcome was that on 16th May, 1968, the Australian College of Music (ACM) was granted Letters Patent. This was done under The Religious, Educational Charitable Institutions Acts, 1861 – 1967. This established the ACM (a non-profit organisation) as a Body Corporate, being signed into law by Sir Gordon Chalk, the Deputy-Premier at the time, and Sir Alan Mansfield, the then Governor of Queensland. Patrick Ryan was named as President and Sheila Birchley as Secretary/Treasurer.

The founding Board and specially selected Panel of Examiners was: Pam Harper, Douglas Killer, Jack Stevens, Marjorie Nugent, Patrea O’Shea, Kathleen Hughes, Viliam Simek, D.Vincent Munro, and Sr Mary Rita.

From the outset the ACM endeavoured to foster a fair but friendly approach to examinations whilst aiming for the highest of standards. It also encouraged Australian content in its sullabuses.

Today the ACM fills a boutique but steadily growing niche in the in the music community and the speech and drama community.