The Jazz department, led by Professor Tommy Smith, internationally renowned saxophonist and major force in European jazz, is vibrant and energetic, and continues to produce successful musicians and new voices within the UK jazz scene.
Studying Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire offers a high level of training aimed at cultivating your development as a creative and versatile jazz performer. The BMus programme explores jazz in the broadest possible terms, and provide the opportunity to play, perform, compose and record in many different jazz styles and settings.
The BMus in Jazz is a specialist pathway for a performance career in jazz. It is the first and the only full-time degree level jazz course in Scotland and offers many creative and artistic opportunities to you as a performer across a wide-ranging curriculum. You’ll receive tuition from some of the finest jazz musicians and educators in the UK. Currently we offer the highest amount of contact time offered anywhere in the UK with 90 minutes of individual lessons each week on your principal study instrument, with the opportunity to study a second instrument made available across all four years of study. This allows you to maximise your instrumental skills and nurture your creative potential as an artist.
The BMus programme is delivered to a small, focused cohort of students in each year group that form a unique ensemble and grow together throughout the BMus jazz pathway towards graduation. As a student, you are also encouraged to interact with other year groups and students from other disciplines across the RCS in the spirit of our cross-disciplinary curriculum.
Through class teaching in our dedicated jazz studios, you’ll study the essentials of chord-scale harmony, improvisation, classic repertoire, composition, history, music business and arranging. Our vision of jazz is comprehensive and inclusive, and you’ll be introduced to the full range of contexts from solo and ensemble work through to big band settings.
Studying Jazz at the Conservatoire provides numerous opportunities to perform both in and out of the institution. On campus are our Blue Mondays concerts (also streamed live on the internet), featuring students and tutors, often performing alongside special guest performers. Past clinicians have included Makoto Ozone, Courtney Pine, Jacqui Dankworth, Branford Marsalis, David Liebman, Peter Erskine, Paolo Fresu, Bill Evans, Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker and Arild Andersen. Students also take part annually in a BBC broadcast recording for Radio Scotland’s Jazz House programme, in which they perform their own compositions. In addition, 4th year students each year undertake a 3-day recording and mixing session with Nimbus Records, resulting in an album release on the record label.
The Jazz department maintains close ties with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. This relationship with what many consider Europe’s foremost contemporary big band has given students in Jazz at the Conservatoire access to performances and rehearsals by Kurt Elling, John Scofield, Gary Burton, Joe Lovano and Gunther Schuller .
Previous students of the Jazz department have been recipients of the prestigious Yamaha Jazz Scholarship, with pianists Peter Johnstone and Utsav Lal obtaining scholarships in 2013 and 2014. They also recorded a CD for the cover of Jazzwise magazine, and performed at the Houses of Parliament in London.
As a Jazz student at RCS, you will reap the full benefits of highly modern academic facilities, combined with the highest quality teaching in a city brimming with jazz, and a country resplendent with artistic opportunity.
Principal study options
During the application and audition process, you must select which instrument(s) you wish to specialise in for the duration of your course. On this course, you can choose from the following options:
Only one instrument is studied. It may be possible to study a further instrument formatively, but this will not contribute towards the qualification.
For all courses, you must select at least one specialism from the 'primary' list. For those studying primary/secondary pathways, two instruments may be selected – one from the 'primary' list and one from the 'secondary' list. Joint pathway students may select any two instruments from either list.
- Clarinet (Jazz)
- Double Bass (Jazz)
- Drumkit (Jazz)
- Electric bass (jazz)
- Flute (Jazz)
- Guitar (Jazz)
- Piano (Jazz)
- Saxophone (Alto) Jazz
- Saxophone (Baritone) Jazz
- Saxophone (Soprano) Jazz
- Saxophone (Tenor) Jazz
- Trombone (Jazz)
- Trumpet (Jazz)
- Violin (Jazz)
- Voice (Jazz)
You will tackle the fundamentals of jazz composition and expand your knowledge of jazz repertoire in simulated live performance sessions. You will also develop your aural awareness, sight-reading, sight-singing and musical dictation skills. You will be given a broad overview of the history of jazz and you will look ahead to working in the music business learning how to create a biography and an invoice.
Your jazz composition skills are at the core of your learning in year two: you will perform your own compositions and write for a jazz ensemble. Performance sessions will focus on learning classic jazz repertoire, melodies and chord progressions completely by ear. Underpinning this will be the development of your historical understanding of jazz from Mingus through to Acid Jazz. Music business classes will cover topics such as performance contracts, riders and stage plans.
You will continue to develop and integrate your understanding of all areas of jazz composition. For the first time, you will create a jazz arrangement for a big band and get to grips with producing jazz in a recording studio. Your ear training skills will be further developed with a focus on conducting, rhythmic duets, and sight-singing. You will learn how to develop a mock funding application.
All of your composition skills will be put to test as you compose and arrange original works for a jazz orchestra. You will also further develop your jazz production skills in the recording studio and record an end of year CD for Nimbus. As you prepare to graduate, music business classes will focus on developing a personal website.
How to apply
This course is not accepting applications at this time. Please contact the provider to find out more.
If your application is completed by the following date, it’s guaranteed to be considered:
2 October*If you apply after this deadline, universities or colleges don’t have to consider your application if they’ve filled their spaces, so the sooner you apply, the better!
*If you are an international applicant, or you are applying for a postgraduate course, or are choosing certain audition locations, the 'on time' deadline may be later in the year - please contact the conservatoire directly.
You will need these codes when you add a choice to your application.
|Campus name||Main Site|
Points of entry
The following entry points are available for this course:
- Year 1
Currently around 20% of our students come from outside the UK. Between them, they represent over 53 different nationalities and add a rich diversity to the Conservatoire. The Conservatoire holds auditions at the locations below. If you wish to audition at any of the locations listed, please submit your application at least one month in advance of the audition date. For further information, please read our Guide for Applicants - https://www.rcs.ac.uk/studyhere/how-to-apply/.
|A level||Passes in two subjects at A Level|
|Scottish Higher||Passes in three subjects at Higher level|
Additional entry requirements
Please refer to our Guide for Applicants for what to prepare for audition - https://www.rcs.ac.uk/studyhere/how-to-apply/music/
In the event of a successful audition, applicants may be invited for a further interview prior to being made an offer.
Remote audition recordings may be accepted in the event that you cannot attend an audition in person.
Single specialism audition
|Location||On-time Fee||Late Fee|
Joint principal specialism audition
|Location||On-time Fee||Late Fee|
|South Korea||Not available at this location|
|Singapore||Not available at this location|
|Recording||Not available at this location|
|RCS||Not available at this location|
|Norway||Not available at this location|
|New York||Not available at this location|
|China||Not available at this location|
Fees and funding
|Northern Ireland||£9,250||Year 1|
Additional fee information
The Royal Conservatoire is able to offer a number of entrance scholarships which are awarded as part of the audition/selection process on the basis of merit and financial need. Please see our website for more information - https://www.rcs.ac.uk/studyhere/scholarships/.