The Jazz department, led by Professor Tommy Smith OBE, 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. View the course overview.
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 per 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.