An Overview


The Timpani and Percussion department offers an extensive curriculum to allow students to experience and study as much related material as possible.

A carefully balanced curriculum of one-to-one weekly lessons and repertoire classes, playing in various ensembles, interspersed with frequent visits from our distinguished roster of international clinicians, produces a structure and foundation for student learning and engagement. Additionally, students gain lots of practical performing experience through a variety of opportunities: symphonic, chamber, opera and wind and brass ensembles.

You will have 90-minute one-to-one lessons per teaching week in each year on your principal study with our highly acclaimed staff, supplemented by one three hour orchestral repertoire class per week. To further equip you for the profession, we offer specialist tuition from leading performers and educators featuring Drum Kit, Latin American and ethnic percussion and Marimba.

We are fortunate to have Eric Sammut (Orchestre de Paris and Conservatoire de Paris) as our International Marimba Consultant. Eric visits four times each academic year, for two days at a time, allowing Marimba students lots of opportunities to learn from his expertise.

Dave Hassell, session musician and renowned clinician, also makes six visits per academic year, for two days at a time. RCS offers successful mentoring schemes with Scotland’s leading orchestras where students experience the realities of the professional environment.

You will also benefit from three large fully equipped studios for the sole use of timpani and percussion students. Additionally, you will receive regular performance opportunities in the Royal Conservatoire’s professional venues, as well as in some of Scotland’s major concert halls.

Institution Code:


Programme Code:


UK Deadline:

2 October 2023

International Deadline:

1 December 2023

Programme Structure

Here you’ll see an overview of what’s required for each year of the programme. View the Course Overview.

Common to all years are Creative and Contextual Studies, lessons in one-to-one Timpani and Percussion, performance classes, and the chance to be involved in masterclasses and competitions. There will also be Orchestral repertoire classes, reflecting a full sectional situation, and a series of group lectures.

The Timpani and Percussion profession demands advanced levels of technical and musical ability, a variety of stylistic and interpretative knowledge, and mature professionalism. Dedicated to maintaining the highest possible standards, it is our aim to provide the fullest possible exposure to all Timpani and Percussion instruments through all four years of this programme.

You’ll benefit from 90 minutes individual tuition sessions per week, alternating between Timpani and Percussion, and also classes in Creative and Contextual Studies.

To ensure progress in later years you’ll need to develop technical skills, including stroke techniques and enhanced listening skills, and also show a degree of musical awareness and interpretive ability. A thorough understanding of Timpani and all Percussion instruments is required and performances will need to be focused and fluent.

Your first year will need to concentrate on establishing a rigorous and self-controlled practice routine. Specialist course components will include Drum Set, Ethnic and Latin American Percussion and Marimba along with department activities of weekly Repertoire Classes, Performance Classes, and masterclasses by visiting artists.

You’ll benefit from 90 minutes individual tuition sessions per week, alternating between Timpani and Percussion, and also classes in Creative and Contextual Studies.

Musical personality and interpretive ability are expected in year two, along with the ability to resolve technical issues with success. An increasing variety of tone-qualities and stylistic awareness should be evident and you’ll concentrate on tone production and projection along with remedial technical issues across the disciplines.

You’ll benefit from 90 minutes individual tuition sessions per week, alternating between Timpani and Percussion, and also classes in Creative and Contextual Studies.

Year three will form the basis for further development and refinement of all areas of Timpani study. A very demanding program is set for advanced study and all work presented must display evidence of considered planning and confident presentation. You’ll be required to approach larger structures with confidence and a much-advanced range of styles. Now closer to your final recital, you’ll need to be deemed capable of presenting a short public recital programme with confidence. You’ll also be expected to study the “Probespiel Book”.

On successful completion of your third year, there’s also the opportunity for specialization to be considered.

You’ll benefit from 90 minutes individual tuition sessions per week, alternating between Timpani and Percussion (or the agreed specialisation/s), and also classes in Creative and Contextual Studies.

Professionalism and interpretive maturity must now be evident and all work must be stylistically informed, fluent as well as individually communicative. Lessons will now focus on an intimate knowledge of the entire repertoire, with direct concentration on technical and mature musical understanding. The very complex and demanding curriculum will need to be performed to a high professional standard and professional audition material will also be under constant review.

Your end of year final recital will be in two parts. Part one will be a detailed 45 minute exam of orchestral literature, divided equally between Timpani and Percussion. Part two will be a public recital of 35 minutes. Students will also be required to complete a Personal Development Record in year 4 which will be assessed.

Staff by Instrument

  • Kurt-Hans Goedicke – Distinguished Fellow in Timpani and Percussion and Head of Department, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Phil Philbert – Principal Timpanist, RSNO

By Request:

  • Gordon Rigby —Principal Timpanist, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Ruari Donaldson — Principal Timpanist, Scottish Opera
  • Tom Hunter — former Ass. Timpanist/Percussionist, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Norway
  • Alasdair Kelly — freelance, formerly of the Opera of Bologna, Italy
  • Simon Lowden ARAM — Principal Percussion, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Special Consultants
Associate to Timpani and Percussion
  • David Kerr



As part of our Timpani and Percussion course you will take part in different clinics, workshops, and masterclasses with visiting lecturers we welcome from around the world.

Some of these Masterclasses include:

  • Colin Currie : International Percussion Soloist and Clinician
  • Sam Walton : Eminent Percussionist
  • Birger Sulsbrück : Internationally Renowned Cuban Percussion Expert
  • Leigh Howard Stevens : Internationally Famous Marimbist and Clinician
  • Yasmin Kolberg Kroumata : Internationally celebrated Marimbist and Clinician
  • Dame Evelyn Glennie : International Percussion Soloist
  • David Searcy : Principal Timpanist La Scala Milan and International Clinician
  • Simon Carrington : Principal Timpanist The London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Keith Aleo & Neil Grover : Avidas Zildjian Company
  • Neil Percy : Principal Percussion London Symphony Orchestra
  • Louise Goodwin: Timpanist Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Graduate Destinations


In preparation for your professional career, you’ll have weekly one-to-one lessons with renowned professional performers, enhanced by repertoire classes, as well as specialized individual and class tuition in Latin American, Ethnic Percussion, and Drum Set provided by six visits per academic year for two days each. Although tuition is directed towards orchestral repertoire, we’ve developed well-established traditions of solo performance and also offer a Solo-Marimba provision.

The Timpani and Percussion department has a long-established tradition of producing graduates who hold prominent positions both in the UK and abroad.

  • Louis Abbott Admiral Fallow
  • June Binnie Sinfonia Finlandia
  • Richard Buckley Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa
  • Ruari Donaldson Scottish Opera
  • Alan Emslie Baroque specialist
  • James Gorman Freelance, currently on the UK tour of Evita
  • Philip Hauge Admiral Fallow
  • Calum Huggan First British student accepted onto the Advanced Solo Marimba course at the Royal College of Music
  • Tom Hunter Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Alasdair Kelly Bologna Opera
  • David Lyons BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Kate Openshaw Camerata Ireland
  • Louise Paterson Real Orquesta Sinfonica de Sevilla
  • John Poulter Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  • Gordon Rigby BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Martin Willis Scottish Ballet

Timpani and Percussion performance work

Our Timpani and Percussion students in an edited selection of performance work.

Why Choose Us?

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is consistently ranked in the World Top 10 for performing arts education (QS World Rankings 2023)

  • Small class sizes: we only take a maximum of 12 students to ensure the highest possible teaching contact and practice time
  • Three large dedicated percussion studios with a full range of the highest quality instruments
  • Unrivalled links with the world’s leading performers in timpani and percussion
  • Performing opportunities alongside guest artists and masterclass clinicians
  • Cross-discipline collaboration opportunities with students from across RCS

As well as working with your fellow student musicians, you’ll have opportunities to collaborate across the disciplines. You may be part of a band for Musical Theatre performances, providing music for film, or joining forces with composers to create new works — the opportunities are unlimited.

You’ll gain lots of performance experience in a number of learning and professional contexts. You’ll work with our ensembles in symphonic, chamber, opera, wind orchestra, brass, and Big Band repertoire in the Conservatoire and external venues. We operate a number of side-by-side schemes with Scotland’s leading orchestras, where you can experience the realities of the working world in a supportive environment. You’ll benefit from the guidance and mentoring of professional musicians, performing in some of Scotland’s major concert halls and venues.

Virtual Tour

Explore the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in our 360 virtual tour. You’ll be able to see our rehearsal and practice rooms, professional performance venues, production workshops, editing suite, ballet studios and more.

Entry Requirements

General Academic Entrance Requirements
  • Scottish Highers — 3 passes (grade C or above)
  • A Levels — 2 passes
  • International Baccalaureate — minimum score of 24 with 3 subjects at Higher Level
  • Recognised equivalences (EU and International Entry Requirements)

We welcome the Scottish Baccalaureate and will accept combinations of Highers and Advanced Highers.

We offer a flexible approach to students taking Higher over more than one academic year and/or who achieve their qualifications in more than one sitting.

Subjects recommended

Within the minimum academic entrance requirements listed above, the subject recommended are:

  • Music at Higher, Advanced Higher or Advanced level or equivalent
  • English at Higher, Advanced Higher or Advanced level or equivalent
Other Standards

A strong indication of potential is sought at the entrance audition for this programme. Successful applicants will normally be of a standard at least equivalent to Grade 8 with Distinction of the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music in their Principal Study. You can apply and audition without having obtained Grade 8 with distinction, however as an indication only, applicants are normally expected to have reached this standard in their performance.

Language of Study

The language of study is English. Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Level 6.0 (with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component) is required of applicants to the School of Music.

Direct Entry

Applications for direct entry beyond Year 1 will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the Royal Conservatoire’s Recognition of Prior (Experiential) Learning policy. If you wish to apply for direct entry, please mark the point of entry on UCAS Conservatoires application as 2 or 3.

Non-Standard Entry

We welcome applications from individuals whose academic qualifications or English language qualifications do not match (in terms of equivalence) or fall short of the normal entrance requirements, where specified*. Having satisfied the Audition Panel that they meet the selection criteria and demonstrated that they have the capacity to pursue the proposed course of study, such applicants will be considered through examination of contextualised data provided in accordance with the Non-Standard Entry Policy. The appropriate Head of Department/ Programme will make a case in support of the applicant for consideration by the Directors of the Schools and Convener of the Quality and Standards Committee.

*Note that UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) imposes minimum English Language qualifications in respect of international (non-EU) applicants who require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK.

Mature Students

RCS welcomes applications from mature students, i.e. students over the age of 21 at entry to the programme. Whilst the selection procedures will still be applied, consideration will be given to appropriate artistic experience not normally expected in school leavers, which is deemed to compensate for any lack of traditional entrance qualifications. Successful mature applicants, as for all other applicants, must convince auditioning panels that they have the ability and potential to cope with the demands of the programme. Their progress, especially in the early stages of the programme, will be closely monitored and appropriate advice and support given.

How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system. If you wish to apply to conservatoires and universities within UCAS, you will need to register for both services. There is a UCAS application fee of £27.50 to register to use UCAS Conservatoires.

To begin a new UCAS Conservatoires application, you will need to register. You can read the UCAS Conservatoires’ advice on completing the UCAS Conservatoires application. If you need assistance with your application, you can contact UCAS Conservatoires team by telephoning (Monday to Friday, 8.30 — 18.00). Phone 0371 468 0470 from within the UK or +44 330 3330 232 if you are calling from overseas.

Application deadline date

The deadline dates to apply and submit your audition recording can be found in the table below –

UCAS Conservatoires Application Deadline  Audition Recording Deadline
UK Applicants 2 October 2023 2 October 2023 (for applicants unable to attend an in-person audition)
International Applicants 1 December 2023 1 December 2023

International student applicants

We are aware that international students may struggle with the UCAS deadline. As a consequence, we have set an additional deadline of 1 December 2023 for international students.

If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that your application/audition recording will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications. Late applications will be considered on a case by case basis and may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation.

We do not offer deferred entry. If you wish to commence in 2025, you must apply next year.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland institution code is R58.

BMus (Hons) Performance: 300F

Joint Principal Study (Hons): 301F

Book an advice lesson with one of our Music tutors

An advice lesson gives you the chance to experience having a lesson at the Conservatoire and provides a great opportunity for you to gain some expert advice and insight. Advice lessons normally take place from late August to early October and are dependent on staff availability. Book your advice lesson here or e-mail our team for further information at

Application Fee

There is a UCAS Conservatoires application fee of £27.50. In addition to the application fee, each conservatoire charges an audition assessment administration fee. For RCS, the audition assessment administration fee is £65 per programme applied for. Fees are not refundable. The fees are paid via the UCAS Conservatoires website and not directly to RCS.

Audition Assessment Administration fee

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland charges an audition assessment administration fee of £65 per course.

We recognise that auditioning and interviewing for conservatoires, drama and ballet schools can be costly. The audition assessment administration fee charge allows us to offer a thorough and positive experience to all applicants and we encourage you to get in touch to ask the panel questions and find out more about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to see if it is the best place for you.

We are committed to ensuring fair access to a conservatoire education for students who have the talent and potential to benefit from it, regardless of their background. In support of this, audition fee waivers are offered to applicants whom financial hardship may be a barrier to auditioning. Please see the audition fee waivers document for more information.


It is your responsibility to ask two separate referees to write references and ensure that these are sent to RCS.

The references must be written by two different people and we will not accept references from family, other relatives or close friends. You can submit your UCAS Conservatoires application form and send your references at a later date, but they must be received prior to your audition date.

UCAS Conservatoires provides reference forms for you to download and send to your referees for completion.

Selection Process

Applicants are selected first and foremost on the basis of merit and potential. However, due attention is also paid to the range of Principal Studies accepted in order to ensure the optimum experience for each student and to sustain the critical mass required for curricular activities, such as the symphony orchestra and choral activities.

Please note that the Conservatoire is obliged to offer one audition date per application. If you are unable to submit your application/audition recording by the deadline date above, you must email us immediately stating the reason. We have a specific period allocation to audition and all on time applications will receive a decision before Christmas. If your audition recording is delayed, there is a risk that places will already have been taken and your application may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation.

BMus Joint Principal Study (JPS)

The Joint Principal Study pathway is intended to cater for the needs of individuals who are equally accomplished in two Principal Study disciplines (e.g. Flute and Composition, or Trumpet and Conducting, etc.) and who wish to maintain this intense level of dedication in their musical studies. Please note that Conducting is only available as a Joint Principal Study and Jazz Performance is only available in conjunction with Conducting or Composition.

The selection process for applicants applying for Joint Principal Study is the same as that for other applicants; please prepare for two separate in-person auditions, or, for International applicants, please submit your audition recordings via Acceptd for each principal study. Applicants to the Joint Principal Study pathway who are successful in only one of their Principal Studies may be offered a place on the relevant ‘single-study’ pathway (i.e. Performance, Composition or Jazz).


All auditions are planned to take place in-person at our campus in Glasgow in November 2022.  Should you apply on time, you will be e-mailed directly with details of your audition date and time, and your UCAS Conservatoires track will be updated with this information.

International applicants are welcome to submit a recorded submission via Acceptd. For those submitting a recording, the deadline dates to apply and submit your audition recording can be found in the table below:

UCAS Conservatoires Application Deadline  Audition Recording Deadline
UK Applicants 2 October 2023 2 October 2023 (for applicants unable to attend an in-person audition)
International Applicants 1 December 2023 1 December 2023

International student applicants

We are aware that international students may struggle with the UCAS deadline. As a consequence, we have set an additional deadline of 1 December 2023 for international students.

Recording Guidelines:

  • When setting up for your video recording, your body (typically, from about the waist up) and instrument should be the focal point of the frame. The committee wants to be able to see not just your face but how well you navigate your instrument.
  • The video recording should be provided in ONE continuous shot without separate tracks for different musical pieces.
  • Please begin the recording by introducing yourself to camera and stating what you will be performing. You can take a little time between pieces so long as your body must remain in the frame.
  • For any pieces that were written for your instrument and piano accompaniment, you are encouraged to perform with piano accompaniment (whether live or pre-recorded) if practical for you. Be assured, however, that if this is not possible for you, then you will not be disadvantaged in any way.

For more information on recording a video audition, Guitar Lecturer Matthew McCallister reveals his top tips on recording your music audition online below:

All decisions will be posted on UCAS Conservatoires following your audition or recorded submission via UCAS Conservatoires track (you will need your username and password). We aim to post outcomes before Christmas.

Audition/recording expectations are a competent performance of the set pieces displaying tonal, musical and stylistic awareness. Details of the repertoire requested for your in-person audition/recorded submission can be found below:


  • Tchaikovsky – Symphony Nr.4  1st. Movement 7th. bar after F to L and 2 bars before T to 3 bars before U (available in “Modern Method for Timpani, Saul Goodman, Belwin Mills)
  • Hindemith –  Sinfonische Metamorphosen Turandot Scherzo (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Frank Martin Concerto pour 7 Instruments à Vent,Timbales,Batterie et Orchestre à Cordes (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Beethoven Symhony Nr.1  3rd. Movement & Beethoven Symphony Nr. 7  1st Movement (available in ”Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions” ,Schott)

Snare Drum

  • Rimsky-Korsakov Sheherazade,Movements 3 & 4 (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Prokofiev  Peter and the Wolf  (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Audition”, Schott)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov  Capriccio Espagnol  (available in the Goldenberg Book)


  • Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Gershwin Porgy & Bess (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Britten Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (available in “Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)

A piece of the applicant’s own choice on Marimba (optional).

Following your Audition

All decisions will be posted on UCAS Conservatoires following your audition via UCAS Conservatoires Track,  (you will need your username and password). You will also receive notification from UCAS Conservatoires when decisions on all your choices are available.

Please see below for an explanation of UCAS Conservatoires codes:

Guaranteed Unconditional (GU) RCS is satisfied from the information you have given, that you have already met the conditions for entry. Unless your application and/or qualification are subsequently shown to be fraudulent, a guaranteed unconditional offer is binding.

Guaranteed Conditional (GC) RCS has made the offer subject to you meeting certain conditions such as examination results. Conditions can be viewed via UCAS Conservatoires Track. Unless your application and/or qualifications are subsequently shown to be fraudulent, the offer is binding if you accept the offer and meet the conditions. You must meet the conditions of the offer by 31 August 2021, unless an earlier date is specified. If your conditions include obtaining IELTS (English Language test), you must meet this condition by 31 May 2021.

Reserve Unconditional (VU) RCS is satisfied from the information you have given, that you have already met the conditions for entry and you have been offered a place on our reserve pool.

Reserve Conditional (VC) RCS has offered a place on its reserve pool subject to you meeting certain conditions such as examination results. Conditions can be viewed via UCAS Conservatoires Track.

Unsuccessful (R) RCS does not wish to offer you any type of a place.

Reserve Outcomes

If you have received a ‘reserve’ outcome, it means that RCS is not able to offer you a guaranteed place at the time of making our decision. A ‘reserve’ outcome indicates that RCS would like the opportunity to review its outcome to you in the light of acceptances/declines to its guaranteed offers. You will become part of a ‘pool’ of ‘reserve’ candidates and RCS may choose to make you a guaranteed offer if a suitable place becomes available.  Reserve does not mean that a place has been ‘reserved’ for you. If RCS chooses not to make you a guaranteed offer, you will not have a place to start at RCS.

If you have been given a ‘reserve’ outcome, in order to be considered for a guaranteed place (should one become available) you will need to accept the outcome (and meet any conditions if applicable).

Reserve outcomes remain active until the end of August.  The decision to wait and see whether a guaranteed place becomes available, or to accept an offer at another conservatoire is entirely at your discretion. As soon as your situation changes, this is updated on UCAS Conservatoires.

Replying to Offers

As soon as a decision is made, UCAS Conservatoires will let you know. You must reply online via UCAS Conservatoires Track. Your reply date is displayed on Track. If you do not reply by the date given, your offers will be declined automatically. The reply date may be different to other applicants as it is based on when you receive your last decision.

Last decision by Your reply date is
3 January 2024 1 February 2024
15 March 2024 10 April 2024
15 May 2024 5 June 2024
10 July 2024 24 July 2024
1 August 2024 10 September 2024

Please see the UCAS Conservatoires website for more information on replying to offers. If you make an application through UCAS Conservatoires, UCAS or UCAS Teacher Training, you cannot hold more than one confirmed place. A confirmed place in UCAS Conservatoires is a guaranteed unconditional offer as your first choice (GU1) and in UCAS and UCAS Teacher Training it is an unconditional firm (UF) place. If you receive more than one confirmed place, UCAS will ask you to accept one offer and withdraw from any others.


We have a number of policies and statements which you should read when applying to study at the Royal Conservatoire.

Please select the links below to read each policy.

Fees and Scholarships

Scottish Students

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will pay tuition fees for all eligible full-time Scottish-based students who are studying in Scotland at degree level for the first time. Students should apply to SAAS for payment of tuition fees even if they are not applying for any other means of support. Eligible students can also apply for student loans through SAAS. For further advice and to check eligibility contact SAAS directly on 0300 555 0505 or visit the SAAS website.

Rest of UK Students

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland studying in Scotland will be eligible for the same funding/loan package that they would benefit from if they attended an institution in their home country. For further advice please visit student finance England , student finance Wales , or student finance Northern Ireland as appropriate.

EU Students

The Royal Conservatoire is resolutely international in outlook and we celebrate and are enriched by the diversity of our community of students and staff. Students from across the globe are welcome and valued members of the RCS community and we continue to welcome applicants from across the EU and throughout the world.

QWhat is the fee situation for EU students?

A: On July 9 2020, Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead announced changes to the fee regime for EU students studying in Scotland. From 2021/22, all EU students commencing study in Scotland will pay fees at the International rate.

Q: I’m an EU student looking to start my studies in 2024/25. How does this impact me?

A: From academic year 2021/22 onwards, all EU students commencing study in Scotland will pay fees at the International rate.

Only EU nationals who are ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ in the UK will remain eligible to apply for home tuition fees providing they meet the residency conditions.

Other EU nationals and associated groups, starting a course of study in 24/25 are not eligible to apply to SAAS for tuition fee support.

Because of a long-standing agreement between the UK and Republic of Ireland, new students from the Republic of Ireland will be eligible to pay the rest of UK (RUK) fee and will be able to access a tuition fee loan from SAAS.

Please also see the SAAS website