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BMus Guitar and Harp

Introduction

The Guitar and Harp Department at RCS is structured to directly reflect musical realities in the 21st century. Most successful musicians live varied musical lives, it is our desire to prepare you for the profession and we feel you must acquire as broad a range of skills as possible in order to become excellent musicians and interesting, expressive artists.

Weekly individual, group tuition, chamber music and orchestral performance are a focal point of the newly formed department. Regular collaborations with composers in creating new repertoire, side-by-side opportunities with all of Scotland’s national orchestras, classes in technique and performance practice, history and repertoire, improvisation, business skills, techniques of teaching, alongside regular masterclasses with visiting international soloists all are integral to the development of an aspiring and versatile musician.

The Guitar and Harp department consists of an exciting, forward-looking team of lecturers, who are all experienced soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players and teachers in their own right. They are on hand to give invaluable advice and tuition drawing from their own experience of life as professional musicians.

Introduction

The Guitar and Harp Department at RCS is structured to directly reflect musical realities in the 21st century. Most successful musicians live varied musical lives, it is our desire to prepare you for the profession and we feel you must acquire as broad a range of skills as possible in order to become excellent musicians and interesting, expressive artists.

Weekly individual, group tuition, chamber music and orchestral performance are a focal point of the newly formed department. Regular collaborations with composers in creating new repertoire, side-by-side opportunities with all of Scotland’s national orchestras, classes in technique and performance practice, history and repertoire, improvisation, business skills, techniques of teaching, alongside regular masterclasses with visiting international soloists all are integral to the development of an aspiring and versatile musician.

The Guitar and Harp department consists of an exciting, forward-looking team of lecturers, who are all experienced soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral players and teachers in their own right. They are on hand to give invaluable advice and tuition drawing from their own experience of life as professional musicians.

Programme structure

In each year of the undergraduate course, students will have regular opportunities to play in weekly performance classes, masterclasses, showcase concerts and festival events, including the Big Guitar Weekend, Camac Harp Days and RCS’s contemporary Plug Festival.

Classes in technique, performance practice, repertoire and, of course, chamber music run throughout the year enhancing learning and developing the performer.

The Guitar and Harp department also offers prestigious concerto opportunities to students to perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC SSO as well as the RCS Symphony Orchestra. We enjoy close collaborations with distinguished teaching artists from around the world, including Edoardo Catemario – guitar: Martin Taylor – jazz guitar: Gabriella Dall’Olio – harp: Sioned Williams – Harp, amongst many others. There are also key masterclasses with our International fellow, Pavel Steidl alongside virtuosi Marcin Dylla and Paolo Pegoraro.

Staff and masterclasses

Head of Department:

Professor Allan Neave

Guitar

Pavel Steidl – International Fellow

Jamie Akers – Lecturer in early guitars & lute

Dr Peter Argondizza – Lecturer

Matthew McAllister – Lecturer

Malcolm MacFarlane – Lecturer in jazz and fretboard harmony

Barbara Pommerenke-Steel – Lecturer

Peter Stewart – Lecturer

Phillip Thorne MBE – Lecturer

Ian Watt – Lecturer

Visiting Artists

Tomasz Zawierucha

Harp

Alina Bzhezhinska – Lecturer

Sharron Griffiths – Lecturer

Pippa Tunnell – Lecturer

Visiting artists

Gabriella Dall’Ollio

Helga Storck

Sioned Williams

Why choose us?

  • 90-minute lesson in your principal study each week
  • Excellent partnerships and links to industry; partnerships include Big Guitar Weekend, Celtic Connections, National Youth Guitar Ensemble and International Guitar Festivals (London)
  • Formal links with national companies, enabling harpists to play alongside professional musicians
  • Vast number of performance opportunities each academic session
  • Expert teaching team with regular guitar masterclasses from Pavel Steidl, Jan Depreter, Marcin Dylla, Edoardo Catemario, Xuefei Yang and Martin Taylor
  • Numerous harp masterclasses including Professor Helga Storck, Naoko Yoshino, Catrin Finch and Sivan Magen

How to apply

Applications for the Guitar and Harp programme should be made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. There is a UCAS application fee of £24 (which is in addition to the audition fee) which allows you up to six choices of programme of study.

Before applying we recommend that you read the Guide for Applicants which provides information regarding entry requirements, and the full application and audition process. Please download the Guide for Applicants – BMus here.

Late applications may be considered, find out more on our Apply for Music page.

Preparing for an interview

The audition/interview panel will take account of all aspects of the applicant’s profile i.e.:

  • performance at audition/interview
  • commitment to the particular programme
  • potential to benefit from the programme
  • academic qualifications
  • personal statement
  • performance qualifications
  • performance/practical experience
  • references
  • contextualised data

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.

Alumni and recent graduates

Sean Shibe. First guitarist to be admitted to the prestigious BBC New Generation Artists Scheme and the only solo guitarist to have received a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship. In 2009 Sean won first prize in the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and in 2011 he became only the second guitarist ever to win the Royal Over-Seas League first prize and gold medal following the competition final at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Ian Watt. Won 2nd prize (silver medal) at the 2009 Parkening International Guitar Competition (USA), 1st prize at the Heinsberg International Guitar Competition 2011, 1st prize at the ‘Westfalian Guitar Spring’ International Competition 2010 and 2nd prize at the Vienna International Guitar Competition ‘Homage to Karl Scheit’ 2010. Concerto soloist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia and Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra.

Matthew McAllister. Made Concertgebouw debut in 2010 and performs extensively internationally including recitals in Mexico, France, Peru, Chile, Denmark, Costa Rica, Sarajevo, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Malaysia, Italy, Canada, Poland, United Arab Emirates and North America. Tunnell Trust Award Winner with Irish Flautist Aisling Agnew. Extensive Discography with Natural Studio Records and RTE Lyric FM. Director of The Classical Guitar Retreat.

Laura Husbands. Received a full scholarship to complete an Artist Diploma at Lamont University, Colorado 2009. In June 2011 she received an Artist Diploma in classical guitar performance as well as Lamont’s Outstanding Graduate in Performance Award. Laura Husbands was the winner of the Denver Classical Guitar Society 2010 Debut Competition and the 2011 Portland International Guitar Competition.

Marek Pasieczny. (*1980) is one of the most popular contemporary polish composers and guitarists of the younger generation. He has completed both a Masters in Guitar Performance with distinction as well as in Composition, first studying at ‘Karol Lipinski Academy of Music’ in Wroclaw under Professor Piotr Zaleski, and later at the RCS, Scotland, U.K. After winning several guitar and composition competitions in Poland and Scotland, Pasieczny’s career took off and has since established himself as a successful performer, composer and teacher. His career has taken him around the world including Europe (Poland, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Rep., Greece, UK, Holland, Switzerland), South Africa, Asia (China and Japan) Australia and New Zealand.

Catriona Mackay. Leading Scottish harpist with versatile musical skills who is a performer as well as recording artist, examiner, teacher and composer/arranger. Since graduating from RSAMD and RNCM, Catriona was NFMS “Young Concert Artist 2000/01, Radio 2 “Young Musician 1999” finalist and won “Jakez François International Celtic Harp Competition 2004”, France.

Recordings include 3 CDs with “Fiddlers’ Bid”, Scottish harp CD “Catriona McKay”, re-released Japan 2004, duo CD “Laebrack” with Chris Stout.Catriona is one of Scotland finest harpers and is at the cutting edge of the Scottish harp revival. She plays harp and piano in the Shetland based band ‘Fiddlers’ Bid’, Chris Stout Quintet and performs extensively worldwide. Catriona has devised a unique new Scottish harp ‘Starfish McKay Harp’ which was designed and made by Starfish Designs.

Louise Vickerman has earned the reputation as one of North America’s leading orchestral harpists. Vickerman was appointed Principal Harpist of The Utah Symphony/Utah Opera in 1999 and has been a featured soloist with the orchestra on a number of occasion, she has also appeared as soloist with the San Antonio Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, The Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, on BBC & Norwegian National radio & at the Heidelberg Castle Festival in Germany. Prior to her appointment in Utah, she was formerly Principal Harp for the San Antonio Symphony & The New World Symphony in Miami. Originally from Glasgow Scotland, she regularly appeared with all of Scotland’s major orchestras including The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony & Scottish Chamber Orchestra before moving to the US in 1993. She has performed at major festivals worldwide including the Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, BBC London Proms and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Entry 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

Subject recommended

  • Music at Higher, Advanced Higher or A Level or equivalent
  • English at Higher, Advanced Higher or A 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 Schools of Music in their Principal Study.

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

Entrance to the Conservatoire is based on talent, potential and ability, therefore consideration will be given to relevant experience which is deemed to compensate for any traditional education. We accept a wide range of qualification, including international qualifications. If you wish to check the suitability of your qualification/experience, please contact us ( admissions@rcs.ac.uk ).

English Language

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).

Other equivalent English Language qualifications may be considered, please contact us (admissions@rcs.ac.uk ) for more information.

  • IELTS – 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component

Audition Requirements

Audition requirements can be found in the BMus Guide for Applicants on the following website

Fees & scholarships

Tuition fees for academic year 2017-18

  • Scottish/EU Students – £1,820
  • Rest of UK (RUK) Students – £9,250
  • International (Non EU) – £15,513

Scottish/EU students

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will pay tuition fees for all eligible full-time Scottish-based and other non-UK undergraduate EU 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 their 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 financeWales , or student finance Northern Ireland as appropriate.

International students

Students from outside the EU typically fund higher education by a variety of resources, depending on the home country. More specific information on funding options relevant to specific countries can be found here .

Scholarships

Any potential student who auditions for a place at the Royal Conservatoire will automatically be considered for a scholarship. They are awarded on a combination of talent, potential and financial need. More information about Scholarships is available here

Sources of external funding

For more information about alternative funding sources, including external scholarships and bursaries, please visit here.

The Conservatoire’s International and Student Experience team are available to advise and assist applicants and current students in respect of queries about funding your studies at the Conservatoire. Please email or telephone +44 (0)141 270 8281/ +44 (0)141 270 8223 for further information.

Facilities

The Royal Conservatoire owns a 3x seven course lutes, 1 David Rouse Concert guitar, 1x Altamira Classical Guitar, 1x Manual Contreras Classical Guitar, 1x theorbo, 1x electric bass, 1x DPA contact microphone, 1x 19th century guitar and 2 AER compact 60 acoustic amplifiers. We also have 4 concerts harps – 2 Salvi, 1 Camac & 1 Horngacher. We recently received a large donation of sheet music forming a guitar specific library.

All of the above is available for students to borrow. All of the instruments are kept in the guitar room or in the AV Store. RCS students are welcome to use all of the instruments, but they are responsible for care of the instruments when they are using them.