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BMus Jazz

Introduction

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.

 

Introduction

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.

 

Programme structure

Year 1

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.

  • Original Jazz Composition 1 (+ Harmony 1)
  • Performance Of Jazz History 1 (+ Jazz Transcription 1)
  • Complementary Jazz Skills
  • Music Business 1
  • Chord Scale Harmony 1 (+ Notation by Hand)
  • Jazz Repertoire 1
  • Ear Training 1

Year 2

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.

  • Original Jazz Composition 2 (+ Harmony 2)
  • Performance Of Jazz History 2 (+ Jazz Transcription 2)
  • Music Business 2
  • Chord Scale Harmony 2
  • Notation Using Software
  • Jazz Repertoire 2
  • Ear Training 2

Year 3

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.

  • Original Jazz Composition 3 (+ Harmony 3)
  • Arranging For Big Band
  • Studio Recording (Jazz) 1
  • Music Business 3
  • Latin Ensemble Repertoire
  • Jazz Repertoire 3
  • Ear Training 3

Year 4

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.

  • Original Jazz Composition 4 (+ Harmony 4)
  • Composition For Jazz Orchestra
  • Studio Recording (Jazz) 2
  • Music Business 4
  • Jazz Repertoire 4
  • Ear Training 4

Staff and masterclasses

Tommy SmithHead of Jazz

TS_Smith_Photo_by_Michael_Clark-300x248Tommy Smith (b.1967) is a leading light in European jazz, first and foremost as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, and latterly as the founder and current director of The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO). These career-defining achievements are framed by his status as an international recording artist; a composer and arranger of extraordinary ambition; and not least, as a jazz educator.

His prolific career began in earnest when, aged only sixteen, he recorded his first album Giant Strides. He was rewarded with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, an experience that has shaped his affirmative approach to jazz. Since then, he has made twenty-seven solo albums as a leader for Blue Note, Linn and his own label Spartacus Records.

Smith has also earned the regard, support and friendship of the many respected jazz figures with whom he has collaborated and created great jazz. They include, but are not limited to, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny, Barron, Arild Andersen, John Scofield and Trilok Gurtu. His tenure with the SNJO has seen critically acclaimed performances and recordings of programmed and commissioned works including hugely popular treatments of Ellington, Gershwin, Weather Report and Miles Davis.

He also holds three honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt, Glasgow Caledonian & Edinburgh Universities and a Professorship from the RCS. His last group album KARMA won him his seventh Scottish Jazz Award for album of the year. Tommy Smith is also founder/director of The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra [2001] and has been Head of Jazz of the first ever full-time jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 2009. At the RCS he teaches Saxophone, Music Business, Chord Scale Harmony, Jazz Repertoire, Studio Recording, Performance of Jazz History and Notation by Hand.

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Our teaching staff includes players of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.

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JAZZ MASTERCLASSES

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

  • Martin Kershaw
  • Michael Janisch

2016

  • Mike Stern
  • Tom Gordon
  • Graeme Stephen

Why choose us?

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is third in the world for performing arts education.

  • A teaching team featuring the best educators and highly acclaimed jazz performers
  • Close links to the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, enabling you to watch professional at work
  • An opportunity to audition for the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and perform regular concerts in Scotland, as well as record for Spartacus Records
  • Recording and mixing sessions, in year four, with opportunities to release an album on the RCS record label
  • Dedicated jazz studio for you to record your compositions
  • The Jazz department works annually with BBC Radio Scotland to enable to broadcast your own compositions on the Jazz House programme
  • Fridays at One and our Blue Mondays concert and masterclass series featuring guest teachers. Past clinicians have included Bob Minzter, Mike Stern, Makoto Ozone, Courtney Pine, Jacqui Dankworth, Branford Marsalis, David Liebman, Peter Erskine, Paolo Fresu, Randy Brecker and Arild Anderson

How to apply

Before applying we recommend that you follow our Applicant Guide journey which provides all the essential information regarding entry requirements, and the full application and audition process.

Begin your Applicant Journey here.

 

Making your application

Applications for the BMus programme should be made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. There is a UCAS application fee of £25 (which is in addition to the audition fee) which allows you up to six choices of programme of study.

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.

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

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.

Graduate destinations

Several of our graduates including Peter Johnstone, Brodie Jarvie and John Lowrie have been featured this year in the London Jazz Festival in addition to working freelance around Scotland and presenting their own concerts in jazz venues in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Peter also won the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the year award in 2013 and a Yamaha Scholarship in London as part of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

Facilities

The RCS Jazz Pathway enjoys the use of two completely dedicated jazz ensemble spaces within the main Renfrew street facility. One of these dedicated jazz spaces is a fully equipped recording facility that gives our students a tangible edge in gaining experience in professional recording and production techniques.

Each space is equipped with a Yamaha grand piano, drum set, smart board, listening centre and amplifiers for bassists and guitarists as well as moveable acoustic dampening. The recording studio boasts an extensive array of microphones and effects units necessary for producing high fidelity recordings digitally.

Jazz concerts and recitals are frequently held in the Stephenson Hall, The Ledger Room and the AGOS facility within the RCS. Students have also been known to perform informal concerts in the café bar area from time to time.

Images and videos

 

Blue Mondays

 

 

Auditions

The BMus Jazz pathway audition is designed to assess an applicant’s improvisational skills. There are two stages to the Jazz audition.

Stage 1 – Recorded Audition Assessment

Submit a video of yourself performing the following pieces listed below with a live section or a play-a-long/minus-one backing track.

    • Performance of OLEO in Bb concert, by Sonny Rollins at any tempo [Singers may alter the key to suit their range.] You must perform the OLEO melody plus a minimum of 3 improvised choruses [AABA x 3] of improvisation interacting musically with the other musicians. Drummers should play the melody rhythmically. All solos should be improvised. You should not play a transcribed solo.
    • Your choice of a ‘Jazz standard’ that contrasts the Rhythm Changes.

You then may be called back for a live audition conducted by a member of the RCS Jazz faculty in November.

Stage 2 – Live Audition and Interview

Before your live audition, you will have an additional 15 minutes in an allocated room to warm-up. Please note that no drums, guitar/bass amp will be provided in the warm-up room.

Audition

Your performance must contain improvisation and you will play with a live trio from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A rhythm section will be available at the audition.

Your audition is in four parts:

    • Performance of OLEO in Bb concert, by Sonny Rollins at any tempo [Singers may alter the key to suit their range.] You must perform the OLEO melody plus a minimum of 3 improvised choruses [AABA x 3] of improvisation interacting musically with the other musicians. Drummers should play the melody rhythmically. All solos should be improvised. You should not play a transcribed solo.
    • Your choice of a ‘Jazz standard’ that contrasts the Rhythm Changes.
    • A brief aural test featuring intervals, chords, scales and modes.
    • An informal discussion concerning your goals and aspirations. An opportunity to ask the panel questions about the Jazz course, the Scottish Jazz scene and Conservatoire life.

The audition room is equipped with a grand piano, jazz drum kit, vocal PA and guitar and bass amps.

Checklist

The following checklist will help remind you of items you may need for your audition:

  • All acoustic and electric bass players, brass players, guitarists and saxophone players are required to bring their instruments to the audition. A vocal PA and microphone will be set up in the room for vocalists.
  • Amplifiers for guitarists and bass players will be provided in the audition room but not in the warm up room. Drummers should bring sticks and a practice pad, as the warm-up room will not have a drum kit.
  • A standard jazz drum kit (bass drum, floor tom, upper tom, snare) with two cymbals and hi-hat will be provided for drum auditions (double-bass pedals are not provided). Drummers can bring their own cymbals if they wish.

Finally, the Jamey Aebersold play-a-long series provides wonderful practice materials and will help you prepare and stimulate improvisation for the audition. www.aebersold.com

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.