Skip to main content

MMus/MA Jazz

Studying Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire offers a high level of training to cultivate your development as a creative and versatile jazz performer. 

Overview

The MMus and MA Jazz programmes are specialist pathways designed for students interested in furthering their development in jazz at the postgraduate level. Led by internationally renowned jazz saxophonist and composer Tommy Smith OBE, these programmes offer bespoke tuition from Scotland’s best jazz performers and educators.   

These programmes accommodate performers, writers, and arrangers. The tailored courses fit individual needs and requirements, allowing students to focus on specific areas of interest and specialisms. Regular one-to-one lessons centred on a principal study instrument support students in maximising their skills and potential. Additional one-to-one lessons are available for those interested in developing a second instrument. Concert series and masterclasses also give students excellent exposure and regular opportunities to perform with tutors, guest performers, and jazz orchestras.  

The strong connections between RCS and external professional organisations prepare our students to contribute to vibrant jazz scenes across Scotland and beyond. Participating in the greater jazz community widens our students’ prospects, supporting their transitions into the professional jazz scene. 

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
2 October 2023

International (including EU) Applicant Deadline:
1 December 2023

Institution Code:
R58

Programme Code:
MMus - 808F / MA - 807F

Audition Fee:
£65

Application Fee:
£27.50


Welcome to the Jazz Department

Watch our short video for an introduction to the Jazz department at RCS.

We spoke to some current jazz students about what makes RCS special and how their time here has prepared them to graduate into a career in the industry.

Why Study Jazz at RCS?

One-to-one Tuition with Highly-Acclaimed Staff


Our department offers you regular one-to-one tuition where you will learn from highly acclaimed jazz performers and educators with international recognition. Additionally, you will learn from guest teachers through regular participation in our jazz masterclass series. 

 

Dedicated Practice Spaces


Our dedicated jazz rehearsal spaces and recording studios will provide you with essential tools that support your studies. In addition, staff members like our full-time professional sound engineer are ready to help you record, mix, and distribute your music.

Performance & Networking Opportunities


Studying in Glasgow, home to the Scottish Jazz Festival, with hundreds of monthly jazz gigs, concerts, and events gives you ample opportunities to network and perform. Our partnerships with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra will boost your development of professional connections. Additionally, you will perform in monthly student-led events and projects. 

Meet the Head of Department

Tommy Smith is a Professor and Head of Jazz at RCS and the director of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. In 1998, he became the youngest-ever recipient of an honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in recognition of his extraordinary artistic achievement. In 2019, Smith was awarded an OBE for services to Jazz from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Smith holds honorary doctorates from Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Edinburgh.   

Smith’s early years include prolific achievements such as receiving international awards, appearing on national television and radio programmes, and touring with the European Youth Jazz Orchestra. By age 16, he released his first two albums – ‘Giant Strides’ and ‘Taking Off!’. His reputation continued to grow following his studies at Berklee College of Music. 

In 1981, Smith won the Best Musician Trophy at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. He established the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 1995, Spartacus Records in 2000, founded the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2002, and developed Scotland’s first full-time jazz course. Smith has been with RCS since 2009.     

Tommy is looking at the camera. He is holding a saxophone.

Meet the Staff

  • Dr Colin Broom

    Jazz Coordinator

  • Paul Harrison

    Piano, Composition, Ear Training

  • Peter Johnstone

    Piano, Harmony, Ear Training

  • Tom Gibbs

    Piano, History

  • Ryan Quigley

    Trumpet

  • Tom MacNiven

    Trumpet

  • Gerard Presencer

    Trumpet

  • Laura Macdonald

    Saxophone, Ear Training, Rep

  • Konrad Wiszniewski

    Saxophone

  • Kevin MacKenzie

    Guitar, Chord Scales, Rep

  • Mario Caribe

    Bass, Arranging, Harmony

  • Alyn Cosker

    Drums

  • Rachel Lightbody

    Voice

  • Gordon Campbell

    Trombone

  • Andrew Robb

    Master's Ensembles

  • Nadja von Massow

    Music Business

Masterclasses and International Workshops

  • David Liebman
  • Bill Evans
  • Arlid Andersen
  • Makoto Ozone
  • Jacqui Dankworth
  • Kurt Elling
  • Paolo Fresu
  • Peter Erskine
  • Randy Brecker
  • Jazzmeia Horn
  • Laura Jurd
  • Lucy-Anne Daniels
  • Gwilym Simcock
  • Geoffery Keezer

Graduate Destinations

Jazz graduates have been recipients of prestigious awards, featured in magazines, and invited to perform internationally. 

 Alumni include: 

  • Fergus McCreadie Trio, 2019 Scottish Jazz Award for Best Album; Fergus McCreadie, 2022 Scottish Album of the Year Award  
  • Strata, nominated for Scottish Album of the Year, 2019; BBC Jazz at the Quay  
  • Utsav Lal, Yamaha Jazz Scholarship recipient; Yamaha Jazz Scholar; performances at the Carnegie Hall and House of Parliaments; Jazz Wise Magazine cover 
  • Brodie Jarvie & John Lowrie, London Jazz Festival 
  • Michael Butcher, Brodie Jarvie, & Stephen Henderson, UNESCO City of Music and Creative City Network performances
  • Joe Williamson and Square One, Peter Whittingham Jazz Award; BBC Jazz at the Quay 
  • David Bowden, BBC Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year; Yamaha Jazz Scholarship award; BBC Jazz and the Quay 
  • Fat-Suit, BBC Jazz at the Quay 
  • Peter Johnstone, Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year; Yamaha Scholarship; Jazzwise Magazine cover; House of Parliaments performance; Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s resident pianist 
  • Ewan Hastie won BBC Young Musician of the Year 2022 

Programme Structure

The MMus is the standard two-year programme undertaken by most students. 

The MA is a shortened version of the programme for students who wish to get a Master’s Degree in a single year of study. 

The first three terms of the MMus and MA are identical: MA students complete a further module in term 4 to complete the degree in a single year. There is no difference in the degrees: both concentrate mainly on performance rather than academic work

Principal Study 1 – 80 Credits (H5) 

  • 27 weeks of 90-minute individual lessons 
  • 2-3 negotiated performance assessments 

 Supporting Studies 1 – 30/20/10 Credits 

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as ensembles, rehearsals, masterclasses and concerts 

Practice Research – 10 Credits  

  • Research project 

Options – 0/10/20 Credits  

  • Range of optional classes drawn from School of Music and School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film 

Negotiated Study – 60 Credits 

  • Individual composition, performance or academic project 

Principal Study 2 – 90 Credits 

  • 27 weeks of 90-minute individual lessons 
  • 2-3 negotiated performance assessments 

Supporting Studies 2 – 30/20/10 Credits  

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as ensembles, rehearsals, masterclasses and concerts 

Options – 0/10/20 Credits  

  • Range of optional classes drawn from School of Music and School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film

Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

A good honours degree (at least 2:2), or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme. 

English language requirements

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 following 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 the UCAS Conservatoires application as 2.


Fees & Funding

Tuition fees

UK:  

  • MMus:  
    • Full-time: £12,870 
    • Part-time: £27,467 
  • MA:
    • £17,875 

International: 

  • MMus 
    • Full-time: £27,467 
    • Part-time: £13,734 
  • MA:
    • £35,090 

Funding & Scholarships

You can find out about the funding and scholarships available for studying at RCS by visiting our dedicated page:

Funding & Scholarships

Cost of Living & Programme Costs

In addition to tuition fees, it is estimated that you will need between £11,200 and £15,300 per year to live in Glasgow, plus programme costs. Much will depend on your lifestyle and whether your course runs for three or four terms. 

Programmes within the School of Music have a range of associated costs related to the specific activities required and advised by the programme team. You can find an indication of these costs below: 

School of Music Programme Costs


How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through the 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.

You can read our guidance about using UCAS Conservatoires on our dedicated how-to-apply page.

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. You will also require the following program codes to apply: MMus – 808F / MA – 807F

The closing date for all on-time UK applications is 2 October 2023, and for international applications is 1 December 2023.  If you submit your application after these dates, we cannot guarantee that your application will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications

Application/Audition fees

There is a UCAS Conservatoires application fee of £27.50. In addition to the application fee, each conservatoire charges an audition assessment administration fee. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland charges an audition assessment administration fee of £65 for this programme.

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.

Policy

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.

References

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 based on merit and potential. However, due attention is also paid to the range of Principal Studies accepted 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. 

Audition Information

All auditions are planned to take place in person at our campus in Glasgow in November 2023.  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. 

 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 the 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:

The audition will assess the candidate’s suitability for the programme in terms of knowledge, experience and commitment. The panel will be looking for the following: 

  • A high degree of technical competency in the instrument or voice in the service of a specific repertoire 
  • An ability to demonstrate a considerable degree of understanding of the repertoire performed 
  • An ability to perform specific repertoire convincingly 
  • A considerable degree of self-confidence and creativity concerning the repertoire performed 
  • A degree of self-sufficiency, initiative and independence in selecting, preparing and performing a particular programme 
  • A developing musical personality 

Details of the repertoire requested for your in-person audition and recorded submission can be found below: 

The MA/MMus Jazz pathway audition is designed to assess an applicant’s improvisational skills. You can perform with a live section or a play-a-long/minus-one backing track: 

 

  1. OLEO by Sonny Rollins (Rhythm Changes)
  • Key: Bb [Vocalists choose their key] 
  • Tempo: Fast 
  • Melody Form: AABA (32 bars) 
  • Improvisation Duration: Minimum 4 x AABA
    • Aims:  
      • Introduce your performance 
      • Play original improvisation interacting musically with live musicians or with an Aebersold play-a-long (Vol. 6 Track 10, Vol. 7 Track 5, Vol. 8 Track 9, Vol. 47 Track 1) 
      • Drummers play melody rhythmically, comp time, and improvise over form 
      • The chordal player must comp on one chorus
    • Avoid: 
      • Electronic play-a-longs like iRealPro 
      • Transcribed or pre-prepared solos 
  1. Original Composition
  • Aims:
    • Perform a contrasting piece (Even 8th, Latin, Ballad, 3/4, Original, etc.,) 
  • Avoid:
    • Rhythm Changes or Blues 

More from the Jazz Department

Why RCS?

We are the only place in Europe where you can study all of the performing arts on the one campus. There is a distinctive creative energy at RCS and you’ll be made to feel part of our inclusive and diverse environment from the very beginning of your studies.

Our graduates are resourceful, highly employable and members of a dynamic community of artists who make a significant impact across the globe.

At RCS, students develop not just their art but their power to use it.

Find out more 

A ballerina wearing a teal dress jumps over the Kelpies monuments in Scotland during a grey day.

World Top Ten


We were voted one of the world’s Top Ten destinations to study the performing arts (QS Rankings) in 2024, the eighth time we have been placed in the top ten since the ranking was established in 2016.