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MMus/MA Piano for Dance

The Piano for Dance programme is an innovative postgraduate degree, delivered in partnership with Scottish Ballet. 

Overview

Utilising the resources and facilities of both RCS and Scottish Ballet, this programme offers a unique mix of professional tutelage and practical application, aimed at supporting the needs of each individual student. Pianists aspiring to work within the professional dance sector receive regular mentoring from industry-established dance musicians and teachers. The programme also offers the opportunity to gain a wide range of appropriate experience, working within a professional environment alongside Scottish Ballet’s artistic staff and dancers.

From the earliest stages of training, students accompany all aspects of work with RCS and Scottish Ballet, in dance classes, rehearsals and education projects.

Additionally, you will study exam syllabus work, accompaniment skills, dance forms, dance vocabulary and core ballet and class repertoire. This helps you to develop the skills needed to give the dancers and teachers the necessary musical support in class work and rehearsals.

Solid piano technique is vital and you will also have access to regular lessons with tutors from the Keyboard department, reinforcing aspects of piano technique, keyboard harmony and repertoire.

The Piano for Dance course provides a balance between supported learning and practical application. Our partnership with Scottish Ballet allows our students to experience the realities of the professional world, whilst having the security of the experienced teaching faculty to support their continued learning.

There is a chronic lack of skilled dance pianists and it is gratifying that all our previous students have found work within the dance world.

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
2 October 2023

International (including EU) Applicant Deadline:
1 December 2023

Institution Code:
R58

Programme Code:
MMus - 803F, MA - 802F

Audition Fee:
£65

Application Fee:
£27.50


Why Study Piano for Dance at RCS?

Our unique MMus/MA Piano for Dance is the only course of its kind in the world, offering a unique mix of professional tutelage and practical application.

Practical Experience


Throughout the programme, there are a variety of practical opportunities available, including accompanying and observing regular Scottish Ballet company rehearsals and BA Modern Ballet classes focusing on both syllabus and repertoire.

State-of-the-Art Facilities


Piano for Dance students can utilise the state of the art facilities at both Scottish Ballet’s headquarters and at the Royal Conservatoire. 

One-to-One Tuition


Students receive one-to-one lessons each week on their principal study, working with highly-experienced staff from both institutions to assist in their training.

Students celebrate their graduation with a glass of champagne in the RCS cafe. They wear blue graduation gowns and formal attire.

Employability


In the HESA Graduate Outcomes survey 2019/20, 96% of RCS School of Music respondents were in work or further study.

Meet the Course Coordinator

Edward Cohen has established himself as one of the most versatile and in-demand pianists in Scotland. Equally at home as a concerto soloist, recitalist, or chamber musician, he collaborates with leading musicians in major venues and festivals across his home country and beyond. He holds extensive experience as a pianist for dance, with notable performances at the Cottier, Edinburgh, and Unlimited festivals. He has worked as a professional accompanist at renowned institutions such as the Dance School of Scotland, London Studio Centre, the RCS, Scottish Ballet, and the Urdang Academy.

Much of Edward’s work at the RCS centres around the skills required of collaborative pianists. As Lecturer in Accompaniment, he has drawn on his extensive experience to create innovative accompaniment modules for students. In addition to coordinating the Piano for Dance programme, he maintains a position as School of Music Manager, teaches both solo and collaborative piano, and regularly performs with students in both the senior and junior departments.

Externally, he is pianist for the choruses of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and sits on the board of trustees for the prestigious Westbourne Music concert series. He is also a principal study piano teacher at the University of Glasgow and delivers masterclasses in higher education institutions at home and abroad. Additionally, he serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish International Piano Competition, a role that brings together the diverse strands of his working life.

Ed Cohen poses with hands clasped.

Partnerships

RCS design and deliver the MMus/MA Piano for Dance programme in partnership with Scottish Ballet.

Work with the world-renowned company and their artistic staff and dancers throughout your studies. You will get unique and invaluable access to professional life working with the company, while honing your performance skills with acclaimed teachers in the conservatoire environment.

Read testimonies from graduates of the course on Scottish Ballet’s website.

A warm glow from stage lights is back lighting ballet dancers and creates a silhouette of their pose.

Graduate Destinations

Our graduates have gone on to work extensively within the dance world, including at:

  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Canadian National Ballet
  • Dance School of Scotland
  • English National Ballet
  • Mathew Bourne’s New Adventures
  • Northern Ballet
  • Queensland Ballet
  • Royal Academy of Dance
  • Royal Ballet School
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Royal New Zealand Ballet
  • Scottish Ballet
  • Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Programme Structure

Principal Study 1 – 80 Credits  

  • Individual lessons 
  • Performance assessments: playing for class 
  • Repertoire assessments

Supporting Studies 1 – 30/20/10 Credits  

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as improvisation, repertoire study and percussion 

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  

  • Individual lessons 
  • Performance assessments: playing for class 
  • Repertoire assessments

Supporting Studies 2 – 30/20/10 Credits  

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as improvisation, repertoire study and percussion

Options – 0/10/20 Credits  

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

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 Masters 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 in order to complete the degree in a single year. There is no difference in the nature of the degrees: both concentrate mainly on performance rather than academic work. 


Entry Requirements

Academic Requirements

Candidates for both the MMus and MA are normally expected to hold a good honours (at least 2:2) degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme.

In addition to the general entry requirements listed above, candidates will preferably already have:

  • The potential to represent the sound of an orchestral score on the piano
  • The ability to work encouragingly and effectively with others, including as part of a larger team
  • Adaptability to a range of musical styles, and to a variety of rehearsal and performance situations
  • Some experience of playing for a range of dance styles, including classical ballet, is desirable but not essential.

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 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. 


Fees & Funding

Tuition fees

UK:

MMus:

  • Full-time: £12,870
  • Part-time: £6,435

MA:

  • £17,875

International (including EU):

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 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 programmes codes to apply: MMus Piano for Dance: 803F OR MA Piano for Dance: 802F 

The closing date for on-time applications is 2 October 2023 for UK applicants, and 1 December 2023 for International students.  If you submit your application after this date, 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 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.

Audition Information

All in-person auditions are planned to take place 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.

All applicants are welcome to submit a recorded submission via Acceptd as an alternative to an in-person audition.

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

Through audition, applicants will be required to demonstrate:

  • a high degree of technical competency on the instrument or voice in the service of 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 with respect to 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/recorded submission can be found below:

Please prepare the following for your audition recording –

  • Performance of one short piano work of your own choice (approximately five minutes in length)
  • Performance of prepared ballet excerpts (which will be emailed to you once your application has been received)
  • Basic improvisations, which take the form of simple classroom warm up exercises set by a member of the ballet staff for you to accompany (videos will be emailed to you by the submission date)

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 

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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.