Skip to main content

Timpani and Percussion Department (Undergraduate)

The Timpani & Percussion is a vibrant department where you can develop your style as a percussionist, collaborate with experienced teachers, and gain the experience you need for your future career.  


The Timpani and Percussion department is a close-knit and supportive environment where collaboration with your teachers and visiting professionals is prioritised. We offer a wide range of performing opportunities that are key in preparing you for a career in professional music.  

Our teaching staff are all top-level performers with considerable experience performing in the UK, Europe and further afield. You will receive weekly lessons split between timpani and percussion. We have weekly orchestral repertoire classes, and everyone receives regular tuition in drum kit and Latin percussion with visiting lecturer Dave Hassell and in marimba playing with international marimba consultant Eric Sammut.  

The recent appointment of international percussion soloist Colin Currie as RCS Associate Artist has given our percussion students a fantastic opportunity to learn from Colin’s vast experience during his RCS  ensemble projects and receive one-to-one percussion coaching with him. 

There are regular performing opportunities in RCS orchestras and ensembles, encompassing symphonic, opera, chamber orchestra and contemporary repertoire. Collaboration is encouraged. You can work directly with composers to create new music or play in musical theatre productions. There are excellent side-by-side schemes with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, with whom you can experience playing with and learning from world-class players and conductors.  

The RCS has a large and growing collection of percussion and timpani available for all your study, tuition and performances in the RCS. We are now anticipating the arrival of two new sets of Lefima pedal timpani, equipped with calf heads and Berlin-style pedals. This will enhance the conservatoire’s collection of baroque, classical and plastic-headed timpani to make sure our students have the best opportunity to prepare for the wide range of timpani encountered in orchestras and auditions worldwide. 

We will enable each student to find their playing style and prepare them for a musical career in which versatile performance skills are combined with the ability to collaborate confidently.  

The important details

UK Applicant Deadline:
2 October 2023

International Applicant Deadline:
1 December 2023

Institution Code:

Programme Code:
Performance - 300F OR Joint Principal Study - 301F

Audition Fee:

Application Fee:

Why Study Timpani & Percussion With Us?


Dedicated Staff & Small Class Sizes

You will learn from teaching staff who play at the highest level and toured internationally as members of orchestras. Our small class sizes offer you maximal access to practice facilities and ensembles. 



Focused Learning Experiences

You will receive 40.5 hours of principal study tuition and supporting studies classes each academic year. These lessons are split between percussion and timpani. Throughout your studies, staff will provide you with bespoke feedback. In addition, weekly orchestral repertoire classes and regular performance classes prepare you to collaborate and learn from your peers. 


Collaborative Performances

The programme offers collaborative activities such as performing in the RCS Plug Festival. You will work directly with musicians and composers across the RCS community to create new solo music and play in musical theatre productions, ensembles, symphonic, chamber, opera, wind orchestra and brass groups. 


Professional Connections & Practice Spaces

International percussion artists will deliver masterclasses to you and throughout your studies. You will connect with professionals in a supportive environment through our  side-by-side schemes with Scotland’s leading orchestras. Further,  our three dedicated timpani and percussion studios and collection of high-quality instruments provide you with the space and tools to hone your craft.  

Meet the Staff

Additional Teaching Staff by Instrument

  • Timpani

    Paul Philbert
    Louise Lewis Goodwin
  • Percussion

    Tom Hunter
    Alasdair Kelly
    Simon Lowdon ARAM
  • Special Consultants

    Eric Sammut
    Dave Hassell
    Colin Currie


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 – Internationally celebrated Marimbist and Clinician
  • Kroumata – long established Swedish percussion ensemble
  • Dame Evelyn Glennie – International Percussion Soloist
  • Joe Locke – World -renowned Jazz Vibraphonist
  • David Searcy – Principal Timpanist La Scala Milan and International Clinician
  • Simon Carrington – Principal Timpanist The London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Keith Aleo – Avedis Zildjian Company
  • Neil Grover – Boston Symphony orchestra
  • Neil Percy – Principal Percussion London Symphony Orchestra
  • Louise Goodwin – Principal Timpanist Scottish Chamber Orchestra


The timpani and percussion department comprises three large studios for exclusive use by timpani and percussion students, equipped with a huge collection of timpani and percussion instruments. We can accommodate the practice of all percussion disciplines with ease within these rooms, from snare drum solos to complex multi-percussion setups The imminent arrival of two sets of Lefima pedal timpani with calf skins will add to our collection of baroque, classical and modern timpani, matching the wide range of instruments encountered in professional orchestras in Scotland and beyond – this is also increasingly important when preparing for timpani auditions worldwide.

RCS has excellent performance spaces, where you will gain experience performing with RCS’s orchestras and ensembles in addition to solo and chamber music performances in percussion concerts and recital examinations. RCS has excellent recording facilities and a superb music library.  

The front of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland building during a sunny day.

Graduate Destinations

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

Alumni include: 

  • 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 
  • John Poulter – Royal Scottish National Orchestra 
  • Gordon Rigby – BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 
  • Philip Hague – 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 
  • Martin Willis – Scottish Ballet 

Programme Structure

The programme structure for your studies will depend on whether you choose to undertake [instrument] principal study as part of BMus (Hons) Performance or BMus (Hons) Joint Principal Study. The content and modules for each programme are available on their respective pages:

BMus (Hons) Performance

BMus (Hons) Joint Principal Study

How to Apply

More information about how to apply, including entry requirements and tuition fee & funding information, is available on either our BMus (Hons) Performance page, or BMus (Hons) Joint Principal Study page, depending on which pathway you are interested in. The specific audition requirements for this principal study are detailed below:

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: here.


Details of the repertoire requested for your in-person audition and 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) 



  • 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 of Marimba (optional). 

More from the Timpani & Percussion 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.