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Summer School for Adults


Students will benefit from individual composition tuition from a respected and creative team of Royal Conservatoire’s experts and professionally-active composition Lecturers.

In order to fully optimise tutorial, rehearsal and recording opportunities, places on this course are limited to twelve students.

The deadline for booking this course is Friday 13th July 2018 at 12pm.


Students will benefit from individual composition tuition from a respected and creative team of Royal Conservatoire’s experts and professionally-active composition Lecturers.

In order to fully optimise tutorial, rehearsal and recording opportunities, places on this course are limited to twelve students.

The deadline for booking this course is Friday 13th July 2018 at 12pm.

Course outline

This intensive and demanding course will give you an opportunity to develop your individual compositional technique and voice in a questioning and supportive way.

Each day will consist of a mixture of group discussions, group rehearsals, composer talks and seminars, individual lessons and writing (and re-writing!) time.

Daily rehearsals and workshops will allow you to gradually change your work during the course leading to an informal concert that will be professionally recorded and made available to you.


Financial support

Agnes Allan Bursary

Agnes Allan was a teacher, passionate about inclusion, and this bursary scheme exists to offer support to students to participate in the performing or production arts.

The Agnes Allan Bursary provides some support to students who may require financial assistance to take part in a short course in dance, drama, music, production or screen.

Anyone who wishes to take part in our Lifelong Learning courses and faces a financial barrier can apply for bursary support to help meet the cost of tuition fees.

More information about the Agnes Allan Bursary.


Staying in Glasgow

Many of our students travel from across the world to join us for an open day, study on a short course or attend a summer school at the Royal Conservatoire.

Residential accommodation for summer school students travelling within the UK or from overseas is available at Liberty House. This is the student accommodation that our full-time students use during term time. Please note that this accommodation is only for students aged 16+.

The modern, self-contained flats are located in the city centre of Glasgow, just ten minutes walk from the Royal Conservatoire. They consist of single en-suite units and have a communal kitchen that you can use to store and prepare food during your stay. You can find more information on their website.

For 2017 summer school students, the prices start at £139.50 for 7 nights (excluding bedding pack). Kitchen packs/items are included as standard for Summer School students. Bedding packs are not provided in the bedrooms, but can be purchased from Liberty House for £30 on application.

Places are strictly limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

If you have any access requirements, Liberty Living are happy to discuss accommodation arrangements to ensure they suit you.

The Conservatoire is not able to make reservations on your behalf. Please contact Liberty Living with any queries on +44 (0)141 248 9949 or

If you are having trouble finding accommodation, please contact us directly and we will aim to help you find somewhere to stay.

If you would prefer to stay in hostel, B&B or hotel, click see our list of short term accommodation in Glasgow for a list of alternative accommodation or you can see the Visit Scotland website.


Indicative schedule

Indicative Schedule


  • 9.30am – Summer School Welcome Meeting
  • 10.30am – Tutorials
  • 12pm – Composer’s Talk
  • 2pm – Workshop
  • 4pm – Writing for Percussion workshop


  • 10am – Tutorials
  • 12pm – Composer’s Talk
  • 2pm – Workshop


  • 10am – Repertoire Session
  • 11am – Composer’s Talk
  • 12pm – Tutorials
  • 2pm – Workshop


  • 10am – Composer’s Talk
  • 11am – Tutorials
  • 2pm – Workshop


  • 10am – Final Tutorials
  • 12pm – Workshop
  • 2pm – Workshop
  • 4.30pm – Evaluation and Discussion

In addition to the above indicative schedule, students should note that outwith the daily tutorials and workshops, participants will be expected to work each evening on their compositions. The Conservatoire and facilities will remain open until 9pm each evening to support independent study.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a relatively advanced understanding of notational skills and preferably access to music composition software such as Sibelius or Finale in order to fully benefit from this summer school.

Students will be required to submit scores and recordings (electronically if possible) for consideration by the Course Leader in advance of being accepted to the summer school.

Younger students may be accepted to the summer school at the discretion of the course leader.

Recordings can be uploaded to your online application form ideally as a Sibelius or Finale file however a private YouTube link or mp3 is also acceptable.

Preparing for your course

You should arrive for the course with a reasonable amount of plain paper, manuscript and pens.

You may find bringing a laptop with composition software as a useful addition.


At a glance...

Composition 10am - 5pm 20180817 505 Application Deadline: 20180713


Promotional Offers

We offer a selection of promotional offers for our Lifelong Learning courses, take a look!

To receive the promotional offer code, contact before booking a course.


How to apply

Please note a deposit of £50 will be required upon application to this course, this deposit will be refunded in full if your application is unsuccessful. Payment of the balance of the tuition fee is payable once applicants have been notified that they have been successful in their application to the course and have been sent the second-stage booking link.

Who is this course for?

We are looking for dynamic and imaginative composers to take part in this summer school.

This course is about you as an individual composer, focusing on your own thoughts, ideas and desires that you put in your music. It will help you to think on your own, to create in your own distinctive way and communicate with performers, other composers and audience.

Students who would benefit from this intensive and highly practical course may be composers who are:

  • preparing to audition for courses in music conservatoires
  • currently studying at a conservatoire or university
  • wishing to enhance their compositional skills and experiences
  • wishing to enhance their musical experience by working with the composition team and musicians at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Please note this course is not suitable for composers who wish to focus on writing for film.

Teaching staff

Dr Gordon McPherson

Dr Gordon McPherson was born in Dundee in 1965. He studied at the University of York and returned there for his Doctorate. He followed this with post-doctoral work at the Royal Northern College of Music. Recent works include: ‘The Baby Bear’s Bed’ – a large amplified work commissioned for London-based ensemble Icebreaker and premiered in Vienna; ‘The Waterworks’ – a large, hour long multi-media investigation into alien abductions, commissioned and premiered by the Paragon Ensemble; ‘The New Black’ – a large scale orchestral work commissioned by the BBC; ‘Ghosts’ – three orchestral nocturnes, funded as part of the Creative Scotland Awards; and ‘Blood’ – a concerto for oud and orchestra commissioned by the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.

He has recently completed ‘Stunt Doubles’ for sextet and virtual sextet, commissioned for the twentieth anniversary of Psappha, which has resulted in a series of duo ‘Stunt Doubles’ for various solo and virtual solo instruments, recent additions include ‘Page 40’ for cello and virtual cello; and ‘The Pounding Room’ for piano and virtual piano commissioned as the test piece for the 2017 Scottish International Piano Competition. He is currently working on ‘Meat’ – an alien conspiracy opera for robotic voices; and ‘The Passions’ – a large scale music theatre version of the Passion of Christ commissioned by Red Note, based on the Lorimer Scots translation of the New Testament to be premiered in 2016-2017 season.

He has taught composition since his student days and has posts at the University of Edinburgh, University of St Andrews, RNCM as well as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he was asked to build a composition department in 1999 – something that has kept him very busy for the past seventeen years.




Oliver Searle

Oliver originally studied to become a classroom music teacher at Aberdeen University and in 2000, he moved to Glasgow, where he studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with John Maxwell Geddes, gaining a Distinction for his Masters degree in 2002. He completed a PhD in composition in 2006 and has written works for the Paragon Ensemble, the National Youth Choir of Scotland, the Hebrides Ensemble, Psappha, Red Note, the Scottish Reed Trio, the BBCSSO, Illuminati, SYMPOSiA, the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, the New Music Players and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In 2002, he received a silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians in London and in 2004 he won the Mendelssohn Scholarship. Over the last few years, he has had works performed in the Glasgow Proms and at festivals and venues in Oxford, Edinburgh, Manchester, Aldeburgh, Cluj-Napoca, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Verona and Berlin, with several broadcasts in Europe and Asia.

Recent endeavours include Technophonia, working with Drake Music Scotland, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad (nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award and a British Composer Award), and a music theatre project for the Commonwealth Games in 2014