An Overview

Designed for students interested in furthering their development in jazz at postgraduate level, this specialist pathway is led by internationally renowned jazz saxophonist and composer (and Head of the Jazz BMus pathway) Professor Tommy Smith OBE and offers bespoke tuition from some of the best jazz musicians and educators in Scotland.

We offer one-to-one lessons per week on your principal study instrument ­, allowing you to maximise your instrumental skills and potential.

In addition to this we also offer second study modules should you have an interest in developing a second instrument with an additional session of one-to-one tuition per week.

Our MMus Jazz pathway is designed to accommodate both jazz performers and jazz writer/arrangers. The course is highly bespoke and you will have a large amount of control in the way that your studies are structured.

This programme is tailored to fit individual needs and requirements, allowing the student to focus on preferred areas of interest and specialism.

As the MMus Jazz pathway is still relatively young, there’s a lot of focus on the department and this offers many opportunities for jazz students to perform both inside and outside of the institution and for writer/arrangers to have their compositions and arrangements performed.

The jazz scene in Glasgow and Scotland is thriving and there are many performance opportunities both within the Conservatoire and without – our students have negotiated many external performance opportunities in surrounding venues which means there’s live music happening almost every night of the week.

We also run a regular “Blue Mondays” concert series which features students and tutors or guest performers in the very popular “Ledger Room” public concert space within the RCS which provides excellent exposure and experience for all our students on a regular basis.

Past guest artists that have appeared in Blue Mondays concerts with our students include Randy BreckerBill EvansJacqui DankworthPeter ErskinePaolo Fresu and Arild Andersen. Other masterclasses have featured Courtney PineMakoto OzoneDavid Liebman and Branford Marsalis. Students have seen these great musicians up close, working with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, in the RCS.

Institution Code:

R58

Programme Code:

MMus: 808F / MA: 807F

UK Deadline:

3 October 2022

International Deadline:

1 December 2022

Programme Structure

Principal Study 1 — 80 SCQF credits

Supporting Studies 1 — 30, 20 or 10 SCQF credits

Practice Research — 10 SCQF credits

Options — 0, 10 or 20 SCQF credits

Principal Study

The primary focus of your learning will be the Principal Study.

This core activity — and in particular, the individual lesson — will refine the skills essential to meeting the artistic and technical expectations of the programme. It will equip you with many of the skills needed to exercise independent learning and develop the autonomy necessary for a professional career.

In the case of the degrees in Performance, and Historically Informed Performance Practice, the Principal Study is your instrumental or vocal discipline.

Within the credit assigned for Principal Study, the contact hours are flexibly assigned to suit your particular needs as a student.

Supporting Studies

Supporting Studies incorporates many of the distinctive features of conservatoire study, and contributes towards the creation of a near-professional learning environment.

In this module, you will have the opportunity to take part in a range of negotiated activities in support both of your Principal Study and your development as an emerging professional. The emphasis is on working with your peers, whether through the presentation of performance classes or collaborative activities such as chamber music, orchestra or ensemble work.

The module also incorporates a series of cohort-wide graduate seminars, addressing such areas as research skills, critical thinking, professional development, reflective practice, health and wellbeing, and equality and diversity.

Practice Research

This module challenges you to examine critically an aspect of your arts practice by means of an individually-negotiated portfolio of research, reflection and/or documentation.

Over the course of your studies, with the support of a supervisor, you will assemble a portfolio of documentation and reflective writing that interrogates a self-chosen research focus and communicates your findings.

Options

Options give space within the curriculum for you to engage in studies which enhance your professional versatility, by pursuing areas of interest either close to or far away from your core discipline. The range of modules available is very wide, including otions drawn from the undergraduate programmes in both the School of Music and the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film. The design of the programme puts no restrictions on the level of the options/s chosen. There is a significant range of choice available in the amount of credit taken in this way, with students free to choose pathways which place greater weight on Supporting Studies.

Principal Study 2 — 90 SCQF credits

Supporting Studies 2 — 30, 20 or 10 SCQF credits

Options — 0, 10 or 20 SCQF credits

Principal Study

The primary focus of your learning will be the Principal Study.

This core activity — and in particular, the individual lesson — will refine the skills essential to meeting the artistic and technical expectations of the programme.

It will equip you with many of the skills needed to exercise independent learning and develop the autonomy necessary for a professional career. In the case of the degrees in Performance, and Historically Informed Performance Practice, the Principal Study is your instrumental or vocal discipline.

Within the credit assigned for Principal Study, the contact hours are flexibly assigned to suit your particular needs as a student.

Supporting Studies

Supporting Studies incorporates many of the distinctive features of conservatoire study, and contributes towards the creation of a near-professional learning environment.

In this module, you will have the opportunity to take part in a range of negotiated activities in support both of your Principal Study and your development as an emerging professional.

The emphasis is on working with your peers, whether through the presentation of performance classes or collaborative activities such as chamber music, orchestra or ensemble work. The module also incorporates a series of cohort-wide graduate seminars, addressing such areas as research skills, critical thinking, professional development, reflective practice, health and wellbeing, and equality and diversity.

Options

Options give space within the curriculum for you to engage in studies which enhance your professional versatility, by pursuing areas of interest either close to or far away from your core discipline. The range of modules available is very wide, including otions drawn from the undergraduate programmes in both the School of Music and the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film. The design of the programme puts no restrictions on the level of the options/s chosen. There is a significant range of choice available in the amount of credit taken in this way, with students free to choose pathways which place greater weight on Supporting Studies.

The MA and MMus programmes share many similarities, with the first three terms of the programme being common to both. The chief differences are in the length and volume of study, and in the pattern of delivery in relation to the four terms that make up the academic calendar. There are also some differences in the programme aims and learning outcomes, and in the proportional number of hours available for principal study lessons.

The MA degree is designed for students who wish to achieve a Masters level qualification in one year, with 180 SCQF credits at level 11 (90 ECTS credits). The programme runs full-time for four terms, 43 weeks in total, with the fourth term being dedicated to a largely independent project. 31 weeks of 90 minutes principal study lessons are offered, to a total of 46.5 hours. (Nine extra hours may be allocated to additional study of a related instrument, where appropriate).

The MMus degree is intended for students who are seeking an extended and thorough professional grounding at Masters level in their chosen area of specialism. This is a two-year, full-time programme, leading to 240 SCQF credits at level 11 (120 ECTS credits). The majority of the teaching and learning takes place in terms one, two and three of both years, to a total of 81 hours across the two years. (Nine extra hours may be allocated to additional study of a related instrument, where appropriate).

Head of Jazz – Tommy Smith

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a dynamic conservatoire bursting with potential and creativity. It’s the place you want to be if you desire to truly be the best musician you can be.”

Born in Edinburgh, Smith grew up in the housing schemes and began his prolific career at 14 when his quartet won Best Band, and he received Best Musician Trophy at the 1981 Edinburgh Jazz Festival. A year later, he was invited to appear on the TV show ‘Jazz at the Gateway’ with Niels Henning Ørsted Petersen and Jon Christensen; toured with the European Youth Jazz Orchestra, and recorded his quintet for BBC Radio. At 16, he released his first two albums, Giant Strides and Taking Off! and studied at Berklee with financial assistance from Sean Connery.

He joined Gary Burton’s quintet after a recommendation from Chick Corea at 18, toured worldwide, and recorded on ECM’s album Whiz Kids. Smith has documented over thirty solo albums for Blue Note, Linn, ECM and his own Spartacus Record label; toured 50+ countries, composed over 300 works, and collaborated with musicians, poets, and visual artists, including Arild AndersenScofieldMacCaigAlan DavieKenny MunroJacoWheelerDeJohnetteLiz LochheadChristine de LucaTrilok, and poet Edwin Morgan who he developed a unique artistic relationship in 1996 collaborating on 55 works of poetry and music.

In 1995 he established the SNJO and ensured its progress until funding began in 1998. He founded the TSYJO in 2002 to provide an educational opportunity for the country’s best young jazz musicians and fought to establish the first full-time jazz course in Scotland. In 2009 Smith was appointed head of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and became Professor in 2010.

Smith holds numerous jazz accolades: 2 BBC, 2 British, 2 UK Parliamentary and 9 Scottish – Jazz Awards. His contributions to Jazz were recognised nationally when in 1998, he became the youngest-ever recipient of an honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in recognition of his extraordinary artistic achievement. He subsequently received honorary doctorates from Glasgow Caledonian and Edinburgh Universities. In 2019 he was given an OBE for services to Jazz from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


Masterclasses and international workshops
  • David Liebman
  • Bill Evans
  • Arlid Andersen
  • Makoto Ozone
  • Jacqui Dankworth
  • Kurt Elling
  • Paolo Fresu
  • Peter Erskine & Tommy Smith
  • Randy Brecker

Graduate Destinations

Jazz graduates have been recipients of the prestigious Yamaha Jazz Scholarship, with bassist David Bowden and pianists Peter Johnstone and Utsav Lal obtaining scholarships; Peter and Utsav have also recorded a CD for the cover of Jazzwise magazine, and performed at the Houses of Parliament.

  • Fergus McCreadie Trio (graduates Fergus McCreadie, David Bowden and Stephen Henderson) won a 2019 Scottish Jazz Award for Best Album
  • Strata (formed of graduates Liam Shortall, Fergus McCreadie, Joe Williamson, Mark Hendry and Graham Costello) have received excellent reviews for their album Obelisk, which was also nominated for Scottish Album of the Year, 2019
  • Utsav Lal performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York City
  • Brodie Jarvie and John Lowrie performed at the London Jazz Festival, as well as presented their own jazz concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Brodie Jarvie, Michael Butcher and Stephen Henderson performed in Hanover as part of the UNESCO City of Music and Creative City Network
  • Joe Williamson and his group Square One released their debut album in 2017, following their win of the prestigious Peter Whittingham Jazz Award
  • Many graduates and their bands have featured on BBC Jazz at the Quay, including Square One, David Bowden’s Mezcla, , Fat-Suit, Strata and Joe Williamson

 

“Costello’s Strata has been setting a standard of musicianship that has seasoned observers talking about Glasgow as a jazz hotbed of approaching New York proportions.”

– The Herald on graduate jazz band Strata

Why Choose Us

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is in the World Top 10 for performing arts education 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022 (QS World Rankings)

  • Receive one-to-one tuition on your principal study per week
  • Study in Glasgow, home to the Scottish Jazz Festival, with hundreds of jazz gigs, concerts and events taking place each month
  • Work in dedicated jazz rehearsal spaces, and record and mix your own music in our recording studio with a full-time professional sound engineer
  • Learn from the best educators and highly acclaimed jazz performers in the UK
  • Benefit from close links to the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and its international guests, enabling you to attend rehearsals and performances, and observe professionals at work
  • Audition for the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and perform regular concerts in Scotland, as well as recording for Spartacus Recording Ltd
  • Audition for the Jazz Workshop, a unique opportunity for jazz students to tour across Europe, performing in conservatoires and festivals throughout the continent
  • Perform in Fridays at One and Blue Mondays concerts and masterclass series featuring guest teachers; past clinicians include Jazzmeia Horn, Jacqui Dankworth, Bob Minzter, Mike Stern, Makoto Ozone, Courtney Pine, Branford Marsalis, David Liebman, Peter Erskine, Paolo Fresu, Randy Brecker and Arild Andersen
  • Perform in monthly ‘Jazz at the Chimp’ events featuring student-led projects
  • Undergraduate music students can take advantage of learning within this unique Scottish conservatoire and undertake a module within traditional music, enabling you to broaden your repertoire, musicality and ensemble arrangement practices