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MMus/MA Jazz

Introduction

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 and offers bespoke tuition from some of the best jazz musicians and educators in the Scotland.

We offer 90 minutes of one-to-one lessons each week on your principal study instrument ­­(the highest amount of contact time offered anywhere in the UK at time of publication), 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 at an additional 30 minutes per week of one-to-one tuition. (This does not detract from your 90 minutes of principal study.)

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 Brecker, Bill Evans, Jacqui Dankworth, Peter Erskine, Paolo Fresu and Arild Andersen. Other masterclasses have featured Courtney Pine, Makoto Ozone, David Liebman and Branford Marsalis. Students have seen these great musicians up close, working with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, in the RCS.

Introduction

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 and offers bespoke tuition from some of the best jazz musicians and educators in the Scotland.

We offer 90 minutes of one-to-one lessons each week on your principal study instrument ­­(the highest amount of contact time offered anywhere in the UK at time of publication), 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 at an additional 30 minutes per week of one-to-one tuition. (This does not detract from your 90 minutes of principal study.)

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 Brecker, Bill Evans, Jacqui Dankworth, Peter Erskine, Paolo Fresu and Arild Andersen. Other masterclasses have featured Courtney Pine, Makoto Ozone, David Liebman and Branford Marsalis. Students have seen these great musicians up close, working with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, in the RCS.

Programme Outline

The MMus/MA in Jazz is structured around your principal study as either an instrumentalist, a composer/arranger, or both.

The MMus is made up of four modules. As well as incorporating your one-to-one lessons, the Principal Study offers a particularly wide range of assessment choices, including solo and group performance, composition/arranging, studio recording, a collaboration with a composer on a new work, and, in second year an independent project.

The Supporting Studies module offers a range of experiences in support of your principal study, including masterclasses, rehearsals and performances within and without the Conservatoire. The programme is completed by the Approaches to Critical Artistry module, in which you carry out a practice-based research project, and up to two Elective modules in each year of study.

The structure of the one-year MA programme is similar, including Principal Study, Supporting Studies, Approaches to Critical Artistry and the option to take one Elective. This programme is completed by the Negotiated Study module, offering the opportunity to pursue an significant period of independent study in an area of your own choosing.

Full details of the structure of both the MMus and MA degrees are in the MMus-MA Guide for Applicants 2015-16, which can be found at http://www.rcs.ac.uk/studyhere/how-to-apply/music/.

Staff and masterclasses

Tommy SmithHead of Jazz

TS_Smith_Photo_by_Michael_Clark-300x248Tommy Smith (b.1967) is a leading light in European jazz, first and foremost as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, and latterly as the founder and current director of The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO). These career-defining achievements are framed by his status as an international recording artist; a composer and arranger of extraordinary ambition; and not least, as a jazz educator.

His prolific career began in earnest when, aged only sixteen, he recorded his first album Giant Strides. He was rewarded with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, an experience that has shaped his affirmative approach to jazz. Since then, he has made twenty-seven solo albums as a leader for Blue Note, Linn and his own label Spartacus Records.

Smith has also earned the regard, support and friendship of the many respected jazz figures with whom he has collaborated and created great jazz. They include, but are not limited to, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny, Barron, Arild Andersen, John Scofield and Trilok Gurtu. His tenure with the SNJO has seen critically acclaimed performances and recordings of programmed and commissioned works including hugely popular treatments of Ellington, Gershwin, Weather Report and Miles Davis.

He also holds three honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt, Glasgow Caledonian & Edinburgh Universities and a Professorship from the RCS. His last group album KARMA won him his seventh Scottish Jazz Award for album of the year. Tommy Smith is also founder/director of The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra [2001] and has been Head of Jazz of the first ever full-time jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 2009. At the RCS he teaches Saxophone, Music Business, Chord Scale Harmony, Jazz Repertoire, Studio Recording, Performance of Jazz History and Notation by Hand.

COLIN_BROOM_BANNER

  • Jazz Coordinator

Our teaching staff includes players of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.

PAUL_HARRISON_BANNER

  • Piano

CHRIS_GREIVE_BANNER

  • Trombone

KEVIN_MACKENZIE_BANNER

  • Guitar

MARIO_CARIBE_BANNER

  • Double Bass/Electric Bass

ALYN_COSKER_BANNER

  • Drums

TOM_MACNIVEN_BANNER

  • Trumpet

PAUL_TOWNDROW_BANNER

  • Saxophone

LOUISE-MOCHAN-BANNER

  • Voice

STEVE_HAMILTON_BANNER

  • Second Study Piano

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JAZZ MASTERCLASSES

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

  • Martin Kershaw
  • Tom Gordon
  • Graeme Stephen

2016

  • Mike Stern

Audition requirements

The audition and interview

Before your audition, you will have 15 minutes (or more dependent on your Principal Study) to warm-up on your instrument. RCS is not able to offer additional practice facilities before the allocated warm-up time because the building is in full use by current students or by other audition candidates.

Through the 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

The interview will assess the candidate’s suitability for the programme in terms of knowledge, experience and commitment.

Accompanists

Instrumentalists (excluding piano, guitar, jazz, Scottish music and percussion and timpani) and vocalists will be automatically allocated an official RCS accompanist to play for them at their audition (unless RCS is notified that the applicant intends to use his/her own). Applicants will be given time with the accompanist prior to their audition in order to run through their programme. RCS does not require advance notice of your audition programme.

 

The MMus Jazz pathway audition is designed to assess an applicant’s improvisational skills. There are two stages to the jazz audition.

Stage 1 – Recorded Audition Assessment

Submit a video of yourself performing the following pieces listed below with a live section or a play-a-long/minus-one backing track. You then may be called back for a live audition conducted by a member of the RCS Jazz faculty in November.

The video audition must be submitted online via Decision Desk. The deadline to submit your video is 2 October 2017.

 

Stage 2 – Live Audition and Interview

Before your live audition, you will have an additional 15 minutes in an allocated room to warm-up. Please note that no drums, guitar/bass amp will be provided in the warm up room.

Audition

Your performance must contain improvisation and you will play with a live trio from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A rhythm section will be available at the audition.

The Jamey Aebersold play-a-long series provides wonderful practice materials and will help you prepare for the audition: www.aebersold.com

Your audition is in three parts:

  • Perform your own original composition with the audition rhythm section. You must bring charts for the musicians, which should be legible and easily sight readable.
  • Perform your choice of an up tempo ‘jazz standard’, in which you should play the melody plus a minimum of 3 improvised choruses, interacting musically with the other musicians. The focus should be on improvisation. You should not play a transcription of a solo.
  • An informal discussion concerning your goals and aspirations. This is an opportunity to ask the panel questions about the Jazz programme, the Scottish jazz scene and conservatoire life

The audition room is equipped with a grand piano, jazz drum kit and guitar plus bass amps.

Checklist

The following checklist will help remind you of items you may need for your audition:

  • All acoustic and electric bass players, brass players, guitarists and saxophone players are required to bring their instruments to the audition.
  • A vocal PA and microphone will be set up in the room for vocalists.
  • Amplifiers for guitarists and bass players will be provided in the audition room but not in the warm up room.
  • Drummers should bring sticks and a practice pad, as the warm up room will not have a drum kit. A standard jazz drum kit (bass drum, floor tom, upper tom, snare) with two cymbals and hi-hat will be provided for drum auditions (double-bass pedals are not provided). Drummers can bring their own cymbals if they wish.

All decisions will be posted on UCAS Conservatoires following your audition via UCAS Conservatoires Track, (you will need your username and password). You will also receive notification from UCAS Conservatoires when decisions on all your choices are available.

How to apply

Before applying we recommend that you follow our Applicant Guide journey which provides all the essential information regarding entry requirements, and the full application and audition process.

Begin your Applicant Journey here.

Making your application

Applications for the MMus/MA programme should be made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. There is a UCAS application fee of £25 (which is in addition to the audition fee) which allows you up to six choices of programme of study.

Why choose us?

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is third in the world for performing arts education.

  • A teaching team featuring the best educators and highly-acclaimed jazz performers
  • Close links to the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and its international guests enabling you to watch professionals at work
  • An opportunity to audition for the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and perform regular concerts in Scotland, as well as recording for Spartacus Records
  • Record and mix your own music in our recording studios with opportunities to release your own album
  • Opportunity to work with BBC Radio Scotland to enable you to broadcast your own compositions on the Jazz House programme each year
  • Fridays at One and Blue Mondays concert and masterclass series featuring guest teachers
  • ‘Jazz at the Chimp’ events feature student-led projects on a monthly basis

Entry requirements

  • Normally a good Honours (at least 2.2) degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme

Entrance to the Conservatoire is based on talent, potential and ability, therefore consideration will be given to relevant experience which is deemed to compensate for any traditional education. We accept a wide range of qualification, including international qualifications. If you wish to check the suitability of your qualification/experience, please contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk.

English Language

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).

Other equivalent English Language qualifications may be considered, please contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk for more information.

  • IELTS – 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component

Audition Requirements

Audition requirements can be found in our Applicant Guide.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for academic year 2017-18

  • MMus Jazz (2 years) UK/EU Students – £8,094
  • MMus Jazz (2 years) International (non-EU) – £15,513
  • MA Jazz (1 year) UK/EU Students – £10,983
  • MA Jazz (1 year) International (non-EU) – £18,648

Scottish/EU students

New Scottish and EU domiciled students may be eligible for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan. All eligible students will be able to apply directly to Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a non-means tested loan of up to £3,400. See the following website for further details of the PSAS scheme:

http://www.saas.gov.uk/full_time/pg/index.htm

Scottish domiciled postgraduate students on eligible courses can also apply for a Postgraduate Living Cost Loan up to £4,500 towards living expenses. This is in addition to the existing loan available towards the cost of their tuition fees.

Scholarships

Any potential student who auditions for a place at the Royal Conservatoire will automatically be considered for a scholarship. They are awarded on a combination of talent, potential and financial need. More information about Scholarships is available here

Sources of external funding

For more information about alternative funding sources, including external scholarships and bursaries, please visit here.

The Conservatoire’s International and Student Experience team are available to advise and assist applicants and current students in respect of queries about funding your studies at the Conservatoire. Please email or telephone +44 (0)141 270 8281/ +44 (0)141 270 8223 for further information.

Facilities

The RCS Jazz Pathway enjoys the use of two completely dedicated jazz ensemble spaces within the main Renfrew street facility. One of these dedicated jazz spaces is a fully equipped recording facility that gives our students a tangible edge in gaining experience in professional recording and production techniques.

Each space is equipped with a Yamaha grand piano, drum set, smart board, listening centre and amplifiers for bassists and guitarists as well as moveable acoustic dampening. The recording studio boasts an extensive array of microphones and effects units necessary for producing high fidelity recordings digitally.

Jazz concerts and recitals are frequently held in the Stephenson Hall, The Ledger Room and the AGOS facility within the RCS. Students have also been known to perform informal concerts in the café bar area from time to time.

Images and videos

 

Blue Mondays