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MMus/MA Piano for Dance

Introduction

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

Utilising the resources and facilities of both institutions, the 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 a regular lesson with tutors from the Keyboard department, reinforcing aspects of piano technique, keyboard harmony and repertoire.

“The MMus 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.”

 

Introduction

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

Utilising the resources and facilities of both institutions, the 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 a regular lesson with tutors from the Keyboard department, reinforcing aspects of piano technique, keyboard harmony and repertoire.

“The MMus 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.”

 

Programme Outline

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.

The Conservatoire programme is made up of four modules.

In Principal Study you will receive weekly 1:1 lessons in piano through the Department of Keyboard and Collaborative Piano. In Supporting Studies you will have the opportunity to be involved with a range of options offered by the Conservatoire, including piano technique, improvisation, keyboard literature, accompaniment skills, Alexander technique and sight-reading, as well as taking place in performance classes and masterclasses as appropriate.

The programme is completed by the Approaches to Critical Artistry module, in which you will complete a practice-based research project, and up to two Elective modules in each year of study.

 

Staff and masterclasses

Alan Costello
Programme Co-ordinator

 

Richard Honner
Principal Conductor

Richard worked for two years at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, before joining The Australian Opera in 1972. In 1977 he joined Scottish Opera where he remained for nine years as a répétiteur and staff conductor. He first worked with Scottish Ballet as a guest for the Winter and Spring seasons of 1986, joining the Company in August of that year. From 1990 to 1992, he conducted opera productions for the RSAMD. He has also worked with the Hong Kong Ballet (1989 -1999), the San Francisco Ballet, Opera Hawkes Bay in New Zealand, English National Opera and Frankfurt Opera and was official accompanist at the Sofia International Singing Competition in 1979. In 2006 and 2008 Richard conducted concerts with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong.

 

Karen MacIver
Lecturer in Improvisation and Class Repertoire

Karen has worked with most of the UK ballet companies as well as American Ballet Theatre, Mark Morris’ company, Hong Kong Ballet and Staatstheater Nuernberg. Her work with Scottish Ballet has spanned over 20 years and for the past 8 years she has been mentoring students on the Pianist for Dance course run by Scottish Ballet and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She is also a distinguished composer of film and theatre music.

 

Brian Prentice
Company Pianist

Brian’s work with Scottish Ballet spans 20 years and as Company Pianist for the last 10 years where he has been mentoring students on the Pianist for Dance course. He has been solo pianist in ‘Twilight’, Hindemith’s ‘The Four Temperaments’, ‘In Light and Shadow’ at the Edinburgh International Festival and as a musician with the Scottish Ballet Orchestra and the Education Unit. Most recently he was Musical Director of “Elite Syncopations’. He has also worked with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the RSAMD in Glasgow and the RSNO. Brian is a member of The Assembly Players and is musical director for the Scottish singer and actress, Terry Neason.

 

Signy Jakobsdottir
Lecturer in Contemporary Improvisation

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 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.

Entrance requirements

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

  • the potential ability 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.

Audition

The audition comprises of the following:

  • Performance of one short piano work (no longer than five minutes) of the applicant’s own choice
  • Sight-reading from a piano score
  • Performance of prepared ballet excerpts)which is emailed to the applicant along with the audition date and time)
  • Basic improvisation which takes the form of simple classroom warm up exercises set by a member of the ballet staff to be accompanied by the applicant

Auditions normally take place at Scottish Ballet and are conducted by appropriate members of staff from RCS and Scottish Ballet.

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 in the World Top 5 for performing arts education

  • Competitive scholarships
  • 90-minute individual lesson each week with your tutor.
  • Variety of practical opportunities, including regular Scottish Ballet Company Rehearsals, BA Modern Ballet Classes, Syllabus and Rep Classes and
  • Use of the state of the art facilities at both Scottish Ballet’s Headquarters and at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Students will also have access to staff at both institutions to help in their training.
  • Opportunities to observe professional companies and vocational level training institutions, both nationally and internationally.
  • 100% of postgraduate respondents from the School of Music are in employment or further study (HESA, 15/16)

 

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

Find out about the audition process on our Guide for Applicants.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for academic year 2018-19

  • MMus Piano for Dance (2 years) UK/EU Students – £8,313
  • MMus Piano for Dance (2 years) International (non-EU) – £16,290
  • MA Piano for Dance (1 year) UK/EU Students – £11,280
  • MA Piano for Dance (1 year) International (Non EU) – £19,581

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 SAAS website for further details of the PSAS scheme.

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.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates have gone on to work extensively within the dance world, including at Scottish Ballet, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Mathew Bourne’s New Adventures, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Canadian National Ballet, Queensland Ballet, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Royal Ballet School, Canadian National Ballet School, Dance School of Scotland, Royal Academy of Dance, Ballet West.

Scholarships are available.

 

Facilities

Scottish Ballet have in their headquarters at Tramway excellent facilities as befits a professional dance company of international standing. For the student, in addition to playing for rehearsals and classes in light and modern studios, practice facilities are available and the Company possesses an extensive music library which allows for personal study of the wider ballet repertoire beyond the Company’s current repertoire.

The Conservatoire’s keyboard facilities are among the best in the sector. All keyboard students have daily access to an excellent fleet of grand pianos for practice, including new Bechstein 190 grands and Yamaha C3 grands. All teaching rooms have Steinway model B or model A grands.