An Overview


The very complex nature of the modern Timpani and Percussion environment demands an extensive and well-balanced curriculum so that students may experience and study as much related material as possible as well as to formulate a focused approach towards appropriate progress during the 1 or 2 year course.

The RCS is fortunate to have many of the very finest professional performers and very experienced educators to deliver this curriculum whilst inviting a number of professional visiting artists to insure an open-minded approach with regard to technique, style in performance and presentation.

The listed curriculum represents knowledge and skills that the future professional player needs to acquire hence its complexity. The Post Graduate Course will engage with the study of this Curriculum in considerable depth of advanced musical understanding and artistic integrity. At the outset of each postgraduate student’s course, varying requirements may be identified. These will be taken into consideration as much as possible in order that the course may be tailored accordingly whilst not compromising its purpose and integrity

It is the RCS’s aim to provide the fullest possible exposure to all Timpani/Percussion and related study components without compromising standards in order to equip students with the skills for a varied and rewarding career as well as the skills for further development

An end of year exam is designed to perform a comprehensive test of the student’s ability on all aspects of postgraduate studies undertaken and will be conducted in as professional audition like a manner as possible.

This practice intends to familiarise students with professional audition procedure. Pieces to be auditioned will be made known to the student 4 weeks prior to the exam.


Whilst having full regard to the declared aims of the programme, both in the departmental Handbook and the MMus Program Handbook, on rare occasions a student may express the wish to desire specialisation in either Timpani or Percussion only. This will require the agreement of both principal study tutors and the endorsement of the Head of Department before the request for such a course amendment can be forwarded to the Head of Postgraduate Programmes for consideration. If approved, the credit ratings and one-to-one lesson allocation previously attached to the discipline to be voided will then be added to the specialisation discipline(s) in direct consultation with the tutors concerned leaving the overall Principal Study Credits as before. The student should also be aware that his/her “Final Recitaland Exam will need to reflect such specialisation.

When specialising in Percussion only, a student may also choose to enhance Drum Set within the (Percussion only) discipline. The credits made available from the Timpani part of the principal study course element will then be proportionally distributed to reflect this as well as the contact time.

Institution Code:


Programme Code:

MMUS: 890F / MA: 801F

UK Deadline:

2 October 2023

International Deadline:

1 December 2023

Programme Structure

This vocational programme attracts only the most dedicated and motivated students. Taught by a faculty of specialists, educationalists, and Principal players from professional orchestras, it offers training in the multiple disciplines of modern Timpani and Percussion.

Postgraduate students on the MMus Course may also choose available specialisms. These are:

  • Timpani to the exclusion of Percussion
  • Percussion to the exclusion of Timpani

Entrance Audition requirements will only be in the chosen Specialism. MMus students study the full MMus programme in all other respects.

The one-to-one lessons per week are given by highly reputable professional performers and are enhanced by repertoire classes, and specialized individual and class tuition in Latin American, Ethnic Percussion, and Drum-Set. International artists also come to the Conservatoire to give clinics, workshops, and masterclasses.

We also welcome our distinguished International Fellows several times a year to work with students. Recently Chris Lamb, International Fellow in Timpani and Percussion, gave a series of masterclasses via a live link from the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Now this state of the art equipment is in place we’re looking to develop similar opportunities in future years. We also work twice a year with Eric Sammut, International Fellow for Marimba, who also has charge of our annual departmental concert in April. Involving every student on the programme, he devises the repertoire, takes rehearsals, and often plays alongside the students in performance.

At the Conservatoire our ensembles provide performance experience in Symphonic, Chamber, Opera, Wind Orchestra, Brass, and Big Band repertoire and often percussion students are approached by other students to play in their final year recitals. There are also opportunities to collaborate with other programmes and recent examples include Musical Theatre and contemporary music projects. Percussion students are the most enthusiastic self-generated collaborators and there are endless possibilities for collaboration with other students.

Based in Glasgow, you’ll benefit from studying in a major city of culture with a pool of orchestral opportunities. The Conservatoire runs a professional concerts agency which offers numerous opportunities for paid work across Scotland. We also operate a number of side-by-side schemes with professional orchestras where you can experience the realities of the working world. You’ll be given feedback as to how you were perceived by other players, often resulting in further paid work. We’re delighted that five of our former graduates have been appointed to professional positions at home and abroad.

Thanks to the very generous support of the Yamaha Company, an annual Yamaha-Percussion-Scholarship of £3,000 will be awarded to one of the Department’s qualifying students. We also wish to recognize the support of the Avidas Zildjian Company with thanks.

MMus Stage 1 / MA Stage 1

Principal Study 1 – 80 credits

  • Individual lessons
  • Repertoire examination plus 1-2 performance assessments

Supporting Studies 1 – 30/20/10 credits

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as performance classes, ensembles, rehearsals and masterclasses

Practice Research – 10 credits

  • Research project

Options – 0/10/20 credits

  • Range of optional classes drawn from School of Music and School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film

MA Stage 2

Negotiated Study – 60 credits

  • Individual composition, performance or academic project

MMus Stage 2

Principal Study 2 – 90 credits

  • Individual lessons
  • Repertoire examination plus 1-2 performance assessments

Supporting Studies 2 – 30/20/10 credits

  • Negotiated departmental activities, such as performance classes, ensembles, rehearsals and masterclasses

Options – 0/10/20 credits

  • Range of optional classes drawn from School of Music and School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film

The MMus is the standard two-year programme undertaken by most students.

The MA is a shortened version of the programme for students who wish to get a Masters degree in a single year of study.

The first three terms of the MMus and MA are identical: MA students complete a further module in term 4 in order to complete the degree in a single year. There is no difference in the nature of the degrees: both concentrate mainly on performance rather than academic work.

Staff by Instrument

  • Kurt-Hans Goedicke – Distinguished Fellow in Timpani and Percussion and Head of Department, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Phil Philbert – Principal Timpanist, RSNO

By Request:

  • Gordon Rigby —Principal Timpanist, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Ruari Donaldson — Principal Timpanist, Scottish Opera
  • Tom Hunter — former Ass. Timpanist/Percussionist, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Norway
  • Alasdair Kelly — freelance, formerly of the Opera of Bologna, Italy
  • Simon Lowden ARAM — Principal Percussion, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Special Consultants
Associate to Timpani and Percussion
  • David Kerr


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 Kroumata : Internationally celebrated Marimbist and Clinician
  • Dame Evelyn Glennie : International Percussion Soloist
  • David Searcy : Principal Timpanist La Scala Milan and International Clinician
  • Simon Carrington : Principal Timpanist The London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Keith Aleo & Neil Grover : Avidas Zildjian Company
  • Neil Percy : Principal Percussion London Symphony Orchestra
  • Louise Goodwin: Timpanist Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Timpani and Percussion performance work

Our Timpani and Percussion students in an edited selection of performance work.

Graduate Destinations


In preparation for your professional career, our Timpani and Percussion department provides excellent facilities for study, practice, and performance. These include three large dedicated studios with a full and plentiful range of the highest quality instruments. You’ll have one-to-one lessons per week with renowned professional performers, enhanced by repertoire classes, as well as specialized individual and class tuition in Latin American, Ethnic Percussion, and Drum Set provided by six visits per academic year for two days each. Although tuition is directed towards orchestral repertoire, we’ve developed well-established traditions of solo performance and also offer a Solo-Marimba provision.

We welcome artists from around the world to give clinics, workshops, and masterclasses, and recent visitors have included Dame Evelyn Glennie, Colin Currie, Sam Walton, Birger Sulsbrück, Leigh Howard Stevens, Eric Sammut, Simon Carrington, Keith Aleo and Neil Grover, and Neil Percy amongst many others.

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

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

Why Choose Us?

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is consistently ranked in the World Top 10 for performing arts education (QS World Rankings 2023) 

  • Small class sizes: we only take a maximum of 12 students to ensure the highest possible teaching contact and practice time
  • Three large dedicated percussion studios with a full range of the highest quality instruments
  • Unrivalled links with the world’s leading performers in timpani and percussion
  • Performing opportunities alongside guest artists and masterclass clinicians
  • Cross-discipline collaboration opportunities with students from across RCS

As well as working with your fellow student musicians, you’ll have opportunities to collaborate across the disciplines. You may be part of a band for Musical Theatre performances, providing music for film, or joining forces with composers to create new works — the opportunities are unlimited.

You’ll gain lots of performance experience in a number of learning and professional contexts. You’ll work with our ensembles in symphonic, chamber, opera, wind orchestra, brass, and Big Band repertoire in the Conservatoire and external venues. We operate a number of side-by-side schemes with Scotland’s leading orchestras, where you can experience the realities of the working world in a supportive environment. You’ll benefit from the guidance and mentoring of professional musicians, performing in some of Scotland’s major concert halls and venues.

Virtual Tour

Explore the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in our 360 virtual tour. You’ll be able to see our rehearsal and practice rooms, professional performance venues, production workshops, editing suite, ballet studios and more.

Entry Requirements

Our Admissions Process

Our admissions processes are designed to be fair, transparent and efficient. The audition/interview approach serves the dual nature of allowing the panel to assess first-hand an applicant’s suitability for their chosen programme and it also affords the applicant the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the nature of that programme and the opportunities offered by the RCS.

In arriving at its recommendation, the audition/interview panel will take account of all aspects of the applicant’s profile i.e.:

  • Performance at audition/interview
  • Commitment to the particular programme
  • Potential to benefit from the programme
  • Academic qualifications
  • Personal statement
  • Performance qualifications
  • Performance/practical experience
  • References
  • Contextualised data
General Academic Entrance Requirements

Candidates for both the MMus and MA are normally expected to hold a good honours (at least 2:2) degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme.

Language of Study

The language of study is English. Applicants who first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Level 6.0 (with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component) is required of applicants to the School of Music.

Direct Entry

Applications for direct entry beyond Year 1 will be considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the Royal Conservatoire’s Recognition of Prior (Experiential) Learning policy. If you wish to apply for direct entry, please mark the point of entry on UCAS Conservatoires application as 2 or 3.

Non-Standard Entry

We welcome applications from individuals whose academic qualifications or English language qualifications do not match (in terms of equivalence) or fall short of the normal entrance requirements, where specified*. Having satisfied the Audition Panel that they meet the selection criteria and demonstrated that they have the capacity to pursue the proposed course of study, such applicants will be considered through examination of contextualised data provided in accordance with the Non-Standard Entry Policy. The appropriate Head of Department/ Programme will make a case in support of the applicant for consideration by the Directors of the Schools and Convener of the Quality and Standards Committee.

*Note that UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) imposes minimum English Language qualifications in respect of international (non-EU) applicants who require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK.

Mature Students

RCS welcomes applications from mature students, i.e. students over the age of 21 at entry to the programme. Whilst the selection procedures will still be applied, consideration will be given to appropriate artistic experience not normally expected in school leavers, which is deemed to compensate for any lack of traditional entrance qualifications. Successful mature applicants, as for all other applicants, must convince auditioning panels that they have the ability and potential to cope with the demands of the programme. Their progress, especially in the early stages of the programme, will be closely monitored and appropriate advice and support given.

How to Apply

Apply via UCAS Conservatoires

Applications are made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system.

There is a UCAS application fee of £27.50 to register to use UCAS Conservatoires.

To begin a new UCAS Conservatoires application, you will need to register. You can read the UCAS Conservatoires’ advice on completing the UCAS Conservatoires application. If you need assistance with your application, you can contact UCAS Conservatoires team by telephoning (Monday to Friday, 8.30 — 18.00). Phone 0371 468 0470 from within the UK or +44 330 3330 232 if you are calling from overseas.

Application deadline date

The deadline dates to apply and submit your audition recording can be found in the table below –

UCAS Conservatoires Application Deadline  Audition Recording Deadline
UK Applicants 2 October 2023 2 October 2023 (for applicants unable to attend an in-person audition)
International Applicants 1 December 2023 1 December 2023

International student applicants

We are aware that international students may struggle with the UCAS deadline. As a consequence, we have set an additional deadline of 1 December 2023 for international students.

If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that your application/audition recording will be reviewed by the audition panel. If you do want to submit a late application, you must contact in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications. Late applications will be considered on a case by case basis and may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation.

We do not offer deferred entry. If you wish to commence in 2025, you must apply next year.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland institution code is R58.

MMus Performance (2 years) – 890F

MA Performance (1 year) – 801F

Book an advice lesson with one of our Music tutors

An advice lesson gives you the chance to experience having a lesson at the Conservatoire and provides a great opportunity for you to gain some expert advice and insight. Advice lessons normally take place from late August to early October and are dependent on staff availability. Book your advice lesson here or e-mail our team for further information at

Application Fee

There is a UCAS Conservatoires application fee of £27.50. In addition to the application fee, each conservatoire charges an audition assessment administration fee. For RCS, the audition assessment administration fee is £65 per programme applied for. Fees are not refundable. The fees are paid via the UCAS Conservatoires website and not directly to RCS.

Audition Assessment Administration fee

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland charges an audition assessment administration fee of £65 per course.

We recognise that auditioning and interviewing for conservatoires, drama and ballet schools can be costly. The audition assessment administration fee charge allows us to offer a thorough and positive experience to all applicants and we encourage you to get in touch to ask the panel questions and find out more about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to see if it is the best place for you.


It is your responsibility to ask two separate referees to write references and ensure that these are sent to RCS.

The references must be written by two different people and we will not accept references from family, other relatives or close friends. You can submit your UCAS Conservatoires application form and send your references at a later date, but they must be received prior to your audition date.

UCAS Conservatoires provides reference forms for you to download and send to your referees for completion.

Selection Process

Applicants are selected first and foremost on the basis of merit and potential. However, due attention is also paid to the range of Principal Studies accepted in order to ensure the optimum experience for each student and to sustain the critical mass required for curricular activities, such as the symphony orchestra and choral activities.

Please note that the Conservatoire is obliged to offer one audition date per application. If you are unable to submit your application/audition recording by the deadline date above, you must email us immediately stating the reason. We have a specific period allocation to audition and all on time applications will receive a decision before Christmas. If your audition recording is delayed, there is a risk that places will already have been taken and your application may not be considered in the first round of scholarship allocation.


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. For those submitting a recording, the deadline dates to apply and submit your audition recording can be found in the table below:

UCAS Conservatoires Application Deadline  Audition Recording Deadline
UK Applicants 2 October 2023 2 October 2023 (for applicants unable to attend an in-person audition)
International Applicants 1 December 2023 1 December 2023

International student applicants

We are aware that international students may struggle with the UCAS deadline. As a consequence, we have set an additional deadline of 1 December 2023 for international students.

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 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 below:

All decisions will be posted on UCAS Conservatoires following your audition or recorded submission via UCAS Conservatoires track (you will need your username and password). We aim to post outcomes before Christmas.

Audition/recording expectations are a competent performance of the set pieces displaying tonal, musical and stylistic awareness. Details of the repertoire requested for your in-person audition/recorded submission can be found below:


  • Bartók Concerto for Orchestra, the Intermezzo (available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Bartok Violin Concerto Nr.2, slow movement from upbeat to figure 12 to 3rd bar of figure 16
  • Strauss Der Rosenkavalier (‘Big Waltz’) (Available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Hindemith Sinfonische Metamorphosen (‘Turandot Scherzo’) (Available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)


  • Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky (Available in the Goldenberg Book)
  • Gershwin Porgy and Bess (Available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Hindemith Kammermusik, ‘Movements 1 and 4’ (Available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)


  • Bernstein ‘Cool’, West Side Story (Available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)

Snare Drum

  • Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, ‘Movements 3 and 4’ (Available in Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions, Schott)
  • Ravel Rhapsodie Espagnol ‘Movements 3 and 4’ (available in Hathaway Snare Drum Book)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol (available in the Goldenberg Book)
  • Suppé Pique Dame (available in the Goldenberg Book)
Following your Audition

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.

Please see below for an explanation of UCAS Conservatoires codes:

Guaranteed Unconditional (GU) RCS is satisfied from the information you have given, that you have already met the conditions for entry. Unless your application and/or qualification are subsequently shown to be fraudulent, a guaranteed unconditional offer is binding.

Guaranteed Conditional (GC) RCS has made the offer subject to you meeting certain conditions such as examination results. Conditions can be viewed via UCAS Conservatoires Track. Unless your application and/or qualifications are subsequently shown to be fraudulent, the offer is binding if you accept the offer and meet the conditions. You must meet the conditions of the offer by 31 August 2024, unless an earlier date is specified. If your conditions include obtaining IELTS (English Language test), you must meet this condition by 31 May 2024.

Reserve Unconditional (VU) RCS is satisfied from the information you have given, that you have already met the conditions for entry and you have been offered a place on our reserve pool.

Reserve Conditional (VC) RCS has offered a place on its reserve pool subject to you meeting certain conditions such as examination results. Conditions can be viewed via UCAS Conservatoires Track.

Unsuccessful (R) RCS does not wish to offer you any type of a place.

Reserve Outcomes

If you have received a ‘reserve’ outcome, it means that RCS is not able to offer you a guaranteed place at the time of making our decision. A ‘reserve’ outcome indicates that RCS would like the opportunity to review its outcome to you in the light of acceptances/declines to its guaranteed offers. You will become part of a ‘pool’ of ‘reserve’ candidates and RCS may choose to make you a guaranteed offer if a suitable place becomes available.  Reserve does not mean that a place has been ‘reserved’ for you. If RCS chooses not to make you a guaranteed offer, you will not have a place to start at RCS.

If you have been given a ‘reserve’ outcome, in order to be considered for a guaranteed place (should one become available) you will need to accept the outcome (and meet any conditions if applicable).

Reserve outcomes remain active until the end of August.  The decision to wait and see whether a guaranteed place becomes available, or to accept an offer at another conservatoire is entirely at your discretion. As soon as your situation changes, this is updated on UCAS Conservatoires.

Replying to Offers

As soon as a decision is made, UCAS Conservatoires will let you know. You must reply online via UCAS Conservatoires Track. Your reply date is displayed on Track. If you do not reply by the date given, your offers will be declined automatically. The reply date may be different to other applicants as it is based on when you receive your last decision.

Last decision by Your reply date is
3 January 2024 1 February 2024
15 March 2024 10 April 2024
15 May 2024 5 June 2024
10 July 2024 24 July 2024
1 August 2024 10 September 2024

Please see the UCAS Conservatoires website for more information on replying to offers. If you make an application through UCAS Conservatoires, UCAS or UCAS Teacher Training, you cannot hold more than one confirmed place. A confirmed place in UCAS Conservatoires is a guaranteed unconditional offer as your first choice (GU1) and in UCAS and UCAS Teacher Training it is an unconditional firm (UF) place. If you receive more than one confirmed place, UCAS will ask you to accept one offer and withdraw from any others.


We have a number of policies and statements which you should read when applying to study at the Royal Conservatoire.

Please select the links below to read each policy.

Fees and Scholarships

Scottish Students

New Scottish 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. 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 to contribute towards living expenses. This is in addition to the existing loan available towards the cost of their tuition fees.

Rest of UK Students


Postgraduate students from England can benefit from a postgraduate loan to be used towards tuition fees and/or living costs.

Northern Irish

Students from Northern Ireland may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan to help with the cost of their course fees. Please see the Student Finance NI