The Woodwind department has an international reputation for developing leading musicians. Our team of dedicated staff includes many of Britain’s finest woodwind players, with world-class reputations as soloists, orchestral, and chamber musicians. The department delivers an intensive and dynamic training programme and provides a supportive and collaborative environment to talented musicians from all over the world. Through our extensive one-to-one specialist care and invaluable performance exposure, the department ensures a challenging and inspiring environment to promote excellence.

Tuition is enhanced by regular visits from distinguished guest artists from across the globe. Students benefit from creative collaborations with those artists in addition to the masterclass programme.

All Woodwind students benefit from the enormous range of performance opportunities. Symphony, chamber and wind orchestra performances, opera productions, wind ensembles and chamber experience are also central to the training of each student. We encourage you to form your own ensembles and offer professional coaching to support your work. RCS staff members and visiting artists perform in chamber ensembles with our students throughout their training.

The department’s elite ensemble, Stevenson Winds, provides students with intensive coaching from professional players and offers extensive performing experience alongside those professionals in prestigious events across the country.

Students are given the best possible start to their performing careers through participation in public performances, TV broadcasts, and worldwide tours with Scotland’s major orchestras and ensembles. We currently run schemes with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestra of Scottish Opera and Red Note Ensemble.

Annual professional concerto performances with both the BBC SSO and the RSNO are available to students. Further concerto opportunities with the RCS Symphony and Wind Orchestras are available and offer performing experience throughout the country in prestigious venues.

A professional accompanist is provided for students throughout their training. Frequent rehearsal sessions with Scott Mitchell are available in preparation for performance classes, competitions and examinations.

Head of Woodwind, Heather Nicoll DRSAMD MA

Institution Code:


Programme Code:

MMUS: 890F / MA: 801F

UK Deadline:

2 October 2023

International Deadline:

1 December 2023

Programme Structure

The MMus programme is designed to refine your Principal Study skills to meet the demanding artistic and technical expectations of the contemporary professional world.

The RCS values its MMus students as autonomous and creative learners and the programme has specialist Principal Study pathways allowing each student to tailor their training to support their own professional ambitions.

Principal Study Pathways

  • Solo Performance – assessed in a public recital.
  • Orchestral Performance – assessment comprises an orchestral audition and live orchestral performances.
  • Chamber Performance – assessed in a public recital.
  • Concerto – assessed in a concerto performance. Enviable concerto opportunities are available with the BBC SSO, RSNO and RCS Symphony Orchestra (selection by audition).
  • Studio Recording – assessed in a studio recording comprising repertoire appropriate to the specialisms of the student and a viva examination discussing the values of the recording process and repertoire decisions.
  • New Work – assessed in a performance or studio recording of a new work and viva examination on the collaborative process with the composer.*
  • Lecture Recital assessed in a lecture-recital on a relevant specialist subject.
  • Independent Project assessed through a practice-based project designed around a particular area of a student’s specialism.

* Students with a passion and aptitude for contemporary performance may wish to work intensively with a student from our composition department to create a new composition for their instrument. Our prestigious contemporary festival ‘PLUG’ offers a public platform to showcase new works.

Supporting Studies comprises the core 1-2-1 lessons, performance and technique classes, reed-making (if relevant), chamber music collaborations, orchestral and operatic productions, ensemble work and masterclasses. MMus students are eligible for all competitions and apprenticeship schemes.

MMus and MA

MMus Stage 1 / MA Stage 1

Principal Study 1 – 80 credits

  • Individual instrumental lessons
  • 2-3 negotiated 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 instrumental lessons
  • 2-3 negotiated 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.

Woodwind Staff


Katherine Bryan – Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Ruth Morley – Red Note Ensemble

Helen Brew – Associate Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra


Janet Richardson – BA Hons, Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Luke Russell – BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra


Amy Turner – Principal, Orchestra of Scottish Opera

Peter Dykes – Associate Principal Oboe, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Cor anglais

Henry Clay — Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra


John Cushing – Former Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Yann Ghiro – Principal BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Lawrence Gill – Orchestra of Scottish Opera

Timothy Orpen – Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Nicolas Baldeyrou – Buffet-Crampon Visiting Professor in Clarinet


E Flat Clarinet
Josef Pacewicz LRAM, ARAM, Former Associate Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra


Bass Clarinet
Heather Nicoll DRSAMD MA


David Hubbard – Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Graeme Brown – Principal Bassoon No. 2, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Contra Bassoon

Peter Wesley – Principal, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Paolo Dutto – Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Woodwind Lecturer

Jennifer Stephenson

Why Choose Us?

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

  • Diverse and unique performances within RCS and externally with Scotland’s major orchestras and ensembles. Opportunities include radio broadcasts, orchestral tours, educational projects and collaborative performances.
  • One-to-one lessons on your principal study each week.
  • A rich programme of masterclasses, chamber coaching and side-by-side performances offer our students a fantastic collaborative and tailored experience with each guest musician.
  • Performance opportunities alongside professional musicians in our Mondays and Fridays at 1 concert series.
  • A professional accompanist is provided for students throughout their training. Weekly rehearsal sessions with Scott Mitchell are available in preparation for performance classes, competitions and examinations.
  • Work with elite wind ensemble, Stevenson Winds, and receive intensive coaching with its expert players
  • National and international performing opportunities; students previously toured India with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and annually perform side-by-side with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Winds in a series of live concerts.
  • Facilities include the David Nicholson Room, a dedicated space for flautists to rehearse and practice, and a double reed room, filled with reed-making equipment for this specialist art.
  • 97% of undergraduate respondents from the School of Music are in employment or further study (HESA, 15/16).

Learn from the best

Masterclasses and visiting artists

Visiting international artists work regularly with our students.

A rich programme of public masterclasses, chamber coaching, lecture recitals and side-by-side performances and professional recordings offer our students a fantastic collaborative and tailored experience with each guest musician.

Recent Visiting Artists include:


  • Ian Clarke – Internationally acclaimed flautist and composer
  • Michael Cox – Principal, BBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Lorna McGee – Principal, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Emily Beynon – Principal, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • André Cebrián – Principal, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Fiona Fulton – former flautist with The Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Gitte Marcusson – freelance flautist and Musical Director at Vanersborg School of Music (masterclass)
  • Cormac Henry – Principal, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Charlotte Ashton – Principal Flute, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Michel Moragues – Second flute soloist with the Orchestre National de France (masterclass)
  • Elzbieta Wolenska – Distinguished Pedagogue (masterclass)
  • Catherine Gregory – Decoda Ensemble (masterclass)
  • Adam Walker – Principal, London Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)


  • Ewan Robertson – Orchestra of Scottish Opera (orchestral performance masterclass)
  • Luke Russell – Principal Piccolo, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Jenny Hutchinson – Principal Piccolo, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)


  • Diana Doherty – Principal, Sydney Symphony Orchestra
  • Emmanuel Laville – Principal, Swedish Symphony Orchestra
  • Michael Niesemann – Principal – Orchester Revolutionnaire et Romantique
  • John Roberts -Principal, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and RCS Visiting Artist in Orchestral Performance (masterclass)
  • Dudu Carmel – Principal Oboe, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass) Olivier Stankiewicz – Principal, London Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Steven Hudson – Section Leader, BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Crowthers Sponsored Artist – performing in our Double-reed concert and leading a masterclass).
  • François Leleux – International Artist (masterclass)
  • Nicholas Daniel – International Artist and Principal, Britten Sinfonia (masterclass)
  • Alison Teale – Co-Principal Oboe, BBC Symphony Orchestra

Oboe & Cor Anglais:

  • Alan Garner – Principal Cor Anglais, The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (masterclass)
  • Alexandre Oguey – Principal Cor Anglais, Sydney Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)


  • Nicolas Baldeyrou – International Artist and Principal, Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Anthony McGill – Principal, New York Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Timothy Orpen – Principal Clarinet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Founding member and Principal Clarinet of the Aurora Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Fraser Langton – Sub-principal, BBC Philharmonic and RCS Graduate
  • Oliver Janes – Principal, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Annelien Van Wauwe – International Artist (masterclass)
  • John Bradbury – Principal, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Maximiliano Martín – Principal, Scottish Chamber Orchestra (masterclass)

Bass Clarinet:

  • Sarah Watts – Contemporary bass clarinet specialist (masterclass)


  • Ole Kristian Dahl – Principal, Swedish National Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Vahan Khourdoian – Principal, Ulster Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Fraser Gordon – Principal Contra Bassoon, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Julie Price – Principal, BBC Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Joost Bosdijk, London Symphony Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Amy Harman – Principal, English National Opera and Aurora Orchestra (masterclass)
  • Pascal Gallois – International artist (contemporary masterclass)
  • Graeme Brown – Bassoon Principal No.2, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Crowthers Sponsored Artist – performing in our Double-reed concert and leading a masterclass).


  • Arno Bornkamp – International renowned solo & chamber performer and RCS Associate Artist (masterclasses/chamber coaching and Director of the Saxophone Department Concert)
  • Kyle Horch – Professor of saxophone, Royal College of Music, London (masterclass)
  • Timothy McAllister – International Artist and Professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (masterclass)
Competition and prize winners

The students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Woodwind Department regularly demonstrate their calibre by winning prestigious competitions and awards, both within the conservatoire and on the global stage.


  • Concerto Competition – Matilda Coulton (Flute)
  • Governors Recital Prize for Woodwind – Matilda Coulton (Flute – Winner), Jack Halforty (Saxophone -Highly Commended), Aaron Hartnell-Booth (Saxophone – Commended)
  • Governors Recital Prize for Chamber Music – Dean Garrity, Emilija Auskalnyte, Ivan Varchenko, Jack Halforty (Saxophone Quartet)


  • Classical Concerto Prize – Adam Lee (Clarinet)
  • Concerto Competition – Adam Lee (Clarinet)
  • Governors Recital Prize for Woodwind – Andrew Dardis (Flute – Winner), Emma Simpson (Flute – Highly Commended)
  • RCS Bassoon Prize – Emma Simpson


  • Governors Recital Prize for Woodwind – Adam Lee (Clarinet -Winner), Helen Matthews (Oboe – Highly Commended)
  • Governors Recital Prize for Chamber Music Winners – Katie Kim & Brian King (Flute and Guitar Duo)
  • RCS Bassoon Prize – Gregory Crowley

School of Music Prizes (donor funded prizes awarded at the end of each year)


  • Mary D Adams Prizes for Chamber Music – Dean Garrity, Emilija Auskalnyte, Ivan Varchenko, Jack Halforty (Saxophone Quartet)
  • John MacGregor Flute Prize – Matilda Coulton
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Performance Prize for Woodwind – Aaron Hartnell Booth (Clarinet)


  • Principals Prizes for All Round Excellence (School of Music) – Adam Lee (Clarinet)
  • David Nicholson Flute Award for Travel and Study – Karin Eriksson
  • John MacGregor Flute Prize – Andrew Dardis


  • Principals Prize for All Round Excellence – Christopher Michie (Flute)
  • John MacGregor Flute Prize – Katie Kim

Visiting Professor

Nicolas Baldeyrou

In celebration of our close links with Buffet-Crampon, the RCS Woodwind Department was thrilled to announce that Nicolas Baldeyrou would be our first Buffet-Crampon Visiting Professor in Clarinet.

Commencing from October 2019, Nicolas has been visiting the RCS to work with the Woodwind students in a series of masterclasses, side-by-side performances and collaborative events.

Graduate Destinations

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Woodwind alumni occupy positions in numerous prestigious orchestras and ensembles worldwide. 
  • Jo Ashcroft & Victoria Lopez Senior Musician & Woodwind Tutor respectively, Big Noise, Sistema Scotland
  • Graeme Brown BBC Scottish Symphony – Orchestra Principal Bassoon No.2 & RCS Tutor
  • Jay Capperauld Composer & Saxophonist
  • Richard Craig Contemporary Artist & Researcher
  • Peter Dykes Royal Scottish National Orchestra – Associate Principal Oboe & RCS Tutor
  • Lindsey Ellis BBC National Orchestra of Wales – Principal Piccolo
  • Robert Fairley Orchestra of Scottish Ballet – Principal Clarinet
  • Konrad Fiszer Opera Nova w Bydgoszczy – Flute and Piccolo
  • Fraser Gordon Head of Woodwind, Royal Academy of Music
  • Jennifer Hutchinson BBC Philharmonic Orchestra – Principal Piccolo
  • Stewart MacIlwham Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Principal Piccolo
  • Catriona McKinnon Welsh National Opera – Principal Oboe
  • Kate McDermott Orchestra of Scottish Opera – Principal Clarinet
  • John McDougall BBC Concert Orchestra – Principal Bassoon
  • Lorna McGhee Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – Principal Flute & International soloist
  • Chris McShane Orchestra Accademia China – Bassoon
  • Sinziana Mugea National Radio Orchestra of Romania – Sub Principal Oboe and Cor Anglais
  • Heather Nicoll Head of Woodwind, RCS
  • Paul Rissmann Animateur & Composer
  • John Roberts Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Principal Oboe & RCS Visiting Artist
  • Ewan Robertson Covent Garden Opera – Former Piccolo, BBC SSO, Orchestra of Scottish Opera
  • Lorraine Robertson L’ensemble Orchestral du Loir et Cher – Principal Flute
  • Yvonne Robertson Freelancer, RCS Tutor, Woodwind Lecturer (Maternity cover)
  • Matthew Rogers Conductor & Composer
  • Jennifer Stephenson Freelance Musician & Woodwind Lecturer, RCS
  • Kathleen Stevenson BBC Symphony Orchestra – Principal Piccolo
  • Russell Tyler Orquestra do Norte, Portugal – Principal Oboe
  • Thomas Voelcker Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra – Former Principal Piccolo

RCS Presents: Woodwind

Watch one of the first live concerts performed under Covid restrictions in the RCS Presents series, performed in November 2020.

Chamber Music

Chamber music is embedded in the training of RCS Woodwind students, providing a supportive and creative environment for young groups to hone their skills.

Chamber performance experiences include:

  • Performance opportunities alongside professional musicians in both our Mondays and Fridays @ One concert series.
  • Our prestigious ensemble Stevenson Winds affords high profile performance opportunities both within and out with the RCS.
  • The unique opportunity to rehearse and perform side-by-side with  members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Winds.
  • Contemporary ensemble opportunities to perform in  RCS MusicLab and Plug Festival (premiers of works by RCS composition students).
  • Student led ensembles are given specialist professional coaching throughout their studies.


Genovia Quartet

Genovia Quartet is an innovative and dynamic bassoon quartet comprising current and recent RCS students – Rhiannon Carmichael, Gillian Horn, Victoria Lopez and Ana Rodriguez Garcia. The ensemble has performed to critical acclaim on the international stage.

“The most essential part of evolving and learning as a chamber group is to have as much platform time as possible, in order to try out ideas and put your hard work into practice. The RCS Woodwind department offers numerous performance opportunities including its Mondays and Fridays at One concert series, as well as links to external engagements (such as the Westbourne Music concert series). We were ‘Highly Commended’ in the RCS Governors’ Recital Prize for Chamber Music and we were honoured to receive the Mary D. Adams Prize for outstanding achievement in chamber music.

“In terms of preparing for performances, we received high quality tuition sessions throughout the year from experts including David Hubbard, RSNO and Alison Green, SCO. We were also able to perform in the weekly performance classes, open days, education workshops, and participated in masterclasses with prominent musicians such as Joost Bosdjik from the London Symphony Orchestra.

“Having access to the top quality recording studios in the RCS was a huge bonus, as we were able to put together a CD for promotional use.

“Performing chamber music is one of the most fun and beneficial learning experiences you can have as a musician. Programming your own concerts, discovering new repertoire, organising your time/members and most importantly being dedicated to your ensemble – these are all skills we learned within the Conservatoire and have been putting into practice ever since. If you make good use of the facilities and excellent tuition, you can build on these skills to become autonomous and well-prepared to enter the profession.”

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

General Academic Entrance Requirements