We want to work with aspiring musical directors on this exciting new Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Direction at Scotland’s national conservatoire.
This one-year programme aims to teach you the core skills and processes required to progress on to full-time Masters study. Studying within our distinctive conservatoire environment will allow you to work closely with musical theatre performers, actors, musicians and artists from across RCS.
You will focus on the development of skills with regular one-to-one lessons in keyboard skills, scoring, arranging and conducting, while project workshops will look to provide the space and insight needed to explore all musical directing processes. These sessions will include coaching the voice, working with a creative team, band coaching, advanced sound programming techniques, leading an ensemble and ultimately, performance.
You will also work with specialist project mentors to support your individual aims and goals, and to gain insight into how your artistic practice relates to musical theatre. Opportunities to observe, assist and lead on projects will be explored as you grow in skill and experience, with the aim of supporting the next generation of innovative and highly skilled musical directors.
This programme is designed to support the development of Skills and Project work across the full academic year. There are both core skills and project preparation modules across each term each with a different focus, level of responsibility and sense of autonomy.
The focus on skills runs at the core of the programme providing a grounding in technique across the main associated skill areas.
Keyboard skills — explores both the technical and creative challenges of keyboard skills alongside further sessions in harmonic awareness, transposition and sight-reading skills
Conducting — explores the development of the technical and creative skills associated with a range of repertoire and genres.
Scoring and arranging — supports knowledge and understanding of scoring techniques appropriate for a range of varying ensembles and the successful notation of the main sound worlds.
Voice – provides each student with both the technical and anatomical understanding of the voice and the processes of warming-up through both theoretical and stylistic coaching of the voice.
Sound work — allows each MD to engage with the several key programmes used in the world of contemporary musical theatre.
Artist in Development — provides each student with an insight in themselves in relation to the professional world while the exploration of their process through repertoire coaching sessions, performance class and auditions would provide each student with valuable experience in integrated core skill with their professional practice.
There will be support and guidance given to ground all the Core skills associated with Musical Direction while still enough space to allow for the varying levels of knowledge and experience on entry. There will be an opportunity to ground core techniques in Term 1 before moving onto more specific stylistic skill work in both Legit and Contemporary styles through Terms 2 and 3 respectively.
Term 1 – Focus is on grounding skills in each area. Personal Development Plans will be set focusing on key areas of learning and space and time will be provided to allow for significant development in the 5 key skills areas of keyboard, conducting, scoring and arranging, voice and sound.
Term 2 – Legit Musical theatre skills will allow a more specific book musical focus with importance being placed on the key aspects to that style of MT including classical piano technique, orchestral conducting technique and scoring and arranging support for a conventional orchestral texture. External Observation may include School of Music Symphony or Opera rehearsals and weekly repertoire will be based in this book musical style.
Term 3 – Focus would progress onto the contemporary style of Musical theatre with a focus on pop and rock repertoire. Keyboard skills will shift to focus on time and chord reading while scoring and arranging will provide support for band and rhythm section charts. External observations will include Jazz rehearsals and an opportunity to observe and participate in the MA cabarets will be available.
Project preparation would be a series of mentor-led session exploring the many processes needed as an emerging Musical Director. These would be led by the programme team coordinator but also allow sessions with many external musical directors from across the UK. Sessions would include;
- Note-learning sessions
- Vocal warm-ups
- Band and orchestra calls
- Rehearsal techniques
- Rep session processes
- Performance class and Auditions pianists experience
- Creative team relationship etiquette
- Author relationship etiquette
- Communication and Management skills.
There will be an opportunity to observe many diverse and interesting processes across the RCS building (SoM rehearsals or Jazz programme work) and when relevant assist on specified projects. The growth in contextual understanding would allow each student space and time to establish and refine their process before similar projects in the MA Programme.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is consistently ranked in the World Top 10 for performing arts education (QS World Rankings 2023)
- Full year of intensive training, supported by an experienced team of in-house and external industry professionals
- Small class sizes with high contact time.
- Programme design that prioritises experiential learning and self-determined pathways
- Collaborative and inter-disciplinary opportunities, such as can only be found within the particular conservatoire environment we provide
- New musical development workshops with industry creatives and collaborative partners
- Full season of performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
- Regular contact with industry professionals and mentors
Head of Musical Theatre (Academic Lead)
Through your studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, you will receive support and guidance from staff, external specialists and industry professionals. The staff tutors and their team will manage your day-to-day skills base development while external directors and musical directors will work with you in performance classes and project work. Each student will also meet many visiting practitioners in order to support network opportunities and contacts with industry professionals.
- Gordon Adams – Programme Coordinator, MA Musical Theatre Lecturer, Voice and Singing
- David Higham – Associate Head of BA Musical Theatre, Lecturer, Musical Direction
- Ruth Mills – Lecturer, Dance
- Jean Sangster – Head of Voice (SDDPF) and the Centre for Voice in Performance (CViP)
Musical Directors Mentors
- David Higham
- Pete Woollard
- Hilary Brooks
- Amy Shackcloth
- Nick Finlow
- Stuart Morley
- Ted Arthur
David Higham, Laura McIntosh, Pete Woollard
Richard Lewis, Andrew Nunn
Scoring and Arranging
Oli Searle, Chris Greive
Sound and Programming
Classes take place across the two Royal Conservatoire of Scotland buildings. Core classes take place in our purpose-built dance studios and drama/voice rooms at either Renfrew Street or the award-winning Wallace Studios at Speirs Locks. Research, reflective practice and professional practice subjects are taught in a fully-equipped student IT suite and supported by one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of performance materials for dance, drama, music, production and film in the Whittaker Library.
The Wallace Studios at Speirs Locks has been developed to include eight purpose-built multi-functional dance and drama rehearsal spaces which will be utilized for all major productions — allowing a fully integrated professional rehearsal process with onsite production and technical team involvement.
External venues used by the programme have included Tron Theatre, Scottish Youth Theatre, The Whiskey Bond and Sloans.
Tuition fees for academic year 2024/25
You can find tuition fees for entry in September 2024 on our fees and funding page.
The Royal Conservatoire is resolutely international in outlook and we celebrate and are enriched by the diversity of our community of students and staff. Students from across the globe are welcome and valued members of the RCS community and we continue to welcome applicants from across the EU and throughout the world.
Q: What is the fee situation for EU students?
A: On July 9 2020, Scotland’s Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead announced changes to the fee regime for EU students studying in Scotland. From 2021/22, all EU students commencing study in Scotland will pay fees at the International rate.
Q: I’m an EU student looking to start my studies in 2024/25. How does this impact me?
A: From academic year 2021/22 onwards, all EU students commencing study in Scotland will pay fees at the International rate.
Only EU nationals who are ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ in the UK will remain eligible to apply for home tuition fees providing they meet the residency conditions.
Other EU nationals and associated groups, starting a course of study in 24/25 are not eligible to apply to SAAS for tuition fee support.
Because of a long-standing agreement between the UK and Republic of Ireland, new students from the Republic of Ireland will be eligible to pay the rest of UK (RUK) fee and will be able to access a tuition fee loan from SAAS.
Please also see the SAAS website for more information.
Cost of Living and Associated Programme Costs
Investing in your future is important and you need to consider the cost of your tuition as well as the cost of living during your studies. In addition to tuition fees, it is estimated that you will need between £10,000 and £12,000 per year to live in Glasgow, plus programme costs. Associated programme costs can be found on our Finance page.
- Apply via UCAS conservatoires
Applications are made through UCAS Conservatoires website. The UCAS Conservatoires application system is separate from the main UCAS undergraduate application system. If you wish to apply to conservatoires and universities within UCAS, you will need to register for both services.
There is a UCAS application fee of £27.50 to register to use UCAS Conservatoires.
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 closing date for all on time undergraduate applications from the UK, EU and International (non EU) is 31 January 2024. If you submit your application after this date, we cannot guarantee that you will be invited to audition. If you do consider to submit a late application, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance to check we are accepting late applications. Late applications will be considered on a case by case basis.
We do not offer deferred entry. If you wish to commence in 2024, you must apply next year.
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland institution code is R58.
You will also require the following programme code to apply:
Graduate Diploma in Musical Direction: 705F
- 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 £55 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 £55 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.
- Entrance requirements
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
- Contextualised data
General Academic entrance requirements
Applicants are normally expected to hold an appropriate undergraduate 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 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). Level 7.5 (with a score of 7.5 in speaking) is required.
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.
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.
- Selection process
Applicants who apply on time (before 31 March 2023) are invited by email, approximately three weeks before the audition date, to RCS to undertake an audition/interview. All auditions/interviews will take place at RCS, in Glasgow, unless you have chosen to audition online. We have many years of experience of conducting online auditions and have a well-established format and process in place, so no applicant will be disadvantaged by auditioning in this manner.
Please note that RCS is only obliged to offer one audition/interview date per application. Alternative dates will only be provided (subject to availability) in exceptional circumstances. If you are unable to make your allocated audition date, you should email us immediately stating the reason.
MA Musical Theatre (Musical Directing) and Professional Graduate Diploma in Musical Direction auditions will take place from February to April.
- Recorded audition
If you are auditioning via video recording, please read the information in the Audition section before sending us your material. Prior to submitting a recorded audition, you must apply via UCAS Conservatoires. Recorded auditions and other relevant information can be easily submitted online using Acceptd. You will need to create an account, but then you can easily upload the recordings you wish to be considered. Recordings will not be considered until a UCAS Conservatoires application has been submitted. Once you have completed the UCAS Conservatoires application, you should proceed to Acceptd to submit your video recording. We will only accept recordings submitted via Acceptd and will not accept any other format, i.e. DVDs. Recordings should arrive by the 31 March 2023.
Once you apply on UCAS Conservatoires, you will be emailed in due course with an audition date. All auditions/interviews will either take place at the RCS campus on Renfrew Street in Glasgow or will take place online via a mixture of live work on Zoom and recordings/materials submitted on Acceptd. We have many years of experience of conducting online auditions and have a well-established format and process in place, so no applicant will be disadvantaged by auditioning in this manner.
We ask that you complete these below tasks to the best of your ability. We have looked to make the audition process as accessible as possible for all applicants and we are happy to answer any queries you have that are specific to your circumstance. Questions can be sent directly to David Higham, Associate Head of Musical Theatre (Music), at D.Higham@rcs.ac.uk.
Your Musical Directing audition will be split into three sections, details of which are below:
Consultation Piano Lesson: 30 minutes
You will be given a consultation piano lesson working through varying pieces of repertoire chosen by them. This session will explore a range of varying keyboard skills through a one-to-one workshop. In-person candidates will be asked to bring a small selection of song accompaniments for this session; online candidates will have this lesson on Zoom.
Ensemble Singing Workshop: 20 minutes
- In-person candidates will be asked to lead a vocal workshop with a small group, which should include:
- the teaching of a short section of ensemble repertoire of the candidate’s choosing
- elements of vocal guidance
- elements of style and interpretation
- Online candidates will be asked to submit a recording of you leading a workshop with the areas highlighted above, uploading to your profile on Acceptd. If you are unable to work with an ensemble in person, we would be happy for you to submit a recording of you working with an ensemble over Zoom. Please do try and submit this prior to your audition/interview but if not possible, please let us know and you can then submit this up to 3 weeks after your interview.
Interview: 15 minutes
The candidate will be asked a series of questions in relation to their skills, knowledge, and experience as an emerging Musical Director. Focus will be placed on areas of communication, knowledge, and awareness of style and genre shown by each candidate.
Sight Reading: 15 minutes
The candidate will be asked to play two songs of varying styles and complexity chosen by the panel. Candidates will be given around 10 minutes to scan the piece before the process of sight-reading each song. Candidates may be redirected through this process.
Folio Submission – including your CV, and the set arrangement
Please forward or upload any material that you feel would support your application on Acceptd – this applies to both in-person and online candidates. This should include a CV, any relevant documentation of scoring or arranging work and could include videos or audio recordings of your work.
Candidates will also be asked to arrange the following extracts for your choice of ensemble and upload your scoring of the set arrangement below. This may be discussed further at your audition.
- In-person candidates will be asked to lead a vocal workshop with a small group, which should include:
- 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, unless an earlier date is specified. If your conditions include obtaining IELTS (English Language test), you must meet this condition by 31 May.
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.
- 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 2023 1 February 2023 15 March 2023 11 April 2023 15 May 2023 1 June 2023 11 July 2023 27 July 2023 2 August 2023 8 September 2023
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.