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Study options & audition requirements

An RCM saxophonist performing a concerto with the RCM Philharmonic
We understand that auditions are a significant milestone on every applicant’s journey towards a career as a conservatoire musician. The guidance below will help you prepare to the best of your abilities and make you aware of what will happen at your Royal College of Music audition.

Your experience will depend on your specialism and your chosen audition location. Typical questions you may be asked during your audition include:

  • Why do you want to study at the RCM?
  • What are your musical interests?
  • What do you think you need to do most to improve your playing?

Most candidates audition at the RCM in London. We also offer auditions at a number of venues overseas. The audition process differs between venues. You are advised to read the information below carefully.

Principal studies

Every student undertakes principal study in their main specialism, which lies at the heart of their RCM experience. You can audition for the following principal studies. Please note that research degrees have their own set of requirements.

Flute

Undergraduate & taught postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Fauré Fantasie op 79
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

What to expect at audition

Oboe

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Telemann Sonata in A minor, first and second movements (Hortus Musicus/Bärenreiter)
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

Taught postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Mozart Concerto in C major K314, first movement
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

What to expect at audition

Clarinet

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Schumann Fantasiestücke op 73, first and second movements (Peters edition)
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

Taught postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Mozart Concerto in A K622, first movement
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

What to expect at audition

Saxophone

Applicants can audition either on alto or tenor saxophone.

Undergraduate

Alto Saxophone

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Jolivet Fantasie-Impromptu (Leduc edition)
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

Tenor Saxophone

Applicants should prepare:

  • Two contrasting pieces

Taught postgraduate

Alto Saxophone

Applicants should prepare:

  • Two contrasting pieces, one of which must be written after 1950

Tenor Saxophone

Applicants should prepare:

  • Two contrasting pieces

What to expect at audition

Bassoon

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • A baroque sonata
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

Taught postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Mozart: Concerto in B flat K191, first movement
  • A contrasting piece of your own choice

What to expect at audition

Related Studies

Related study allows instrumentalists to receive tuition on an instrument closely related to their principal study. The following instruments are available as related study options:

  • Piccolo
  • Alto flute
  • Bass flute
  • Jazz flute
  • Cor anglais
  • E flat clarinet
  • Bass clarinet
  • Jazz saxophone
  • Contrabassoon

Related studies are approved by the relevant Head of Faculty once a student has started their course. No audition is required and you do not need to let us know about your interest in related study before you arrive at the RCM.

Historical Woodwind

It is possible to undertake studies on the following specialisms through our Historical Performance faculty:

  • Recorder, contemporary recorder and recorder consort
  • Historic flute
  • Historic oboe
  • Historic clarinets
  • Historic bassoon

Visit Historical Performance

Second study

Most undergraduates on the BMus course and postgraduates studying for MPerf, MComp or MMus have the option of undertaking a second study specialism. Second study allows students to receive tuition in a second specialism, taught and assessed at a lower intensity than their principal study, in an area that does not qualify for related study.

Second study specialisms are subject to successful audition and the agreement of the relevant Head of Faculty. Auditions take place during the first few weeks of the course, and students will have the opportunity to register for these auditions shortly before the start of the academic year. There is no need to inform the RCM at the point of application.

What to Bring

In most cases you only need to bring your instrument and music for you and your accompanist. Please remember to bring anything you need for your instrument (eg reeds).

What not to bring

You cannot bring a page-turner, your teacher or a translator into your audition. The only people in your audition room will be you, your accompanist and the audition panel. As our courses are taught in English we expect you to be able to communicate in English at your audition.

Woodwind auditions in London

The time shown on UCAS Conservatoires is your audition time. You should plan to arrive at the RCM at least 30 minutes before this, to allow time to check in and warm up. We advise allowing plenty of extra time for travelling into or across London.

If you are caught in an unavoidable delay, please telephone the Admissions team on +44 (0)20 7591 4362 immediately so that, wherever possible, alternative arrangements can be made.

When you arrive at the RCM, you should find out from the steward in the entrance hall where your audition will take place.

You will have 20 minutes of warm-up time with your accompanist prior to your audition. We are not able to provide practice rooms for you to use before this.

You are welcome to bring your own accompanist. Alternatively, the RCM will have accompanists available on the day of your audition. We usually have several accompanists working on each audition day. We are unable to provide the name or contact details of our accompanists in advance.

If you require an RCM accompanist you do not need to tell us in advance; just inform the steward for your audition panel when you arrive.  

You do not need to tell us what you are performing in your audition and please do not send copies of the music in advance.  Our accompanists are very experienced and are familiar with most standard repertoire.

Woodwind auditions last approximately 20 minutes. Candidates will be directed by the panel to perform their audition pieces or particular extracts. We cannot say in advance which extracts you might be asked to perform, so you should prepare all of the materials in full. You will be required to take a sight-reading test and there will be a short interview.

Some candidates may be referred for a short interview with the Head of Faculty.  If so this will take place on the same day, normally within around an hour of the original audition, so candidates should make travel plans accordingly.

Woodwind auditions overseas

You should plan to arrive at the audition venue at least 30 minutes before your scheduled audition time.

We advise allowing plenty of extra time for travelling into or across the city where your audition is being held.

You will be sent detailed instructions about what to do at your chosen venue in your invitation email. When you arrive at the audition venue check for signage. Please note that there will not be a front desk run by an RCM steward, although some venues have a public reception desk manned by their own staff.

Woodwind auditions last approximately 20 minutes. Candidates will be directed by the panel to perform their audition pieces or particular extracts. We cannot say in advance which extracts you might be asked to perform, so you should prepare all of the materials in full. You will be required to take a sight-reading test and there will be a short interview.

  

Please note that we are only able to provide RCM accompanists in London and New York.

Where the RCM can provide an accompanist for you, this will only be on the day of your audition, not beforehand. If you require an RCM accompanist please remember to bring copies of the music for them.

You do not need to tell us what you are performing in your audition and please do not send copies of the music in advance.

Overseas audition venues

Audition by recording

Wherever possible, we recommend that candidates attend a live audition. However, candidates who are resident outside Europe and who are unable to attend one of our live venues may choose to audition by video recording. This option is only available to instrumentalists and vocalists.

Applications for entry in September 2019 are now open. The application deadline for applications by recording is 1 October 2018.

Late applications may be considered for some courses and principal studies. Please contact our Admissions team to check before submitting a late application. 

Restrictions

Auditioning by recording is only available to candidates resident outside Europe.

Candidates for the following principal studies cannot audition by recording:

  • Composition
  • Composition for Screen
  • Conducting
  • Harpsichord
  • Organ
  • Lute
  • Percussion

Candidates for the following performance courses cannot audition by recording:

  • Bachelor of Science in Physics and Music Performance
  • Artist Diploma in Opera

Different application processes apply for the following courses (please see the relevant course information page for details):

  • Master of Science in Performance Science
  • Master of Education
  • Doctoral of Music
  • Doctor of Philosophy

Application fees for auditions by recording

  • Single study instrumentalists or vocalists with or without a second study: £100

Consideration for scholarships when auditioning by recording

You will not be eligible for consideration for scholarships using this application method.

How to audition by recording

Your recorded audition should consist of a video recording lasting approximately 20 minutes. Audio only recordings will not be accepted.

Candidates should prepare the same repertoire as candidates auditioning in person. Please refer to the audition requirements stipulated by the relevant faculty.

You should submit your recording online via the RCM submission portal by the application deadline for your course. The information you upload to the portal does not constitute your entire application, but does form an integral part of it. You should ensure you have provided everything that is required. Incomplete applications may not be considered.

Submit your recording

Scholarships

Every student who auditions in person for a place on one of the RCM's performance or composition courses will be considered for a scholarship or study award. Composers who audition by video interview will also be considered.

There is no separate application process.

Eligibility for scholarships is based on merit, which is determined by performance at audition or the strength of portfolio and interview for composers. Unfortunately, the following applicants cannot be considered for scholarships or study awards:

  • Performers who audition by recording
  • Applicants for the Bachelor of Science in Physics and Music Performance
  • Applicants for the Master of Science in Performance Science
  • Applicants for the Master of Education

If you are offered a scholarship or study award you will receive a letter, normally sent by email, confirming this and the conditions of your award.

In exceptional circumstances, an applicant may be offered a scholarship on the day of their audition.

After your audition

You will be informed of the result of your audition as soon as possible. The RCM cannot enter into correspondence over the results of auditions. 

Find out more

Audition queries

Please double-check that you are available at the time and date of your audition. If there are any special circumstances the RCM needs to be aware of before your audition, please let us know in advance.

Find out more

If you have any questions about auditions or the application process please contact our Admissions team.

Admissions team

Admissions and general audition enquiries

admissions@rcm.ac.uk