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Study options & audition requirements

Student conductor talks to an ensemble during a conducting class
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.

Conductors audition by submitting an original video recording of a rehearsal or performance they conducted in the last 12 months. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an initial in-person audition. A second shortlisting process will take place and selected candidates will be invited to another audition the following day.

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 conducting?

Principal studies

Conducting is only available as a principal study specialism at Masters level. A module in conducting is available to undergraduates in years 3 and 4 and Masters students.

In addition to the normal academic and musical standards expected for entry to the RCM's MPerf or MMus course, conducting applicants will be expected to show a detailed knowledge of orchestral repertoire and to prove a genuine commitment to conducting as a significant part of their professional career.

Submitting your recording

You should submit your recording online via the RCM submission portal by 1 October 2019. 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

What to expect at audition

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.

Contact Admissions

When you arrive at the RCM, you should find out from the front desk where your audition will take place.

Please note, it is not possible to audition for conducting by recording only (ie without audition) or at any of our overseas audition venues.

The first round of conducting auditions lasts approximately 30 minutes per candidate. Remember that you may be required for two days. You should plan your travel and accommodation accordingly. The second round of auditions take place over the course of half a day.

Audition day 1

Candidates who pass the initial shortlisting process will be invited for an audition at the RCM in February. The audition may include:

  • Aural tests, including a rhythmic beating pattern.
  • Tests on knowledge of orchestral music, instrumentation, score recognition and transposition.
  • A short score reading exercise at the keyboard.
  • Sight singing.
  • A viva voce on all aspects of orchestral music.

At the end of the day candidates will be shortlisted again.

Audition day 2

Candidates who pass the second shortlisting process will be invited for another audition at the RCM on the following day.

The audition will involve conducting an RCM instrumental ensemble in a rehearsal of excerpts from one or more works, as directed by the audition panel, to include a piece of sight-reading with a 30 minute preparation period.

What to bring

All candidates are expected to play an instrument, sing or compose to a high standard and will be asked to demonstrate this at audition. You will be required to perform repertoire of your choice for around five minutes on the first audition day. You should remember to bring your instrument and music for this purpose or, for those demonstrating compositional skill, a score that best represents your work.

Instrumentalists should remember to bring anything needed for their instrument (eg a spike grip for a cello). Candidates may wish to bring their own accompanist, or alternatively the RCM will have an accompanist available.  

Details of the set pieces will be sent with audition timetables. Please remember to bring scores and a baton with you.

What not to bring

You cannot bring a page-turner, your teacher or a translator into your audition. As our courses are taught in English we expect you to be able to communicate in English at your audition.


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 and general audition enquiries