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The programme

Choristers from the RCM Junior Department
At the centre of the main programme are the individual lessons you will receive on your first study (your main instrument, which may also be voice or composition). This may be joined by an optional second study

Around the individual lessons fit a range of supporting studies which will usually include chamber music (1 hour), orchestra (1 to 2 hours depending on the group), choir (1 hour) and musicianship (1 hour). There are many performance opportunities, and students are assessed at various points throughout their time at RCMJD. To find out more about the programme, click on the relevant links below.

Our teachers, who include RCM professors and other distinguished musicians, are all highly qualified and experienced leaders in their field. Our students are expected to devote a considerable amount of time each week to practice, as advised by teachers, in order to gain the best possible benefit from the tuition offered. If you learn with an RCMJD teacher, it is expected that they will be your only teacher, though participation in masterclasses and other one-off events is encouraged after consultation with your teacher at RCMJD.

All elements of the curriculum as well as all written and spoken correspondence are delivered in English. It is therefore essential that all students and parents have a good grasp of both written and spoken English.

Individual lessons

At the centre of the RCMJD curriculum is the first study (your main instrument, which may also be voice or composition). A second study is optional, and study of piano is encouraged but not essential. First study Jazz instrumentalists are encouraged to support their studies with classical tuition and musicianship.

A third instrument is not normally recommended for reasons of time. However, harpsichord or organ for pianists, orchestral wind instruments for recorder players and saxophone for clarinetists may be considered suitable. Composition may be a suitable third study, particularly for GCSE and AS/A2 level students, and class-taught composition is also available as part of musicianship studies.

The default length for first study lessons is 45 minutes, and 30 minutes for second study. Longer lessons are available at extra cost (for more information see Fees & Bursaries). 

All individual lessons must be supported by practice during the week as advised by teachers.

Chamber music

Chamber music is regarded as a fundamental element in the training of young musicians in the RCMJD. We have over 70 chamber groups including:

String Quartets, Piano Trios, Piano Groups; Violin, Cello and Bass Groups; Wind Quintets; Wind Octet; Clarinet Choir; Recorder, Saxophone, Percussion, Harp, Guitar, Baroque, Jazz and Brass Ensembles; Brass Dectet.

Groups meet for an hour or more each week and there are many performance and coaching opportunities both inside and outside the College, including collaborations with players from other London Junior Departments. We encourage our students, where appropriate, to take part in music making outside the RCMJD both locally and nationally.


The RCMJD has five orchestras and places are allocated according to the student’s age, orchestral ability and progress. All orchestras have a team of tutors to assist in full rehearsals and sectionals.

The orchestras are: Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia, String Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Orchestra.


Choral singing is an integral part of the RCMJD curriculum for all. It develops aural awareness, vocal technique and general musical perception.

The RCMJD has seven choirs catering for varying ages, voices and abilities: Vocal Ensemble, Chamber Choir, Girls' Choir, Senior Choir, Concert Choir, Treble Choir, Training Choir.

Musicianship and Aural Classes

All students take part in weekly musicianship classes which help to increase perception and knowledge of music and encourage creative responses to it.

These classes provide a thorough grounding in listening skills, aural, contextual awareness and active performance, and they support all other elements of the curriculum. All students are required to take ABRSM Theory or Practical Musicianship Grade 6 and afterwards may choose to take classes in composition and improvisation or continue with higher theory grades.

In addition, classes for Year 12 and 13 students may be available if demand is sufficient to help prepare for entrance to conservatoire and university music courses and to support AS and A2 work at school. We do not currently teach the GCSE or AS/A2 courses.

Aural Classes are also available (subject to the feasibility of each year’s timetable) to provide support in developing general aural skills as well as supplementing the training/preparation for ABRSM graded Practical Examination aural tests that students receive in their individual study lessons.

Alexander technique

Alexander technique: free classes (taken in pairs and subject to timetabling) are also available on Saturdays by special request and teacher recommendation.

Performance opportunities

Each week a Performers Platform provides opportunities for students to perform solo or ensemble works in front of an informal audience (accompanist provided). Experienced tutors give performance feedback as well as tips on techniques. Eleven annual competitions, adjudicated by leading professionals in the music world, provide valuable experience and exposure for students who take part.

Over 25 regular concerts per year showcase the ongoing work of our orchestras and ensembles including an annual Symphony Orchestra concert at a high-profile external venue.  Most concerts are open to the public and almost all are currently free of charge for parents. Our musicians are also regularly invited to perform outside the RCMJD for special concerts and events.

We encourage our students to take an active part in the musical lives of their school and/or home communities. It is polite to check with your RCMJD teacher that he/she is happy for you to take part in an external performance, and it is essential to seek their advice and agreement to solo performances or competitions.

Support and assessment

At RCMJD we pride ourselves on the high level of individual care and support we offer to our students and are always alert to each individual’s aims and achievements. In return we expect a high level of commitment and personal responsibility from students and parents alike.

Students are assessed regularly and reports are issued twice each academic year. All Year 12 students have a one-to-one interview with the Head of Junior Programmes to discuss their career plans and life after RCMJD. Whilst many of our students go on to study music at universities and conservatoires both in the UK and abroad, a good number choose alternative careers, and career support is always on hand.

All our staff are trained musicians and are willing to help and advise where necessary. A weekly Director’s Surgery ensures that those wishing to discuss particular issues have the opportunity to do so

Special Programmes

In addition to the main programme, RCMJD runs two Special Programmes: the Mini Bass Course, and the Visually Impaired Musicians Scheme

Both operate at the RCM on a Saturday between the hours of 9am and 5pm, though timetables will be kept as compact as possible for our youngest students. For more information please click on the links below.

Mini-bass course

The Mini Bass course is our pioneering scheme for beginners aged between eight and 10. A fully-insured instrument is provided for practice purposes at home.*

Established in 1985 in association with the Yorke Trust, this exciting initiative allows students to learn double bass on specially designed instruments in individual lessons and small groups. Tuition also encompasses basic theory and ensemble work. Most students will proceed to the RCMJD as full members in due course, subject to audition.

Students on the Mini-Bass scheme have gone on to play in some of the world’s top orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Who can apply?

Subject to space being available on the scheme, students are accepted from the age of eight (occasionally six or seven) on the basis of a short and straightforward musical aptitude test, and must also show a keenness to learn.

What is on offer?

Students are given a 30-minute individual lesson and will also take part in a 1 hour group session during which they study basic music theory through a carefully tailored and accessible scheme of work. Mini-bass students will also take part in a choir (1 hour) and, when ready, an orchestra (up to 1 hour and 15 minutes).

Students may request to extend their programme (at additional cost) to include second study lessons and/or further musicianship classes by arrangement with the Head of Junior Programmes. After 3 or 4 years, we aim that our mini-bass students are at an appropriate level to audition successfully for full membership of the RCMJD.

Please note that the fees for the mini-bass scheme are heavily subsidised; we therefore regret that it is not possible for parents of mini-bass students to apply for further assistance with fees from the JD Bursary Fund.

When is it?

Like the RCMJD as a whole, the mini-bass course takes place between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays during term time, though the course will not fill all those hours and timetables will be kept as compact as possible for our youngest students.

Where is it?

At the Royal College of Music.

How do I apply?

To apply for the mini-bass scheme please fill out the application form putting 'mini-bass' in the first study field and if you are a total beginner, put '0' for the number of years you have been learning.

If you currently play an instrument, note it down under second study and don’t forget to tell us how long you’ve been learning. Don’t worry if you can’t complete every section. For more general information on how to apply as well as the closing date for applications and a downloadable application form, see the How to Apply section.

*At the start of the course fully insured instruments up to quarter-size are provided free of charge by the RCMJD. As a student progresses there is a possibility that they may outgrow the instruments in our collection and require one of a size and/or level that we cannot provide. We regret that we cannot cover the hire cost of mini-basses outside the RCMJD collection.

Visually Impaired Musicians Scheme

If you require this information in larger type or Braille please contact the RCMJD office on 020 7591 4334 or email

The RCMJD Visually Impaired Musicians’ Scheme (VIMS) has provided an opportunity for motivated visually impaired students of all musical abilities from beginner to advanced to study music in an exciting and supportive environment, with students taught by leading specialists for one-to-one lessons as well as group work.

A key element has been the use of (and training on) specially developed computer technology for the visually impaired. The scheme has aimed to build confidence, discipline and self-motivation through accomplishment in music (these life-long skills are especially important to young people with a visual impairment). Some students from the course have gone on to study full-time degree courses at Conservatoires and Universities.

At present, we are not able to accept new applications to join for the Visually Impaired Musicians Scheme. To be sent more information at the point where the scheme is in a position to receive new intake, please contact Jacqueline Clifton – if emailing, please copy in the RCMJD office (

Jacqueline Clifton, Director – Musicians in Focus
6 Hafod Street
CF11 6RA 
Tel: 029 2023 1113