This is our most frequently asked question, and it’s quite a tricky one to answer, particularly for our younger applicants as we’re looking for potential as well as achievement.
There are always going to be some exceptions but as a general rule, if you’re 11 or younger your first study will need to be at least Grade 5 level when you join the Department, in order to take full advantage of the ensemble opportunities that form part of our programme. If you’re older than 11 then we will obviously expect you to be more advanced (our sixth formers are almost always at or beyond Grade 8 standard).
On instruments often started at a later age, particularly viola, bassoon, horn, trombone, tuba, harp, organ and double bass, a lower level of attainment may be acceptable; on our most popular instruments (currently violin and piano) the students to whom we usually offer places are often working at a significantly more advanced level. Your current teacher (or a professional musician who has seen and heard you play or sing) is the best person to advise you as without having heard you we will be unable to comment.
Present attainment, the number of places available for each instrument and suitability for the course are all also taken into consideration (as well as commitment and musical 'spark'). Entry is competitive by audition, but we try to keep these as friendly as possible. We currently try to schedule an audition for every person that applies to us within the correct time frame though cannot guarantee to do so.
Not quite there yet?
If you're keen on music but don't think you're really ready for the intensive programme we offer, the RCM Sparks team have all sorts of music making you can take part in. Read all about RCM Sparks.
Your county music service or hub should also be able to help you find ways to explore your musical talent. They are listed on the Music Education UK by region, though this list does not automatically link to the relevant website so once you have identified your local service/hub/council scheme, you will need to do an internet search on it for more information. This should set you well on the way to finding out about music opportunities in your area.