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Study options & audition requirements

A pianists fingers on the keys of the instrument
We understand that auditions are a significant milestone on every conservatoire applicant’s journey. 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. 

Most candidates audition at the RCM in London. We also offer auditions at a number of venues overseas. The audition process differs between venues. If you are unable to attend in person, you have the option to audition by video. 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.

Expand the options below to find out the audition requirements for each principal study. 

Video auditions for 2022 entry

We are planning to audition in London for 2022 entry and applicants who would prefer not to travel may submit a video audition instead. 

We are planning on holding auditions for most principal studies at our New York audition venue but the RCM will not be auditioning at any of our other overseas venues for 2022 entry, due to the current situation. The safety of our audition candidates is paramount and the RCM has made this decision in response to the latest guidance from the UK Government and the authorities in the audition locations. Applicants who would have auditioned at our overseas venues are invited to submit a video audition.

All candidates will automatically be considered for scholarships on the basis of their audition, including those who audition by video. Video auditions are assessed on the basis of the video submission and UCAS Conservatoires application. Some applicants may be asked to participate in a short video interview after their audition recording is assessed.

Your video audition should consist of a video recording lasting approximately 20 minutes. Taught postgraduate piano and contemporary piano applicants need to record and submit a varied programme of 50 minutes which includes an advanced étude. Video audition submissions may include more than one file from different performances. Audio only recordings will not be accepted.

Find out more

Piano

Undergraduate (BMus)

For both video and live auditions, applicants should present a programme of three works of their own choice, played from memory. Duration should be a minimum of 15 minutes and the programme should contain a variety of style, period and character.

In live auditions the panels reserve the right to hear only two pieces overall.

Live auditionees should bring proof of recent public performances (for example, in concerts or competitions) along to the audition. Video auditionees should upload this to the submission portal with their audition video.

Taught Postgraduate (MMus, MPerf & Artist Diploma)

For both video and live auditions, applicants should present a varied programme of 50 minutes, played from memory, which should include an advanced étude.

In live auditions the panels will select up to 20 minutes of the programme to hear. Video auditions should contain the full 50 minute programme.

Live auditionees should bring a list of the repertoire studied in depth in recent years as well as proof of recent public performances along to the audition. Video auditionees should upload this to the submission portal with their audition video.

What to expect at audition

Collaborative piano

Taught Postgraduate (MMus MPerf & Artist Diploma)

We are looking for a very high level of pianistic skill and ability to collaborate with both singers and instrumentalists. It is essential to be a fluent sight-reader.

All applicants, whether auditioning by video or in person, should prepare:

  • A programme of three works of their own choice, to include a contrast in instrumental and vocal repertoire, for which you need to provide your own soloist(s).

For those auditioning at RCM, and would like RCM to provide soloists, need to prepare the following programme:

  • Beethoven 7 Variations for Cello and Piano on Mozart's 'Bei Männern' WoO 46
  • R Strauss Allerseelen op 10 no 8 (in E flat) 
  • Britten Let the florid music praise! (On this Island) (in D/G minor)

Live auditions will include a sight reading test. For video audition candidates sight-reading will not be required, but shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a video interview.

All applicants should provide a list of repertoire studied in depth in recent years and show proof of recent public performances. Video auditionees should upload this to the submission portal with their audition video.

What to expect at audition

Please note, we are not able to provide RCM soloists at our overseas audition venues. If you are auditioning for collaborative piano overseas please ensure you arrange your own soloist.

Contemporary piano

Postgraduate only (MMus, MPerf)

Candidates interested in the Contemporary Piano specialism (which runs within the MMus and MPerf courses) are encouraged to include one or more works written after 1970 in their programme. However, an applicant can opt to undertake this specialism at a later date so it is not essential to include such repertoire in the audition programme.

What to expect at audition

Organ

Details of the organ the RCM uses for auditions can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register website. Undergraduate applicants normally audition on the organ situated in the West Parry Room and Postgraduate applicants normally audition on the organ situated in the AFCH. Undergraduate applicants will have 45 minutes to warm up on this instrument and Postgraduate applicants will have 60 minutes. 

Undergraduate (BMus)

For both video and live auditions, applicants should prepare one of the following pieces:

  • JS Bach Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 545
  • Buxtehude Praeludium in D major BuxWV 139

Plus:

  • One other contrasting piece lasting not more than five minutes.

Taught Postgraduate (MMus, MPerf & Artist Diploma)

For both video and live auditions, applicants should prepare a varied programme of 15 minutes, to include a fast movement from JS Bach Trio Sonata no 2, 5 or 6 BWV 526, 529, 530.

What to expect at audition

Related studies

Related study allows instrumentalists to receive tuition on an instrument closely associated with their principal study. Students can take one of our principal options as their related study, as long as a clear relationship exists. For example, piano and organ.

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 keyboards

It is possible to undertake studies in the following specialisms through our Historical Performance Faculty:

  • Harpsichord
  • Fortepiano
  • Clavichord

Visit Historical Performance

Second study

Most undergraduates on the BMus course and postgraduates studying for MPerf, MComp, MMus(Perf) or MMus(Comp) 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 expect at audition

What to bring

In most cases you only need to bring music for yourself and, if you are applying for collaborative piano, music for your soloist.

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 soloist (if applicable) and the audition panel. As our courses are taught in English we expect you to be able to communicate in English at your audition.

Keyboard auditions in London

Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, any applicant will be allowed to submit a video audition for courses due to commence in 2022. All candidates will automatically be considered for scholarships on the basis of their audition, including those who audition by video.

Find out more

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.

Keyboard 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. Typical questions asked may include:

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

In some cases you may also be asked to perform scales, arpeggios or other technical exercises.

Due to the volume of applicants, there is a two-phase process for piano and contemporary piano candidates auditioning in London during the main November–December audition period. The panel will inform you whether you need to perform again for a second panel. Candidates who are referred to the second panel should not assume they are definitely being offered a place. Similarly, if you are not referred, please do not assume you have been unsuccessful.

Second panel auditions take place on the same day, normally within an hour or two of the first audition, although you may have to wait a little longer if there is a high number of referrals.

Auditions for collaborative piano and organ consist of a single panel.

Warm-up time

Pianists have 20 minutes of warm-up time. We are not able to provide practice rooms for you to use before this.

Organists have 40 minutes of warm-up time and will be notified of their warm-up timeslot via UCAS Conservatoires. An RCM steward will be available to page turn and assist with regisistration for organists.

If you are auditioning for collaborative piano we recommend bringing your own soloist and that you work closely with them in preparation for your audition. The RCM can provide a soloist for you on the day of your audition, but not beforehand. If you require an RCM soloist you must ensure you prepare the specified repertoire (see above).

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.

Keyboard auditions overseas

Overseas auditions for 2022 entry

We are planning on holding auditions for most principal studies at our New York audition venue but the RCM will not be auditioning at any of our other overseas venues for 2022 entry, due to the current situation. The safety of our audition candidates is paramount and the RCM has made this decision in response to the latest guidance from the UK Government and the authorities in the audition locations. Applicants who would have auditioned at our overseas venues are invited to submit a video audition.

Find out more

Please note, we are not able to provide RCM soloists at our overseas audition venues. If you are auditioning for collaborative piano overseas please ensure you arrange your own soloist.

Audition by video

Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, any applicant will be allowed to submit a video audition for courses due to commence in 2022. Candidates auditioning by video will automatically be considered for scholarship. This applies to all Principal Study specialisms, excluding final round conducting auditions, which we hope will still take place in person in the spring if government guidance allows.

Your video audition should consist of a video recording lasting approximately 20 minutes. Taught postgraduate piano and contemporary piano applicants need to record and submit a varied programme of 50 minutes which includes an advanced étude. Video audition submissions may include more than one file from different performances. Audio only recordings will not be accepted.

The application deadline for September 2022 entry has now passed. The deadline was 1 October 2021. 

Late applications may still be possible. Please contact admissions@rcm.ac.uk before submitting a late application.

Videos must be submitted to the RCM by 29 October 2021.

More information about auditioning by recording

Scholarships

Every student who applies for a place on one of the RCM's performance or composition courses commencing in 2022 will be considered for scholarship, whether you have applied by video or attended an audition or interview in person.

There is no separate application process.

Eligibility for scholarships is based on merit, which is determined by performance at audition (or by submission of video) or the strength of portfolio and interview for composers.

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

Admissions and general audition enquiries

admissions@rcm.ac.uk