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Study options & audition requirements

Historical flautist in Ziff practice pods
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.

Harpsichord

Undergraduate & postgraduate

Applicants should prepare:

  • A varied programme of 20 minutes to include two or three contrasting pieces that show a command of both 17th- and 18th-century repertoire.
  • The programme must include one major work by JS Bach (eg a prelude, a toccata, a fugue or movements from a suite).
  • Applicants may also perform a contemporary work.

The audition panel will choose around 15 minutes for performance in audition. You will also be given short sight reading and figured bass tests.

What to expect at audition

Fortepiano

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare both of the following:

  • CPE Bach Fantasia no 1 in F major or no 3 in C major from Clavier-Sonaten nebst einigen Rondos fürs Forte-Piano für Kenner und Liebhaber
  • The first movement of a substantial sonata by Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven (up to op 31 only)

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • JN Hummel Sonata in F minor op 20 (first movement, allegro moderato)
  • A contrasting lyrical slow movement of a substantial sonata by Haydn, Mozart or one of their contemporaries that demonstrates historically aware ornamentation and extemporisation skills

What to expect at audition

Historical violin

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • JS Bach Partita no 2 (Allemanda)
  • A 17th-century sonata by either Cima, Fontana, Uccellini or Castello
  • Corelli Sonata op 5 no 8 (Preludio, Sarabanda and Giga)

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • JS Bach Violin Sonata no 1 in G minor (Adagio)
  • Muffat movements from Sonata
  • Corelli op 5 no 5 (Adagio with own ornamentation and Vivace)

What to expect at audition

Historical viola

Undergraduate & postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • JS Bach Cello suite nos 1-4, Prelude
  • First movement of a Galante-style sonata (eg CPE Bach, Brunetti, Giardini, etc)
  • Campagnoli any Caprice of your own choosing

What to expect at audition

Historical cello

Undergraduate & postgraduate

Applicants should prepare one piece from each of the three lists below:

Solo

  • Movements from Bach Suites 1-5
  • Ricercari by Gabrielli, or Degli Antonii
  • Sonatas by Galli (Trattenimento musicale)

Sonatas with basso continuo (cello, harpsichord or piano)

  • Vivaldi 9 sonatas
  • Geminiani op 5
  • Barriere op 1 and 2
  • JCF Bach A major
  • Berteau Sonata in G (used to be called 'Sammartini G major')

Concertos

  • Vivaldi (eg  G minor RV 416)
  • Leonardo Leo F minor
  • CPE Bach A major
  • Stamitz C major (no 3)

What to expect at audition

Historical bass

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare:

  • A complete transcribed Baroque cello sonata (eg by Vivaldi or Telemann)

Plus two orchestral excerpts:

  • JS Bach St John Passion, no 24 'Eilt, ihr'
  • Haydn Symphony no 6 'Le Matin' (solo from the trio)

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • A complete transcribed Baroque cello sonata
  • First movement from a Classical concerto (performed in either Viennese or orchestral tunings)

What to expect at audition

Viola da gamba

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Christopher Simpson Prelude in D major (Division viol page 53) 
  • GP Telemann Fantasia for solo viola da gamba no 6 in G major
  • One short free choice piece

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • GP Telemann Fantasia for solo viola da gamba no 10 in E major 
  • Antoine Forqueray La Clement (no repeats) 
  • One short free choice piece

What to expect at audition 

Lute

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • A fantasia by John Dowland
  • Two contrasting pieces

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Three contrasting pieces, including one dance movement and one contrapuntal piece

The audition can be performed on either Renaissance or Baroque lute.

What to expect at audition

Recorder

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Frans Brüggen Five studies for finger control (not no 4) or Linde Recorder Virtuoso Solo Pieces
  • Telemann Twelve Fantasies (complete) or two contrasting movements from a Baroque sonata
  • Any piece or excerpt (total length: 3-4 minutes) composed before 1700 or after 1900

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following: 

  • Kees Boeke 3 Studies or Frans Brüggen Five studies for finger control (no 2 or 3)
  • A free programme with a duration of 7-9 minutes featuring two stylistically contrasting compositions (not necessarily complete)

What to expect at audition

Historical flute

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Telemann Methodical Sonata (own choice, first and second movements)
  • Hotteterre Suite in E minor (Premier Livre, Quatriéme Suitte, three movements)

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Quantz Sonata in B minor no 267 QV 1:169 or Quantz Sonata in A major no 351 QV 1:143 (two movements)
  • Couperin Concert Royal no 2 in D (two or three movements depending on timing)

What to expect at audition

Historical oboe

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare two movements from one of the following:

  • Geminiani Sonata in E minor
  • Handel Sonata (own choice)
  • Vincent Sonata in A minor

Plus:

  • JS Bach Sinfonia from Cantata 156 

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Two contrasting movements from Couperin Concerts Royaux or Les Gout-reunis
  • Two movements from a Sonata by Handel, Vincent or Sammartini
  • A Bach Aria of own choice

What to expect at audition

Historical clarinet

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Xavier Lefèvre Sonata no 2 – from Five Sonatas ed John Davies and Paul Harris, OUP
  • John Mahon Clarinet Concerto no 2 (second movement) – keyboard reduction ed Elaine Thomas, Novello

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Anton Stadler Three Caprices for solo clarinet, no 1 – ed Höly, Kunzelmann
  • John Mahon Clarinet Concerto no 2 (first movement, without cadenza) – keyboard reduction ed Elaine Thomas, Novello

What to expect at audition

Historical bassoon

Undergraduate & postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • One caprice by Braun or Ozi
  • One sonata by Galliard or Merci

What to expect at audition

Natural horn

Undergraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Haydn Concerto no 1 in D (first movement) or Concerto no 2 in D (first movement) – also known as Michael Haydn Concerto à 5
  • Mozart Concerto in E flat K495 (first movement) or Concerto in E flat K447 (first movement)
  • Gallay Study no 1 from 12 Studies op 57

Postgraduate

Applicants should prepare all of the following:

  • Gallay Caprice no 1 from 12 Caprices
  • De Krufft Sonata in E (third movement) or Ries Sonata in F (third movement)
  • Saint-Saëns Romance in E

What to expect at audition

Related studies

Related study allows instrumentalists to receive tuition on an instrument closely associated with their principal study. Uniquely, students in other faculties are able to take Historical Performance specialisms as their related study.

Likewise, Historical Performance students can take one of our principal options as their related study, as long as a clear relationship exists. For example, a historical violinist can choose historical viola, or a recorder player could choose historical flute.

The following instruments are also available as related study options:

  • Clavichord
  • Continuo organ
  • Violone
  • Viola d’amore
  • Cello continuo
  • Historical harp
  • Archlute
  • Theorbo
  • Baroque guitar
  • Natural trumpet or cornett (as related study to modern trumpet)
  • Sackbuts

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.

Second study

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 succesful audition and the agreement of the relevant Head of Faculty. If you are interested in undertaking a second study please indicate this on your UCAS Conservatoires application. Auditions will be held once you commence your programme in September.

What to expect at audition

What to bring

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

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.

Scholarships

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

There is no separate application process.

Scholarships are awarded purely on merit based on 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
  • Applicants for any of our Experience Programmes.

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

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

Historical Performance auditions in London

You should plan to arrive at the RCM at least 30 minutes before your scheduled audition time. 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 Officer immediately so that, wherever possible, alternative arrangements can be made.

Lizzie Norton-Henry

Admissions Officer

+44 (0)20 7591 4362

lizzie.norton-henry@rcm.ac.uk

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

Historical Performance 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 may be required to take a sight-reading test and there will be a short interview.

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

We recommend bringing your own accompanist and that you work closely with them in preparation for your audition. The RCM can provide an accompanist for you on the day of your audition, but not beforehand.

If you require an RCM accompanist you do not need to tell us in advance.

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.

Historical Performance auditions overseas

Please note that we are unable to audition for lute or harpsichord at our overseas audition venues.

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.

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

We recommend bringing your own accompanist and that you work closely with them in preparation for your audition.

Historical Performance 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 may 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

Candidates auditioning by recording only will not receive an in-person audition. This option is only available to instrumentalists and vocalists.

Applications for 2018 will open in mid-July. The deadline for submitting applications through UCAS Conservatoires is 2 October 2017.

Restrictions

Auditioning by recording is only available to non-EU candidates.

Candidates for the following principal studies cannot audition by recording:

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

Candidates for the following courses cannot audition by recording:

  • Masters in Science in Performance Science
  • Artist Diploma in Opera
  • Any course that does not use UCAS Conservatoires for applications, including the Bachelor of Science in Physics and Music Performance

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.

For details of what to prepare, please refer to the audition requirements stipulated by the relevant faculty.

You should submit your recording online using the DecisionDesk platform. The information you upload to DecisionDesk 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 through DecisionDesk

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