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Instrumental Performance - MMus / PgCert / PgDip

Advance your skills as a performer with a postgraduate course in Instrumental Performance at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  

 

Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

  • School Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

Advance your skills as a performer with a postgraduate course in Instrumental Performance at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Whether you're a recent graduate or returning to study after a break, our postgraduate courses in Instrumental Performance provide you with advanced-level training in your principal study area, preparing you for a solo, chamber or orchestral career, alongside excellent opportunities to develop other skills relevant to a future career in the music profession. 

These courses are open to students pursuing orchestral instruments, keyboard instruments and other solo instruments such as recorder, guitar and saxophone. There is also a Chamber Music route for string ensembles.

We also offer a 'multi-instrument' specialism for woodwind players who do not wish to follow the traditional orchestral route, but would prefer to pursue a career as a multi-instrumentalist in musical theatre. All principal study woodwinds instruments welcome but aimed primarily at saxophone, flute and clarinet players, this course will train multi-instrumentalists to a professional level.  If you are interested in auditioning for this, please make direct email contact with Jenni Phillips, Head of Woodwind.

You'll receive specialist tuition from leading UK and internationally renowned performers and teachers. In addition, you'll enjoy regular performance opportunities, both within Departments and in concerts, as well as having the chance to participate in masterclasses led by distinguished guest artists. 

You'll have full access to our superb £57 million facilities, including our Concert Hall, 150-seat Recital Hall, our black box performance space known as The Lab, and more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops; all acoustically designed to provide a music-making environment that is world class.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

  • Regular individual tuition in your Principal Study area from leading UK and internationally renowned performers and teachers. 
  • Regular departmental activities and access to masterclasses with distinguished visiting guest artists
  • Frequent chances to perform, including solo, chamber and orchestral opportunities
  • In PgDip and MMus, a core career development module designed to get you thinking about your future professional plans. 
  • In PgDip and MMus, the flexibility to choose from a broad menu of Professional Development modules designed to help you work towards achieving your personal career aspirations.
  • In MMus, a core module designed to develop your skills as a researcher or informed practitioner.
  • In PgCert, the ability to focus wholly on the Principal Study area.
  • The possibility of transferring between PgCert, PgDip and/or MMus (as appropriate) once you have begun your studies (but before completion of your original course). 
Edward-Leung-piano

I would not be where I am today in my career without the support of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. I benefitted immensely from my Principal Study tutor, but I also had the opportunity to work with tutors from the Strings and Vocal departments for chamber music and lieder coaching. I believe the openness and collaborative atmosphere is what makes the Conservatoire unique. I have also had many high-profile performance opportunities throughout the United Kingdom, thus broadening my professional network and setting up my performance career.

Edward Leung, piano

Why Choose Us?

At Royal Birmingham Conservatoire we provide a friendly and supportive environment in which you can pursue your postgraduate studies. This is a time when you need to think particularly carefully and strategically about the direction of your developing career as a musician. We therefore encourage you to be ambitious in pursuing your aspirations, and endeavour to provide you with the flexibility to mould your course to your individual needs, both within your Principal Study area and – for PgDip and MMus students – in complementary modules.

Similar Courses

Entry Requirements

MMus/PgDip/PgCert
Essential

UK students should normally hold an honours degree, ideally but not necessarily in Music.

Non-UK students should hold a Bachelor's degree or a similar degree-equivalent diploma, ideally but not necessarily in Music.

Audition requirements

All applicants for this course will be auditioned.

Home student auditions will be scheduled live in Birmingham.

EU/international students outside the UK at the time of application may submit a recording or may travel to one of our International Audition Centres.

Most Instrumental Performance candidates will be asked to present a varied programme of about 15 minutes duration.

Depending on your area of study, you may be required to include orchestral excerpts, an extended piece and/or specified material.

Applicants for the string chamber route must audition as an ensemble and individually.

Full details of audition requirements are available from the Admissions Team.

For full details, audition requirements and audition advice, please visit the Music Auditions section of the Conservatoire website.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MMus

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 30 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £12,430 per year
  • Apply via UCAS

Award: PgCert

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: MMus

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 30 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
  • £26,510 per year
  • Apply via UCAS

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the options selected.

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

Whilst access to large instruments (e.g. pianos) is provided, it is assumed that all students will have their own "portable" instrument (e.g. violin, flute, tuba, etc.) with them.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

DBS Certificate (optional)

You will need to cover the cost of a DBS Certificate should you need one for the optional pedagogy modules.

Instrument maintenance (optional)

Musicians are expected to cover day to day costs relating to their Principal Study discipline, e.g. keeping your instrument in good working order, replacing consumables, e.g. strings/reeds. It may also be necessary to purchase software or scores, for example.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

*Professional Placement option

The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.

This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.

You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.

Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

For any candidates who demonstrate an exceptional level of achievement in their audition, an audition panel may identify them as a potential contender for our 12-month MMus, with credit for advanced standing. If the candidate expresses interest in pursuing this option, this will trigger a follow-up interview to explore their suitability further. However, it is not possible to apply for direct entry to this 12-month programme. 

Completing your application

Further information on writing your personal statement can be found on the UCAS Conservatoires website.

Course in Depth

PG Cert

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete one of the following CORE modules (totalling 60 credits):

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

PG Dip

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete the following CORE module (totalling 60 credits):

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 20 credits):

Members of the music profession require not only high-level specialist skills but also the ability to target those skills strategically to different circumstances. This module focuses on a range of different aspects of a musician’s professional development that directly relate to the music industry and their preparation for it: from self-promotion and self-management, to funding and wellbeing. It is thus central to a programme which aims to prepare you for a career as a musician in the 21st century.

It requires you, near the beginning of your postgraduate studies, to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on your professional aspirations, and to formulate a plan that helps you stand the best chance of achieving your goals. Weekly workshops, delivered by internal staff and external professionals, will focus on the practicalities of a career in music, providing you with a better insight into the industry you will be entering, as well as encouraging you to be self-reflective about your own personal and professional development needs.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Each module listed is worth 20 credits.

Conservatoire based

  • Concepts in Musicology
  • Contemporary Music Concepts and Practice
  • Creative Interactive Music Technology Performance
  • Critical Editing Techniques
  • Documentation
  • Experimental Performance in Context(s)
  • Historical Instrument Performance
  • Historical Performance Practice
  • Independent Scholarship in Music
  • Music and Ideas
  • Music Technology Contexts
  • Orchestration
  • Performing and Producing in the Studio
  • Professional Music Criticism
  • Self-Promotion Project
  • Teaching Matters: Principles and Practice
  • Work Placement
  • Writing Music for Media
  • Conference Paper
  • Preparation for Research
  • Music, Community and Wellbeing (BMus module)

School of Art based

  • Art and Ecologies
  • Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
  • Discourses in Art and Design
  • Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
  • Queer Strategies in Practice
  • Small Arts Business Set Up
  • Social Practice in the Visual Arts

School of Media based

  • Live Events and Festival Management
  • Social Media as Culture and Practice

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

MMus

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete THREE CORE modules (totalling 140 credits):

Members of the music profession require not only high-level specialist skills but also the ability to target those skills strategically to different circumstances. This module focuses on a range of different aspects of a musician’s professional development that directly relate to the music industry and their preparation for it: from self-promotion and self-management, to funding and wellbeing. It is thus central to a programme which aims to prepare you for a career as a musician in the 21st century.

It requires you, near the beginning of your postgraduate studies, to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on your professional aspirations, and to formulate a plan that helps you stand the best chance of achieving your goals. Weekly workshops, delivered by internal staff and external professionals, will focus on the practicalities of a career in music, providing you with a better insight into the industry you will be entering, as well as encouraging you to be self-reflective about your own personal and professional development needs.

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

As a postgraduate instrumentalist or singer, the Principal Study 1: Instrumental/Vocal Performance module enables you to advance your training in your specialist area and it is thus at the heart of your conservatoire studies. As the focus of this module is entirely on your own continued development as a performer, you will spend considerable time developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, expanding your knowledge of the repertoire, refining your platform manner and presentation skills, and, in some cases, advancing your collaborative performance skills.

Your work in this module is supported by one-to-one tuition and a variety of related activities in your Principal Study area, including performance classes, masterclasses and department-specific workshops (e.g. languages and movement for singers, reed-making for wind players, and so on). You will necessarily devote a considerable amount of time to individual practice.

In order to complete this course, a student must successfully complete at least 100 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules:

  • THREE Professional Development modules (20 credits each), and

  • ONE MMus optional module (40 credits)

Professional Development modules (20 credits each)

Conservatoire based

  • Concepts in Musicology
  • Contemporary Music Concepts and Practice
  • Creative Interactive Music Technology Performance
  • Critical Editing Techniques
  • Documentation
  • Experimental Performance in Context(s)
  • Historical Instrument Performance
  • Historical Performance Practice
  • Independent Scholarship in Music
  • Music and Ideas
  • Music Technology Contexts
  • Orchestration
  • Performing and Producing in the Studio
  • Professional Music Criticism
  • Self-Promotion Project
  • Teaching Matters: Principles and Practice
  • Work Placement
  • Writing Music for Media
  • Conference Paper
  • Preparation for Research
  • Music, Community and Wellbeing (BMus module)

School of Art based

  • Art and Ecologies
  • Contemporary Philosophy and Aesthetics
  • Discourses in Art and Design
  • Models and Methods of Curatorial Practice
  • Queer Strategies in Practice
  • Small Arts Business Set Up
  • Social Practice in the Visual Arts

School of Media based

  • Live Events and Festival Management
  • Social Media as Culture and Practice

MMus optional modules (40 credits each)

  • Research Project
  • Critical Edition
  • Lecture-Recital
  • The Reflective Practioner
    • There are two pathways through this module: 1. Professional Placement, and 2. Creative Interdisciplinary Artist.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Course structure

Whichever course you choose, work in the Principal Study area – both individual tuition and Departmental activity – lies at its heart.

The content of the Principal Study modules varies according to the instrument. As the exit point for PgCert and PgDip, Principal Study 1 modules are generally more prescriptive than Principal Study 2 modules (MMus only); however, both allow scope for you to explore repertoire of your own choice and to develop a specialist area if you wish.

The possibilities are too numerous to list here, but, for example, pianists may elect to combine solo and collaborative piano, or to specialise in one of the other; orchestral instrumentalists have the opportunity to focus on orchestral preparation; and there are opportunities for students to concentrate on a particular repertory (e.g. contemporary). More details are available upon request.

Preparation for the Principal Study Project modules is supported by individual specialist tuition, as well as by departmental activities throughout the course.

If you are a MMus or PgDip student you will take a Career Development module, which will require you, near the beginning of your course, to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on your professional aspirations, and to formulate a plan that helps you stand the best chance of achieving your goals. You will also choose, in addition, some Professional Development Options from a varied list. The following gives an indication the kind of optional modules which may be offered in a given year, including some offered by Birmingham City University’s Schools of Art and Media (note, not all will run every year).

School of Media based
  • Live Events and Festival Management
  • Social Media as Culture and Practice

MMus students will additionally choose a 40-credit option from one of two categories: ‘The Emerging Researcher’ or ‘The Reflective Practitioner’.

Part-time options

There is some room for negotiation in how the course unfolds for a part-time MMus student over three years, or in the case of part-time PgDip students, over two years.

Employability

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

International Students

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has a growing community of international students from across the world.

We appreciate the challenges of moving to a new country to live and study and aim to be as supportive as possible.

Aside from being friendly and welcoming, we have various support mechanisms in place to help you settle in as an international student, including:

  • An international students' 'orientation week', including a special Conservatoire welcome event
  • A dedicated international student admissions administrator
  • A full-time staff member employed as International Student Support Programme Director (who speaks Mandarin)
  • A mentoring system in which you, as a new postgraduate international student, are mentored by continuing postgraduate international students who will be supporting you both pastorally and academically though weekly workshops
  • Additional supporting classes for international students that are particularly designed to help you further develop your English reading, speaking and comprehension skills
  • Additional academic skills support provided by expert tutors from the BCU's Centre for Academic Success

Further information for prospective international students is available on the University's international pages.

Facilities and Staff

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s £57 million music building opened in September 2017, and is located on Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus in the Eastside ‘learning quarter’ of the city.

This brand new music facility include five public performance venues – a 500 seat Concert Hall, 150 seat Recital Hall, Organ Studio, Eastside Jazz Club and the experimental black box performance venue known as The Lab. As well as these stunning performance venues, we have nearly 100 practice spaces; including 70 small practice rooms and larger ensemble rooms and workshops.

Our new home is the first conservatoire built in the digital age, and as such it has been vital to ensure that the technical infrastructure installed is on par with any advanced commercial facility. We have seven recording studios, a mastering suite, a distance learning hub, and all of our performance venues feature high specification audio-visual equipment that enables interconnectivity and advanced functionality throughout the building.

These impressive modern facilities guarantee that we are excel in our unique dual purpose of providing the highest standard of music education deserved by our students, as well as meeting our role as a concert and performance venue for the people of Birmingham; taking our place in the vibrant cultural landscape of the UK’s second city.

Our staff

Luan Shaw

Interim Vice Principal, Music (Learning and Teaching) and Director of Postgraduate Studies

Luan is Director of Postgraduate Studies at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where she has taught since 2011. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and was made an Honorary Member of RBC in 2001. In her former role as RBC’s first Head of Pedagogy (2011-2018), she significantly expanded provision for instrumental teacher education across the RBC curriculum. Luan is passionate about helping students to build their portfolio careers and her doctoral research focuses on facilitating the transition from student to professional through instrumental teacher education in conservatoires.

More about Luan