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Jazz - BMus

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The launch of our Eastside Jazz Club has helped consolidate the integral role that Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has to play in a major UK city that enjoys a thriving jazz scene. While Birmingham’s jazz scene has been established over many years, our bespoke venue promises an exciting future for Jazz in the city....

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

Overview

The launch of our Eastside Jazz Club has helped consolidate the integral role that Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has to play in a major UK city that enjoys a thriving jazz scene. While Birmingham’s jazz scene has been established over many years, our bespoke venue promises an exciting future for Jazz in the city.

Our Jazz Department is based around the Club, where student musicians share a platform and get invaluable side-by-side performance experience with the best on the scene, whom we welcome to our stage on a regular basis.

This course meets with the needs of the modern jazz performer – it places emphasis on practical work, with the majority of time dedicated to one-to-one lessons, small group coaching and private practice. You'll study modules that have been specifically and skilfully designed for jazz musicians, and as part of your learning we encourage you to explore in depth the relationship between improvisation and composition, which is central to developing your individual voice. You will graduate as a versatile, professional musician who is knowledgeable about the entrepreneurial opportunities available to you, and aware of the commercial realities for musicians joining today’s UK jazz scene as a portfolio musician.

Delivered by performers, band leaders and composers who enhance their teaching with professional experience, insights and connections, the course hones both your performance and professional awareness. 

With individual specialist tuition throughout all four years of the course you will get the individual attention you need to prepare for a successful career in the music profession.

As well as having our own club that has taken its place on Birmingham’s vibrant jazz scene, our students enjoy professional experience opportunities with external gigs that familiarise them with the industry – for example through our partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival – one of many ways we prepare you for the future.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

The BMus (Hons) Jazz course is a specialist course for performers in jazz. Its main aim is to prepare students for a career in the music profession in the field of jazz. At the heart of our course's philosophy is the ideal of the informed musician; someone who is able to combine both advanced skills and musical knowledge in the advancement of their musical career. The BMus (Hons) Jazz course therefore aims to develop the specialist skills, the theoretical, historical and practice-based knowledge and to encourage the individual creativity required for you to become an independent learner, a critical thinker and a reflective practitioner. 

You will be taught by performers, band leaders and composers, who are ideally placed to share their professional experience, insights and connections. With their guidance, you will hone both your performance skills and your professional awareness. 

My musical approach is greatly indebted to the time I spent studying on the jazz course. Simply being around like-minded people in a culture of practice and study, with guidance from musicians I greatly respected, was extremely beneficial.

Tom Chapman

Why Choose Us?

  • 93.8% of students are satisfied with the learning opportunities on this course (National Student Survey 2021).
  • You will work with some of the greatest musicians and study on modules that have been specifically and skilfully designed for jazz musicians.
  • Our performance health programme — including performance coaching, physiotherapy, movement workshops and Alexander technique classes — allows students to develop as confident and effective performers.
  • You will experience significantly more one-to-one tuition time than on a typical academic university music course – or indeed any other conservatoire courses.
  • We are proud to be a festival partner of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival; a partnership that gives our students an insight into how festivals are run, and some invaluable performance opportunities.
  • Our Jazz course has a partnership with Jazzlines, a leading jazz promoter and key contact for international masterclasses.
  • Our course prepares you for a portfolio career on the contemporary music scene, with performance at its core. It will also give you transferrable skills, including team-working, adaptability, self-promotion, time management and critical thinking.
  • You will have full access to our superb £57 million facilities. These include our wonderful performance spaces: the 500-seat Bradshaw Concert Hall, the 150-seat Recital Hall, our black-box performance space known as “The Lab”, the Organ Studio, and our fabulous Eastside Jazz Club. We’ve not even mentioned our seven recording studios and more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops in addition; all acoustically designed to provide a music-making environment that is absolutely world-class.
  • We have countless partnerships and long-established professional relationships with organisations including the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Welsh National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • In 2018/19 RBC musicians collectively earned over £43,000 by being hired to play at events through our Book a Musician service.

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Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us on campus at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for an insight into life as a Conservatoire student.

Next Open Day: Thursday 1 December 2022

Register your interest

Entry Requirements

For insurance purposes, you must be at least 18 years of age by 1 September in the year of enrolment. Normally, you should satisfy one of the following:

Essential Requirements

Applications for this course are made via UCAS Conservatoires

Entry to the BMus (Hons) is by audition only. Applicants will be required to demonstrate general musical knowledge and musicianship skills, including harmony and aural. Audition requirements differ per instrument/specialism applied for.

Composition - Composers must send a portfolio of at least three compositions and a high-quality recording of at least one of these works at least two weeks before their audition date.

LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS
GCSE
  • Minimum of 5 GCSE’s at grade C/4 or above one of which MUST include English Language
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details
Scottish National 5
  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
IELTS 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.
Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • EE / 32 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 3 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.
AS and AS VCE Considered with a maximum of 2 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 32 pts
Access to HE Diploma
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
PPP
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media) Pass
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 8 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • Considered with a maximum of 2 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 32 pts
International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers) Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 32 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma PPP
Scottish Advanced Higher
  • Achieve a minimum of 32 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).
T-Levels Pass overall (D or E on the core)
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design Pass overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology Pass overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts Pass overall
Audition Requirements
Essential

You will be required to perform two contrasting pieces with a rhythm section (provided), one of which must be chosen from a list of standards, and one of their own choice.

You will also be asked to perform a short transcribed solo (drummers and vocalists excepted) and sight-read.

Pianists, bassists and drummers audition by taking their place in the rhythm trio.

Drummers will be asked to play through the chord changes of any of the listed standards at the piano.

Drummers must also take part in an interactive test, joining in with various grooves indicated by the piano and bass.

All candidates will be interviewed at audition.

Full details of our audition requirements can be found here.

English Language Requirements

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BMus

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BMus

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

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 materials selected.

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

Whilst access to large instruments (e.g. pianos, drum kits) is provided, it is assumed that all students will have their own "portable" instrument (e.g. saxophone, trombone, 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.

The deadline for on-time applications is normally on or around 1 October in the year prior to entry, followed by auditions in November (for those attending an audition in Birmingham). If you apply between 1 October and 4 January, you may be eligible for our late auditions in February, if places are still available. For detailed information, see our how to apply section.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

  • Course choice - Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
  • Career plans - If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
  • Work experience - Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
  • School or college experience - Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
  • Non-accredited skills or achievement - eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Worried about Personal Statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Course in Depth

Year one

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Year two

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

Year three

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 80 credits):

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

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

Year four

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 120 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

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

Download course specification

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Course Structure

We tutor you in several different areas of musicianship. With individual specialist tuition throughout all four years of the course you will get the individual attention you need to prepare for a successful career in the music profession.

With the help of your tutor, you will develop a productive practice regime and lay down a foundation for technical skills and  improvisation processes.

Using a typical group of two or three frontline instruments, plus a rhythm section, you will receive intensive weekly coaching in your core repertoire. You will then go on to run your own small group, using your choice of repertoire and performers.

We encourage you to explore in depth the relationship between improvisation and composition, which is central to developing an individual voice.

You will also work towards a major project of your own devising, such as a recording, performance or  dissertation. This will need to reflect your specialist interests and career aims.

You can look forward to masterclasses and workshops in our own Eastside Jazz Club led by respected artists from the jazz scene.

Conservatoire’s memberships

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a member of Conservatoire’s UK (CUK) and Association Européene des Conservatoires (AEC).

CUK is the voice of Conservatoire education in the UK.  It represents the collective views of nine UK conservatoires and aims to develop the best training and education in the performing arts.

The AEC is a European cultural and educational network, which looks after the interests of institutions concerned with training students for the music profession.


Student stories

Tom Dunnett

Tom moved to London shortly after he graduated from the BMus Jazz course at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2013. He is now a freelance trombonist in London and holds a chair in the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and a show on the West End. Other work includes big bands, jazz projects and recordings, and some light classical concerts. He also has a sextet and a quartet which he writes for as an ongoing project with views to finding gigs along with recording and performing original music.

Employability

Employment Opportunities

One of the central aims of the course is to launch jazz performers into the music profession. You will have a chance to document your work as a jazz musician through a studio project in the third year. You will also design a major project in the fourth year around an area of professional practice of your choice.

As further professional development, you will look at contemporary role models in jazz performance, undertaking in-depth case studies of their careers. There are also classes providing advice on how to manage a freelance portfolio career in music, covering topics such as personal finance and tax, publicity and events promotion, applications to funding bodies, and bidding for commissions.

Placements

We have a  number of musical partners including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan, Birmingham Music Service, Jazzlines, and Town Hall Symphony Hall, with whom opportunities to perform occur.

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

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Facilities & 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

Jeremy Price

Head of Jazz

Jeremy Price (born 1970) studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has since followed a career as a freelance trombonist and jazz educator. Jeremy has been Head of Jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire since the Jazz Department was established in 1999 and wrote the Conservatoire's first ever BMus (Hons) Jazz...

More about Jeremy

John O’Gallagher

Senior Lecturer

John O’Gallagher is a professional saxophonist, educator, and researcher from Brooklyn, New York. During his performing career he has appeared at numerous international jazz venues and festivals, and additionally on radio programs broadcast by BBC-3, RSI-Switzerland, and Radio France. The New York Times has described him as “an alto saxophonist of...

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Andrew Bain

Senior Lecturer in Jazz, First Study Drums, Ensemble Coaching, Rhythm Class Tutor

Andrew Bain is one of the leading performers and educators in the UK. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London and winner of the BBC Big Band Drummer, he has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer, John Taylor, Iain Dixon, Elliott Sharp, Mike Walker, Jason Rebello...

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John Turville

Jazz Piano Tutor

John Turville is one of the leading pianists and educators on the UK scene. A graduate of Cambridge and the Guildhall, he has since received numerous awards, including the MOJO #3 Jazz Album of the Year (2012), ‘Best Album’ in the Parliamentary Awards 2011, ‘Best Instrumentalist' in the 2010 London Jazz Awards, the 2009 Promoter’s Choice Award...

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Mark Hodgson

Jazz Double Bass Tutor

Born in Kendal, Cumbria and coming from a musical family Mark originally played electric bass in funk and fusion bands, but was inspired to take up the Double Bass after seeing The Oscar Peterson Trio featuring Ray Brown. In 1995 he moved to London to study Double Bass and Electric Bass at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1999 Mark left...

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