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Orchestral Performance (Strings) - MMus / PgDip

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Developed in partnership with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), our MMus and PgDip courses in Orchestral Performance are for advanced level string players considering professional orchestral auditions and on the brink of a professional career....

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

Overview

Developed in partnership with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), our MMus and PgDip courses in Orchestral Performance are for advanced level string players considering professional orchestral auditions and on the brink of a professional career. 

In addition to one-to-one specialist tuition, you will spend a significant amount of rehearsal time in the CBSO alongside one or more dedicated host players who will act as mentors. You may also be offered opportunities to play at the back of the section to gain further experience. In addition to developing your technical facility, musicianship, interpretative skills and stylistic awareness, you will expand your knowledge of orchestral repertoire, learn how to prepare for rehearsal in the most efficient way, develop strategies which will help you to integrate within your section, and build confidence in preparing for orchestral auditions.

You will also participate in additional performance activities within the Conservatoire’s String Department and the wider Conservatoire, including performance classes, masterclasses, orchestra and chamber music.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.

Both PgDip and MMus courses also provide excellent opportunities for you to develop other skills relevant to a future career in the music profession.

A separate postgraduate pathway is available for Instrumental Performers, which includes both solo and chamber music routes for string players (the latter for existing ensembles). 

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

  • Specialist individual tuition.
  • One or two dedicated CBSO mentors.
  • Regular opportunities to rehearse within the CBSO.
  • Access to a range of departmental activities and to masterclasses with distinguished visiting guest artists within the Conservatoire. 
  • Frequent chances to perform within the Conservatoire, including solo, chamber and orchestral opportunities. 
  • A core career development module designed to get your thinking about your future professional plans. 
  • 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 researchers or informed practitioner. 
  • The possibility of transferring from PgDip to MMus once you have begun your studies (but before completion of the PgDip). 

Why Choose Us?

The opportunity to learn while playing alongside professional players in one of the UK’s leading orchestras is clearly an extremely valuable one. Furthermore, 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 in complementary modules.

Similar Courses

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

MMus/PgDip
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

Entry level is very high and auditions will be conducted by Section Leaders from CBSO and the Head of Strings at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Home student auditions will be scheduled live in Birmingham, while special arrangements will be made for EU/international students unable to travel to the UK.

You will present an extended piece such as the first movement of a concerto, play specific orchestral excerpts, and undertake some sight-reading.

Further details about the audition will be supplied once we have received an application.

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.

International Students

Entry requirements here

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: MMus

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • 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: MMus

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

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)

This course requires the purchase of specialist equipment, including your own instrument.

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. However, it is not possible to apply for direct entry to the Professional Placement version of the course since the decision to transfer may only be taken after consultation with your course tutors and after successfully completing at least 120 credits.

Completing a 20-week Professional Placement towards the end of your Masters degree enables you to further 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.

Please note that tuition fees are payable during your placement period.

Completing your application

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

Course in Depth

PG Dip

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

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

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 40 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.

MMus

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

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)

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.

Both Principal Study modules (PgDip students take one, MMus students take two) comprise two parts: an orchestral audition (there are different requirements for each module), and an assessment of your work in the orchestra. Preparation for these modules is supported by your individual tuition and mentoring sessions, as well as by your time in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and by additional experience you derive from taking part in Conservatoire departmental activities.

The Career Development module 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):

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

Part-time options

While we do not offer the MMus part-time, there is some room for negotiation in how the course unfolds for a part-time PgDip student 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

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 & 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

Dr Louise Lansdown

Head of Strings

Louise Lansdown was appointed Head of Strings at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012, after holding the position of Senior Lecturer in the School of Strings at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 2001-2012. Louise has past viola students working in orchestras, chamber music groups and in teaching positions across the world....

More about Louise

Dr Luan Shaw

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

Dr Luan Shaw is Interim Vice Principal, Music (Learning and Teaching), and 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...

More about Luan