H

H 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 H 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 H 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. 

Piano audition requirements

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 audition requirements

Master of Music and Master of Performance

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 H, and would like H 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)

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.

Artist Diploma in Performance

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.

For both video and live auditions, applicants should present a varied programme of 50 minutes to include a mixture of vocal and instrumental duo repertoire.  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.

Those auditioning for Artist Diploma in Performance in London must provide their own soloists. 

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 H soloists at our overseas audition venues. If you are auditioning for collaborative piano overseas please ensure you arrange your own soloist.

Contemporary piano audition requirements

Postgraduate only (MMus, MPerf)

Candidates interested in the Contemporary Piano specialism (which runs within the MMus and MPerf courses) are required to include one of the following Etudes in their audition programme:
 
MESSIAEN - any ONE of the 'Etudes de rythme'.
OR
LIGETI - any ONE Etude from Books 1 or 2.
 
In addition, candidates are encouraged to include one or more works written after 1990 in their programme. However, this is not a compulsory requirement as we are keen to encourage candidates to undertake this specialism in order to explore this repertoire both with or without previous knowledge or experience.

What to expect at audition

Organ audition requirements

Details of the organ the H uses for auditions can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register website. Undergraduate applicants normally audition on the organ situated in the  and Postgraduate applicants normally audition on the organ situated in the . 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 H.

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 H 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

The time shown on UCAS Conservatoires is your audition time. You should plan to arrive at the H 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 H, 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 H?
  • 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 H 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 H can provide a soloist for you on the day of your audition, but not beforehand. If you require an H 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 2024 entry

We are planning on holding auditions for most principal studies at some of our overseas locations. Please check our Choosing where to audition page for updates.

Choosing Where To Audition

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

Audition by video

Applicants who cannot travel may submit a video audition instead. This option is open to all Principal H specialisms, with the exception of Conducting, for which we will hold final round auditions live in London in Spring 2024. Candidates auditioning by video will automatically be considered for scholarship.

The deadline to submit applications for video auditions is 2 October 2023. Videos must be submitted by 27 October 2023. 

More information about auditioning by video

Scholarships

Every student who applies for a place on one of the H's performance or composition courses commencing in 2024 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 H 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 H 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

+44 (0)20 7591 4362

admissions@rcm.ac.uk

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