Source: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Promoted by Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Symphonies of success: Pursuing a music qualification at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Scotland has it all. Stunning scenery with a rich history; cool, creative cities; an internationally acclaimed arts scene; and an education system that’s renowned the world over. It’s why almost 70,000 students from more than 180 countries choose to call it home.

Of those, students from more than 60 countries study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a global leader in performing arts education, consistently ranked in the world top ten of the QS World University Rankings.

“Musicians come from all over the globe to study at RCS,” says Dr Gordon Munro, Director of the School of Music. “They can excel in their individual art forms while being part of one of the most multi-disciplinary performing arts education environments in the world.”

Professor Andrea Gajic, Head of Strings, believes in creating an environment where students and staff feel a sense of ownership: “We encourage students to participate in shaping the department into an artistic community that responds to the aspirations of tomorrow’s musicians.

“Our teaching staff are professional musicians who work in Scotland and beyond and the department is integrated into the professional musical life of Glasgow.

Heather Nicoll, Head of Woodwind, says she’s proud of the woodwind department’s professional working ethos and its musical ambitions.

“The achievements of the department are built upon a real collaborative effort between our staff and our students. We frequently invite artists from across the globe to work alongside us in developing a diverse range of performance projects.

“Graduates all over the world are doing amazing things and so many say they feel their time at RCS shaped their careers in a very positive way.”

So, what’s it like to study here?  Elizabeth Gange from Baltimore, Parker Millspaugh, born and raised in Oklahoma City, violinist Angela Koo, from Singapore, and clarinettist Laura Hundert, from Boston, offer their insights into life at RCS.

What makes RCS ‘Like Nowhere Else’?

Elizabeth: It’s a very open environment, especially in the strings department. I’ve had the luxury of working with amazing teachers and they’re always very welcoming to the students. It’s collaborative, everybody knows everybody, and you get very good training here.

Laura: It’s a perfect size in terms of being small enough where you could have that sense of knowing everybody and being really friendly but then also large enough where you have a lot of people supporting you and being there to help challenge you and make you better.

Parker Milspaugh (an MMus Opera student at RCS), Source: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Parker Milspaugh (an MMus Opera student at RCS), Source: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Why did you want to study at RCS?

Elizabeth: I wanted to study at an international school, with people from all over the world. There’s a great environment at RCS and it helps that there are so many different disciplines. There’s a very intertwined curriculum where you can collaborate with actors, dancers, filmmakers and production artists.

Parker: I was so interested and shocked by the ways studying at RCS was so different than anything else in the States, especially within voice performance. I signed up, auditioned, interviewed, and each time I went through my process, I fell more in love with the school.

What did you enjoy about your studies?

Elizabeth: I participated in a lot of collaborative projects, including working with filmmaking and musical theatre students, which helped me grow outside of my comfort zone, and was a chance to get into a new kind of musical experience. RCS has a very friendly and supportive environment where everybody is there for each other. I’ve never felt under-appreciated or that I can’t say what I feel. I always have the freedom to do that, and my teachers listen to me, it’s a very open environment.

Angela Koo (BMus Strings student at RCS), Source: Royal Conservatoire of Music

Angela Koo (BMus Strings student at RCS), Source: Royal Conservatoire of Music

What’s it like studying in Glasgow/Scotland?

Angela: There are so many people from different nationalities here. People are really friendly, they just start talking to you, which was very surprising to me! I love the environment here.

Elizabeth: In America, when you’re in college or university, you don’t always have the opportunity to meet people from so many countries. It gives you a better perspective of art and it can influence you in ways that you wouldn’t expect.

Laura: Glasgow, especially, has such an amazing culture of young professional artists, whether that’s theatre people, visual artists, musicians … there’s a real sense of camaraderie and community which is really wonderful.

Parker: I love the accessibility – that you’re able to hop in a car or use public transport and in thirty minutes, you’re in a different world. You can go to the beach or be near Loch Lomond. In 45 minutes, you can go to Edinburgh, which feels completely different to Glasgow. It’s all so simple and easy to get to.

What would you say to others thinking about studying at RCS?

Angela: Try to come out of your comfort zone and don’t be scared of being yourself. Be honest about what you want to do and what brings you here. Remember your roots but bring your culture and share it and be open minded.

Elizabeth: Go for it! It’s a great environment and everyone is really nice. There are so many types of art here and there are endless possibilities … you can honestly do what you want. Whatever path you choose to take, you can immerse yourself fully in it and get the best training possible.

Laura: Just do it! It’s an amazing experience. For the who are a bit worried about coming abroad, Scotland is the perfect place to do it because everyone is super-friendly and willing to answer all your questions. Don’t be afraid because everyone here is so willing to just be there for you.

Want to find out more about studying music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland? Visit our website for information including how to apply, course structure, teaching staff and scholarship support.

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Application Deadlines for 2024 entry

Keyboard applicants: 2 October 2023

All other Instruments: 1 December 2023