Advanced Course

Congratulations on gaining your place on the Advanced Course! We hope that this information will
help you get the most from your course and the facilities available for you at RWCMD.
The Advanced Course is the ‘flagship’ of the Junior Conservatoire, the only course of its kind in Wales
and the South West of England. Its format is firmly based on the practical and academic
‘conservatoire’ training offered in the ‘senior’ conservatoire – this is the main part of RWCMD,
providing music degrees at higher education (HE) level for those who have left school.
The Advanced Course is geared to those aged 8 to 18 who show musical ability, commitment and
outstanding potential. It is the perfect preparation for those who wish to study music at a
conservatoire or university, as well as for those who want to fully develop their musical potential.
The Advanced course has two pathways: ‘Classical’ Instrument/Voice and Jazz. A summary of each
pathway is shown here.
Principal study (45 minutes)
Chamber Music (45-60 minutes)
General Musicianship (60 minutes)
Orchestra/specialist Workshops (90 minutes)
Modules (45 minutes)
Principal study (45 minutes)
Jazz Elements, Listening and Improvisation (JELI)
General Musicianship (60 minutes)
Jazz Workshop (90 minutes)
Modules (45 minutes)
The Advanced Course curriculum is geared to promoting the highest standards of musicianship and
performance. Fundamental to the course is your individual instrumental/vocal lesson, but it is your
group and class activities that provide the uniquely holistic approach to your musical development
that only the Junior Conservatoire can offer.
Principal/additional study
A principal study lesson is usually 45 minutes long and the additional study lesson is usually 30
minutes long. These times can be extended (at an extra cost), if timetables allow. Longer lessons are
advised for students working beyond Grade 8 level.
Your tutor will devise a scheme of work appropriate to your particular needs. This will normally
include exercises, studies and pieces that reflect a breadth of musical styles and work towards the
development of strong technical and musical skills.
Chamber Music and JELI
Chamber music is performed by small groups such as duos, trios, quartets, and quintets. Playing in a
chamber group is a rewarding and effective way of developing your technical and musical skills. It is
also very demanding, as you have to prepare, rehearse and perform your part to a high standard in a
way that complements the entire group. The players in your group will be of a similar level to you and
you will receive expert coaching each week. You are expected to practice your individual parts
regularly at home.
Jazz students attend JELI (Jazz history, Education, Listening and Improvisation). In this class, you will
develop aesthetic and stylistic awareness of Jazz and related idioms and its historical context by
investigating key composers, instrumentalists and movements in Jazz through the analysis of musical
extracts and jazz theory exercises.
General Musicianship
Aural training is a major feature of this activity which also promotes a sound grasp of music theory,
history, analysis and composition – all essential skills for any performer. Students who need to work
towards their Grade 1-5 theory exams will focus on this during their General Musicianship class.
The General Musicianship Class aims to:
broaden and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of history, style, analysis and
develop confidence and accuracy in the aural perception of the elements of music, as well as
the ability to discuss these elements
support GCSE/A Level work as appropriate
develop students’ ability to understand and apply compositional technique through short
project work
support students’ preparations for national practical examination aural tests when required
For students working on theory, General Musicianship aims to:
develop students’ confidence, understanding and practical facility in music theory and
provide a thorough understanding of ABRSM theory syllabi
coach students towards strong passes in ABRSM examinations.
The Orchestra performs at least twice a year, as part of the department’s Winter and Summer
concerts. Principal study players of orchestral instruments will automatically become members of the
Junior Conservatoire Orchestra and work to develop:
a high level of skill and discipline in ensemble/orchestral playing for your age
good awareness and experience of ensemble/orchestral repertoire and performance practice
sound experience of effective rehearsing and performing in an ensemble/orchestral setting
reliable reading and pitching skills
Workshops for Principal Study Pianists and Singers
Pianists and singers will participate in weekly workshops that aim to:
develop skill, discipline and experience in rehearsing and performing as part of a group to high
levels for your age
develop knowledge and experience of standard solo and ‘ensemble’ repertoire and related
performance practice
develop reliable sight-reading/singing skills
piano workshop: develop reliable keyboard harmonisation and transposition skills and greater
confidence and freedom in improvisation
voice workshop: reinforce understanding of language and aspects of acting and movement
Jazz Ensemble
Principal study players of jazz instruments will automatically become members of the Junior
Conservatoire Jazz Ensemble. The Ensemble’s repertoire will be drawn from Jazz standards and other
Jazz idioms such as Be-Bop, Latin Jazz, Trad Jazz and Modern Jazz. It aims to develop:
a high level of skill and discipline in ensemble playing for your age
good awareness and experience of ensemble jazz repertoire and related performance practice
transposition skills
performance skills and familiarisation with a wide range of sub- genres within Jazz and
Modules (5-10 weeks)
In addition to the study elements outlined above, students are required to select one of a range of
additional modules each term. Current options include:
You must take Perform for at least one term a year and are expected to bring music to play in
Perform! each week. The class aims to provide you with:
a platform for regular performances to friends, family and public
regular rehearsal and coaching towards performances
an opportunity to reflect on performance issues arising from student’s own performing and
that of others
greater self-confidence and skill in public performance
As part of this module, an audition preparation session will be offered to older students who are
applying for a place at a conservatoire in the Autumn term.
Music Technology
Music Technology is a discipline that focuses on the creation of music through the use of computers
and aspects of multi-track recording onto tape. It allows the student to realise their compositions
through the recording and mixing of live instruments and the manipulation of ideas using computers.
The College's facilities enable students to gain experience of the entire creative process; from taking
initial ideas, recording these ideas, using computer software to enhance, manipulating and arranging
the material, to producing recordings and electro-acoustic works which are mastered onto CD.
By the end of the module, students will have learned how to manage their composition to completion,
to keep the work on CD as well as having the piece played in concert.
Every instrumentalist/vocalist should be able to improvise a little, to become a ‘complete’ musician.
Improvisation can lead to greater freedom of musical expression and the discovery of new ways of
thinking about instrumental/vocal technique.
As part of a group that will include a range of different instruments/voices, you will learn basic chord
symbols and how to improvise over a given structure. You will also do some free improvisation. As a
culmination of the course, you will give a performance of your work to family and friends.
Choral Project
Singing in a good choir or singing group provides excellent ear (aural) training and develops sound
musicianship and performance skills. It develops general concentration skills and self-discipline and
provides greater insight into musical style and performance practice. In addition, choral singing gives
you an excellent chance to develop sound breathing technique and posture. Lastly, did you know that
recent scientific research studies have shown that choral singing increases people’s immunity,
increases happiness levels and improves thinking skills?
The project culminates in a recording of your work and/or an informal performance.
Your Timetable
Each September, you will receive a draft timetable for the coming year. A final timetable will follow a
few days before the start of term showing any adjustments if required. While changes can be
extremely difficult to make once we have reached final timetable stage, you should always let us know
if any aspect of your timetable causes you problems.
Your timetable is unique to you and the way your lessons and classes are put together is influenced by
your tutor(s) timetables and the requirements of his/her other students. Because of the small number
of hours and rooms we have available, we cannot promise to give you the ‘perfect’ timetable,
especially in the mornings. However, we will make sure that you have a break for lunch and that
students who have long journeys (eg, more than approx. 50 miles one way) are not given very early
lessons and classes.
If you need to miss a Saturday for an important occasion, you should ask you parents/carers to write
to the Head. This should be done at least two weeks before the absence.
Remember that not all absences are agreed. This is because your absence has a big effect on
ensembles and classes. Also, one of the rules of receiving a bursary is that you should attend College
each Saturday.
Don’t forget that if you miss a lesson, your instrument/voice tutor may not be able to make the lesson
Each year, Instrumental/vocal students have a performance assessment given by the Head and a
specialist in your Principal Study area – usually a College Head of Study. Assessments for Jazz students
are usually conducted in a group.
There is opportunity for a two-way dialogue in assessments – it is an excellent opportunity to ask for
some objective feedback on your performing and for careers advice.
The requirements for your annual assessment are as follows
Principal study:
2 Contrasting Pieces or 1 Piece and 1 Study and either:
for instrumentalists up to and including Grade 8 standard: 4 scales and 4 arpeggios of
tutor’s/pupil’s choice, or
for instrumentalists beyond Grade 8 standard: 4 scales and 4 arpeggios of tutor’s/pupil’s
own choice OR a short study or technical exercise.
Singers will be asked to complete a short sight-singing exercise.
Additional Study:
1 Piece and either:
for instrumentalists up to and including Grade 8 standard: 4 scales and 4 arpeggios of
tutor’s/pupil’s choice, or
for instrumentalists beyond Grade 8 standard: 4 scales and 4 arpeggios of tutor’s/pupil’s
own choice OR a short study or technical exercise
Singers will be asked to complete a short sight-singing exercise.
Although students often take theory examinations as part of General Musicianship work, there are no
formal examinations in the Junior Conservatoire. You are expected, however, to complete any
homework set and work hard in all your activities.
The termly reports you receive from your tutors form part of your annual assessment.
If it is clear from your reports and/or assessment that you are not making sufficient progress, in the
first instance you and your parents/carers will be required to discuss the reasons for this with the
Students who are clearly not doing sufficient practice will be asked to keep a practice diary which is
monitored by their tutor and the Head.
Several trust funds and charitable organisations have been generous in helping us support musically
talented students whose families require assistance with fees. The amount families are awarded
depends on their circumstances and how much funding is available.
Bursaries must be applied for annually: we cannot guarantee your bursary funding from year to year.
The Head is required to send detailed individual reports on each bursary holder to our funders each
year. These reports are very carefully scrutinized and can often mean the difference between whether
Junior Conservatoire receives continued funding in the future or not. You can play your part in helping
us maintain and extend our bursary funding by attending College reliably, working hard and making
the best possible progress.
Careers Advice
There are several sources of careers advice within the department
The Head – you and/or your parents/carers are welcome to make an appointment to see the
Head at any time for individual careers advice. The Head may also put you in touch with other
members of staff who may be able to help
Your Tutor
The Annual Assessment Panel – which usually comprises a College Head of Study or a subject
specialist – who will also be happy to offer careers advice if you ask.
Through the senior conservatoire, it is possible to obtain advice and information from a huge range of
experts in the various performing disciplines. If you would like to seek advice from a senior
conservatoire expert, please contact the Head in the first instance.
Concerts are a very important part of your musical development. The Junior Conservatoire offers a
wide range of very useful opportunities for Advanced Course students to perform solo and as part of
ensembles and orchestra at College, including occasional joint concerts with senior students.
Your main concerts are:
Winter Concert.* The Winter Concert is held on the last Saturday of the Autumn term, usually
from 5pm-6pm. The programme is usually of ensemble, orchestral and choral items and all
students MUST take part.
Summer Concert.* This is held on the penultimate Saturday of the Summer term, usually
from 5pm. The programme will include orchestral and choral items and usually a concerto. All
students MUST take part.
Foyer Concerts.** The departmental gives monthly performances in the College’s beautiful
new foyer which are open to the public. Students of Grade 8 level and above are encouraged
to participate in these.
Performance Platforms. **All students are encouraged to perform either solo or as part of a
chamber group in Performance Platforms in the Spring and Summer terms, usually held on the
last day.
Perform! class. Each Perform! module culminates in informal solo performances, open to
family and friends, which all students are expected to take part in.
Each year, students have the opportunity to participate in masterclasses with leading professional
performers in their specialist area.
* the Junior Conservatoire concert dress code for these events is a black blouse/shirt and black
trousers/skirt (below the knee) and black shoes.
**the dress code for these events is smart – jeans or very casual clothes are not acceptable.
While some grades (such as 8) are clearly desirable, there is no requirement from us for you to take
one grade exam after another. Instead, you are advised to follow your tutor’s recommendations in
prioritising your technical development, working to make sure that this efficiently supports your
developing musicianship. We advise you not to take a grade exam unless you and your tutor are
confident of a pass at merit/distinction level. For Grade 8, all students should aim for a distinction.
Prizes and Competitions
Advanced students are eligible for a number of prizes which are awarded either on the basis of a
competition or following annual assessment.
The competitive prizes are:
Concerto Competition (Winner performs as part of Summer concert)
Beattie Prize for Piano (£100)
Eleanor Myfanwy Jones (ABRSM Piano performance)
Betty Richards Prize for Voice or Piano (£25)
Chamber Music prize (£15 each)
Prizes awarded following annual assessment are:
Walker Prize for an Outstanding Student Proceeding to a Conservatoire (£100)
Caerphilly Borough String Prize (£50)
Individual Prizes for Voice (£50)
Individual Prizes for Brass (£50)
Individual Prizes for Woodwind (£50)
Beryl Weale Prize (£25)
Friends of Junior RWCMD Prize for Drive and Determination (£25)
Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Life of the Department (£50) Friends of
RWCMD Junior Prize for an Outstanding Student (£10)