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Masters Programmes in Performance and Composition

Masters Options

According to the number of elements within your Principal Study Area and depending on
which Masters programme you are following you will be asked to choose a number of
options from the following list:

Please note that numbers of places on some modules may be restricted and certain modules
may not be available in a given academic year.

Ensemble Performance

As a performer at the RCM, you will have numerous chances to participate in our full and
varied concert programme. In addition to that, these options offer you the chance to enrich
your skills as a musical team-player at the highest level.

Chamber Music
Through preparing and performing significant works from the repertoire of your chosen
ensemble, you will learn to perform with a high level of rapport with your group, creating a
unified, well blended, balanced, and nuanced performance, as well as developing good
interpersonal skills and the beginnings of the organisational and entrepreneurial initiative
required to secure external engagements.

Concerto Competition
You will prepare and perform a concerto in a faculty concerto competition, in which you will
show the potential to deliver a performance with the conviction, authority, and other special
performing qualities required of a concert soloist.

You will develop your knowledge of the techniques of conducting through learning to develop
strategies for directing rehearsals and performances, and refining your skills in the
communication of musical ideas, extending your knowledge of orchestral and large ensemble
repertoire. You will also have the opportunity to observe other conductors in rehearsal and

Continuo Accompaniment
You will develop the ability to complement the performance of a soloist colleague, playing a
continuo realisation from a realised continuo part as a starting point, in a stylistically informed
manner appropriate to the national style and period of the work, and will practise figured bass
reading using historical source material.

Duo Performance
You will receive coaching on issues of duo playing (balance, intonation, ensemble,
interaction, rehearsal protocols), developing a high level of rapport with your duo partner,
creating unified, well-balanced performances in which the personal convictions of the two
partners are successfully blended. You will explore the repertoire and its contexts, and
develop the organisational and entrepreneurial initiative required to secure external

Keyboard Improvisation
You will enhance your improvising and performing skills on your Principal Study, and broaden
your knowledge of different styles associated with this skill, not only through performance but
through self-directed exploration of both live and recorded music.

Recital Accompaniment
You will develop your skills as an accompanist, enhancing your ability to complement the
performance of a soloist colleague, adopting a prominence appropriate to the nature of the
repertoire, and demonstrating the reliability, sensitivity, and musical awareness essential to a
fine accompanist.

Music in Context

The treasures in the RCM Library and RCM Museum of Music offer world-class resources for
training in different research techniques, and for the investigation of performance histories. So
you can discover how the musical past informs the present and the future.

Historical Performance
You will take classes and engage in project work exploring early music repertoire, including
discussion of sources, editions and performance treatises, thereby enhancing your skills and
confidence as an ensemble performer of early music.

Programme Notes
Acknowledging the relevance of a performers own knowledge about the music they present,
this unit helps you to develop skills in writing engaging and authoritative programme notes.
You will learn and employ strategies for communicative writing, and interrogate pre-existing
models. Lectures and individual tutorial guidance helps you as you work towards producing a
set of notes for your Principal Study specialism, of a professional standard.

Recordings in Context: Style, History, Interpretation
You will draw on the recorded history of music as a valuable and often-overlooked source of
interpretative inspiration. This course is both about the practices of recording and performing
live, and the performing styles that recordings capture. You will develop research skills
through learning how to listen to and discuss recorded performances as against live concerts,
and will enrich your practice by linking interpretation to the contextual and theoretical
knowledge you can derive from recordings (particularly in cases where composers have
recorded their own works). You will be expected to engage critically with the self-directed and
self-reflective examination of your own performance style and interpretative decisions, as well
as with your place in the history of performance. There will also be the opportunities to attend
a field-trip to consider current concert practices, to attend a lecture about the recording
process, and to observe a recording session.

Spoken Presentation
This unit will enable you to develop skills and confidence in delivering a short spoken
presentation about an aspect of music of your choosing, e.g. a work you are performing. You
will learn methods of combining printed, visual, recorded and live performance materials into
a coherent and engaging presentation. You will also develop strategies for communication
with and without a script, the ability to work flexibly across areas of performance and
scholarship, and strategies for dealing with questions effectively and succinctly.

Repertoire Project
In making a direct link with your priorities as a performer, this unit involves a detailed study of
a piece of music of your choosing, composed for performance on your Principal Study. You
will be engaged in investigating and detailing the story of this work in detail. This process will
enable you to gain knowledge and confidence in research skills and enrich your
understanding of the relationship between a piece of musics identity, its manuscript sources,
published editions and recordings. You will be able further to refine your ability to make
interpretational judgements based on this knowledge and understanding. You will also be
able to benefit from the impact of this approach upon your own subsequent performances of
the work.

Sources in Performance History
This module offers an introduction to aspects of the history of music performance from 1700,
and to some of the unique items in the collections (the RCM Museum of Music and the
Portraits and Performance History Collection) that provide evidence of that history. Lectures
cover two of the following areas in each year (on a rotating basis): organology, iconography,
concert programmes and sound recordings. This will be followed by a specialised project in a
chosen area. Both theoretical and practical issues surrounding the interpretation of such
objects and documents are explored, and you will have opportunities to use them on your
own work. Students develop written presentational skills, and gain experience in self-directed
individual research.

Contemporary Cultures

Many of these options are based around collaborations between performers and composers,
and many make use of our excellent studio facilities, equipped with the latest creative
technologies. Within this rich, creative, experimental environment, you will be encouraged to
find new ways of making music, and of communicating with audiences.

Concert Craft
You will develop the creative and entrepreneurial skills necessary for your portfolio-style
careers. The need for innovative ideas, creative approaches to repertoire and venue choice,
and the organisational ability to transform them into musical events cannot be
underestimated. This will provide a practice-based, self-reflective environment in which to
hone your independence of thought and creativity in relation to crafting concerts.

Contemporary Music in Action
You will explore the possibilities of collaboration and develop your skills in the collaborative
process of the creating of new repertoire, and will gain experience in articulating the detailed
process involved in performing on your instrument.

Composition for Screen
You will gain an enhanced understanding of the art and craft of screen music, and develop
your skills in composing, arranging, orchestration, and technology, as specifically applied to
screen composition.

Electro-acoustic Music
You will familiarise yourself with some advanced hardware and software tools and their use
for the production of electro-acoustic compositions, and will in addition apply project-
management skills to the completion of compositions projects (one involving collaboration
with an instrumentalist).

Experimental Music
You will develop an understanding of historical, practical, and aesthetic issues relating to
contemporary music composition and practice, while also refining your skills as a solo and
ensemble performer in contemporary music that encompasses theatrical, multimedia and
collaborative dimensions.

You will undertake detailed exploration and analysis of relevant repertoire, studying
appropriate models and analysing the approaches they represent. Through this you will
practise and enhance your knowledge of orchestration and instrumentation, developing your
awareness of instrumental techniques as well as the creative, aesthetic and practical issues
of orchestration.

Pop Song Writing
This module offers a practice-led approach to learning and exploring the craft of pop song
writing and production. It will extend your practical and creative writing skills in relation to:
idiomatic melody and harmony; lyric writing; instrumentation, production and production value;
considerations of style and target audience.

Studio Experi ence
Through the introductory sessions, your time spent in the studio and independent preparation,
you will learn to look critically at the concepts, issues, and processes relating to recording,
gain practical experience of performing and producing in a studio environment, and produce
your own high-quality recording.

Applied Skills

These options will help you to prepare for a lifelong career in music, drawing on the unrivalled
resources of the RCM Centre for Performance Science, the Woodhouse Professional
Development Centre, and RCM Sparks the RCMs outreach and education programme.

Al exander Technique
You will learn to recognise performance anxiety and know how to deal with it, how to apply
the Alexander Technique to playing your instrument, to identify habitual emotional responses
to everyday stimuli through awareness of language and body language, and will thereby gain
an understanding of how to achieve real spontaneity in performance.

Parti cipatory Music Education
New for 2014 details to follow.

New Media
You will be introduced to practical ways of using emerging digital technology, will construct a
website, and gain awareness of the possibilities these offer for engaging people online and
enhancing your career.

Musical Development
This module provides insight into fundamental principles of musical development, education
and expertise, as elucidated through current scientific research and educational practice.
Drawing on your own experience, seminars and tutorials explore music perception and
production throughout the lifespan and engage directly with implications for learning and
teaching. Particular emphasis is placed on enhancing your ability to develop and critique
related practice and research, informed by relevant educational, professional and policy

Musicians Health and Wellbeing
This module considers how physical and mental health can shape how musicians pursue their
art and the pleasure they take from it. Seminars and tutorials examine results from recent
research into the physical and mental demands of music making, and you are encouraged to
explore critically and systematically the ways in which musicians meet those demands, both
through their own personal means and via support mechanisms available within educational
and professional settings. You also gain practical experience of administering applied
psychological and physiological measurement tools.

Professional Ski lls
You will enhance your understanding of the structures, management and financing of the
professional world of music, identifying ways in which your own career can be enhanced by
entrepreneurial skills. Lecture topics will include: promotional material, public relations and
marketing; changing patterns in the recording industry; internet and digital opportunities;
professional decision making; introduction to business plans and an entrepreneurs toolbox.

Psychology of Performance
This module introduces you to processes and perspectives that define and underpin
performance psychology, elucidating principles derived from interdisciplinary research. It aims
to enable you to develop critical and analytical resourcefulness and to gain broad awareness
of the mental skills that facilitate effective practice and successful performance.