RCM student performs a piano concerto with the RCM Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy

Keyboard

The Keyboard Faculty provides opportunities for you to experience tuition and masterclasses in a variety of subjects. Our programmes encourage you to fulfil your own potential and enable you to specialise in a variety of areas such as solo piano, contemporary music and piano accompaniment. 

The Royal College of Music boasts a wealth of high quality instruments. Pianists receive individual lessons on Steinway and Fazioli grand pianos. Organists have access to the RCM’s selection of mechanical action instruments and to organs outside the RCM, including at the Royal Albert Hall and on the new Flentrop organ in Christ Church, Chelsea.

Piano masterclass

Sir András Schiff works with RCM student Martin Bartlett on Schubert's Impromptus op 90

One-to-one lessons

One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. High quality performance, radiating artistry, technique, integrity and depth of stylistic understanding is only possible with the input of teaching staff of the highest level. Our distinguished and experienced professors will help you achieve your personal goals in a supportive environment, where you can develop the skills to be successful in today's music profession.

Meet the professors

The Keyboard Faculty offers piano accompaniment and contemporary piano as principal study specialisms to postgraduate students. The RCM’s thriving Historical Performance Faculty provides keyboard students with access to masterclasses and dedicated tuition in fortepiano and harpsichord. 

Pianists enjoy being part of a faculty that achieves unrivalled success in international competitions and provides a range of performance opportunities from solo recitals in London and beyond to concerto performances with RCM orchestras.

Organists enjoy regular study trips abroad to France, Germany and the Netherlands. Training built into the core of the BMus programme includes preparation for the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists.

All keyboard students at the RCM have the opportunity to learn from the biggest names in the industry through our regular programme of masterclasses.

Performance opportunities

Students in the Keyboard Faculty have the opportunity to perform concertos with RCM orchestras who are regularly joined by world-renowned conductors. Recent concerto performances have included Chopin's Piano Concerto no 2 conducted with Vladimir Ashkenazy and Mozart's Piano Concerto in C minor with Sir Roger Norrington.

Many organ students hold scholarships while studying, for example, at Westminster Abbey, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Chapel Royal Hampton Court, Southwark Cathedral, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Farm Street Church and other significant churches in and around London.

The RCM runs an annual Keyboard Festival, which represents a fantastic opportunity for a wide range of keyboard students to perform often in front of a worldwide audience thanks to the RCM’s live streaming capabilities. 

The great number of students and instruments in the Keyboard Faculty allows us to stage unusual performances, such as a ground-breaking performance of John Cage’s HPSCHD for seven harpsichords.

Recent visiting artists

Our students enjoy regular masterclasses with the most renowned international visiting artists, including:

  • Emanuel Ax
  • Alfred Brendel
  • Peter Donohoe
  • Angela Hewett
  • Lang Lang
  • John Lill
  • Murray Perahia
  • Sir András Schiff
  • Craig Sheppard
  • Mitsuko Uchida

Recent successes

The RCM's keyboard students regularly achieve the highest professional success, winning international competition prizes and finding places on highly regarded scheme. Recent examples include:

  • Honens International Piano Competition
  • Leeds International Piano Competition
  • Nordic International Piano Competition
  • Sheepdrove Intercollegiate Piano Competition
  • Louisiana International Piano Competition
  • Jaques Samuel Intercollegiate Piano Competition
  • BBC Young Musician
  • BBC Radio 3 New Generation
  • City Music Foundation and Young Classical Artist Trust Artists
  • Organ scholarships at places including Westminster Abbey and St Martin-in-the-Fields

Graduate destinations

RCM graduate pianists are performing concertos with major orchestras world-wide, and giving solo recitals at the world’s leading festivals. 

Piano alumni are chosen to take part in the Park Lane Group Series at the Southbank Centre each year. A number of our pianists have signed exclusive CD contracts with record labels including Decca and Sony BMG.

RCM graduate organists hold key full-time posts at churches and cathedrals, including St Paul’s Cathedral.

Celebrated alumni

Piano

  • Malcolm Binns
  • Ian Brown
  • Barry Douglas
  • Megumi Fujita
  • Peter Jablonski
  • Andrei Korobeinikov
  • Sofya Gulyak
  • Piers Lane
  • John Lenehan
  • John Lill
  • Malcolm Martineau
  • Alexander Romanovsky
  • Howard Shelley
  • Kathryn Stott
  • Melvyn Tan
  • Roger Vignoles

Harpsichord

  • Jane Chapman
  • Sophie Yates

Organ

  • Nicholas Danby
  • Peter Hurford
  • Nicholas Kynaston
  • Wayne Marshall
  • Jane Parker-Smith
  • Gordon Stewart
  • Thomas Trotter
  • Jane Watts
  • Dame Gillian Weir

Postgraduate piano accompaniment

Principal study in piano accompaniment – available at postrgaduate level – is designed to explore and develop all aspects of a professional accompanist’s skills as a collaborative artist. Students enjoy regular group classes with internationally renowned pianist Roger Vignoles as well as a generous allocation of time each week with a one-to-one professor. 

In addition students will receive tuition to develop the many skills required of a professional accompanist, including:

  • Duo repertoire and chamber music
  • Sight-reading and quick learning
  • Fortepiano, harpsichord and continuo playing 
  • Techniques for the repetiteur
  • Basic conducting
  • Introduction to vocal coaching
  • Orchestral piano

Students of piano accompaniment enjoy close links with the instrumental faculties as well as with the RCM International Opera School. This involves playing for song classes and projects as well as weekly language classes. There are also opportunities to be a repetiteur for the Masters programme Opera scenes.

Audition requirements

Postgraduate contemporary piano

Principal study in contemporary piano provides you with the opportunity to expand your repertoire interests. As a complement to your principal study, you will take part in workshops on subjects such as minimalism and post minimalism, prepared piano, aleatoric music and improvisation.

You will work alongside staff and student composers in preparing pieces for concert performance. Students of contemporary piano have the chance to develop orchestral piano playing, duo and ensemble playing, as well as solo performance.

Audition requirements

Career development

The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.

The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.

Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

Find out more

Facilities

We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.

The RCM’s largest performance spaces are the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, which has an illustrious history, and the 400-seat Britten Theatre, which boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. In addition, more intimate spaces include The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall.

As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, 11 Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 140 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.

RCM Studios is a top commercial-grade facility, equipped with the latest audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.

The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 items of printed music, 9,000 CD recordings, extensive music literature, more than 400 music journals, plus an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) and early printed editions.

The RCM Museum holds more than 1,000 instruments dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. The collection is a unique resource and many of the instruments can be studied or played by RCM students.

The public museum is currently closed for refurbishment, but its vital resources are still available to our students. 

Contact the Keyboard Faculty

If you have any general queries about brass at the RCM please contact our Keyboard Faculty administration team. If you have any queires about auditions or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.

Keyboard Faculty administration

General enquiries about the operation of the faculty and consultation lessons

keyboard@rcm.ac.uk

Admissions team

Admissions and general audition enquiries

admissions@rcm.ac.uk