Studying at RCMJD

Two RCMJD students in a cello lesson
Welcome to the Royal College of Music Junior Department!

Since its inception, the RCMJD has evolved to meet the musical needs of our students and adapted to the changing educational and musical landscape. We provide a programme designed to prepare you for musical life in the 21st century, working to make you a happy, successful, healthy and entrepreneurial young musician who can meet the ever-changing demands of the profession.

If you want to make the most of your musical ability, we are here to help you. We are committed to nurturing potential and offer a warm, creative yet disciplined environment in which you will flourish. Enthusiasm, energy and dedication are important qualities at RCMJD.


At the centre of the main programme are one-to-one lessons on your first study. This can be joined by an optional second or third study if you wish. Please see the 'Individual lessons' section below for a list of individual study options.

Alongside individual lessons a range of activities support your studies. These usually include chamber music, orchestra, choir and musicianship. There are many performance opportunities throughout the year and students are assessed at various points throughout their time at RCMJD.

Our teachers include RCM professors and other distinguished musicians, who are all highly qualified and experienced leaders in their field. Our students are expected to devote a considerable amount of time each week to practice, as advised by teachers, in order to gain the best possible benefit from the tuition offered. If you learn with an RCMJD teacher, it is expected that they will be your only teacher. However, participation in masterclasses and other one-off events is encouraged after consultation with your teacher at RCMJD.

All elements of the curriculum as well as all written and spoken correspondence are delivered in English. It is essential that all students and parents have a good grasp of both written and spoken English.

Each academic year has 30 teaching weeks, usually divided into three equal terms of 10 weeks each.

Individual lessons

At the centre of the RCMJD curriculum is the first study (your main instrument, which may also be voice or composition). A second study is optional, and study of piano is encouraged but not essential. First study jazz instrumentalists are encouraged to support their studies with classical tuition and musicianship.

A third instrument is not normally recommended due to time restrictions. However, harpsichord or organ for pianists, orchestral wind instruments for recorder players and saxophone for clarinettists may be considered suitable. Composition may be a suitable third study, particularly for GCSE and A-level students and class-taught composition is also available as part of musicianship studies.

The standard length for first study lessons is 45 minutes and 30 minutes for second study. Longer lessons are available at extra cost (for more information see RCMJD fees & bursaries).

All individual lessons must be supported by practice during the week as advised by teachers.

Individual study options:

Bass trombone
Double bass
French horn
Jazz piano
Jazz saxophone

Chamber music

Chamber music is regarded as a fundamental element in the training of young musicians in the RCMJD. We have over 80 chamber groups including:

  • String quartets
  • Piano trios
  • Piano duos
  • Violin, cello and bass groups
  • Wind quintets
  • Wind octet/dectet
  • Clarinet choir
  • Recorder, saxophone, percussion, harp, guitar, baroque, jazz and brass ensembles
  • Brass dectet

Groups meet for an hour or more each week and there are many performance and coaching opportunities both inside and outside the College. We encourage our students, where appropriate, to take part in music making outside the RCMJD both locally and nationally.


The RCMJD has six orchestras and places are allocated according to the student’s age, orchestral ability and progress. Our large orchestras have a team of tutors to assist in full rehearsals and sectionals. 

The orchestras are:

  • Sinfonietta
  • String Orchestra
  • Symphonic Wind Orchestra
  • Sinfonia
  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Chamber Orchestra

See our Ensembles & choirs page for more information about orchestras. The page is aimed at current JD students but you may find it helpful.


Choral singing is an integral part of the RCMJD curriculum for all students. It develops aural awareness, vocal technique and general musical perception.

The RCMJD has choirs catering for varying ages, voices and abilities:

  • Upper Voices
  • Chamber Choir
  • Parry Voices

In addition to the above, we run bespoke choral projects for larger groups of students, including our younger students who are not yet eligible for our audition-based choirs.

See our Ensembles & choirs page for more information about choirs. The page is aimed at current JD students but you may find it helpful.


All students take part in weekly musicianship classes which help to increase perception and knowledge of music and encourage creative responses to it.

These classes provide a thorough grounding in listening skills, aural, contextual awareness and active performance and support all other elements of the curriculum.

See our Musicianship page for more information about musicianship classes. The page is aimed at current JD students but you may find it helpful.

Alexander technique

Alexander technique: classes (taken as shared or individual lessons, and subject to timetabling) are also available on Saturdays by special request and teacher recommendation.


Each week a Performers Platform provides opportunities for students to perform solo or ensemble works in front of an informal audience; an accompanist will be provided if required. Experienced tutors give performance feedback as well as advice on technique. A variety of annual competitions, adjudicated by leading professionals in the music world, provide valuable experience and exposure for students who take part. Please see the Competitions section in Resources for current RCMJD students for more details.

More than 20 regular concerts per year showcase the ongoing work of our orchestras and ensembles including an annual Symphony Orchestra concert at a high-profile external venue. Most concerts are open to the public and almost all are currently free of charge for parents. Our musicians are also regularly invited to perform outside the RCMJD for special concerts and events.

We encourage our students to take an active part in the musical lives of their school and home communities. It is polite to check with your RCMJD teacher that they are happy for you to take part in an external performance. It is essential to seek their advice and agreement to solo performances or competitions.

Support and assessment

At RCMJD we pride ourselves on the high level of individual care and support we offer to our students and are always alert to each individual’s aims and achievements. In return we expect a high level of commitment and personal responsibility from students and parents alike.

Students are assessed regularly and reports are issued twice each academic year. All Year 12 students have a one-to-one interview with the Head of Junior Programmes to discuss their career plans and life after RCMJD. Whilst many of our students go on to study music at universities and conservatoires both in the UK and abroad, a good number choose alternative careers, and career support is always on hand.

All our staff are trained musicians and are willing to help and advise where necessary.

Mini-bass programme

The mini-bass course is our pioneering scheme for beginners aged between eight and ten.

Established in 1985 in association with the Yorke Trust, this exciting initiative allows students to learn double bass on specially designed instruments in individual lessons and small groups. Tuition also encompasses basic theory and ensemble work. Most students will proceed to the RCMJD as full members in due course, subject to audition.

At the start of the course fully insured instruments up to quarter-size are provided free of charge by the RCMJD. As a student progresses there is a possibility that they may outgrow the instruments in our collection and require one of a size and/or level that we cannot provide. We regret that we cannot cover the hire cost of mini-basses outside the RCMJD collection.

Students on the mini-bass scheme have gone on to play in some of the world’s top orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Who can apply?

Subject to space being available on the scheme, students are accepted from the age of eight (occasionally six or seven) on the basis of a short and straightforward musical aptitude test, and must also show a keenness to learn.

What's on offer?

Students are given a 30-minute individual lesson and will also take part in a 1 hour group session during which they study basic music theory through a carefully tailored and accessible scheme of work. Mini-bass students will also take part in a choir (1 hour) and, when ready, an orchestra (up to 1 hour and 15 minutes).

Students may request to extend their programme (at additional cost) to include second study lessons and/or further musicianship classes by arrangement with the Head of Junior Programmes. After 3 or 4 years, we aim that our mini-bass students are at an appropriate level to audition successfully for full membership of the RCMJD.

Please note that the fees for the mini-bass scheme are heavily subsidised; we therefore regret that it is not possible for parents of mini-bass students to apply for further assistance with fees from the JD Bursary Fund.

When is it?

Like the RCMJD as a whole, the mini-bass course takes place between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays during term time, though the course will not fill all those hours and timetables will be kept as compact as possible for our youngest students.

Where is it?

At the Royal College of Music.

How do I apply for the Mini-bass programme?

To apply for the mini-bass scheme please fill out the application form putting 'mini-bass' in the first study field and if you are a total beginner, put '0' for the number of years you have been learning.

If you currently play an instrument, note it down under second study and don’t forget to tell us how long you’ve been learning. Don’t worry if you can’t complete every section. For more general information on how to apply as well as the closing date for applications and a downloadable application form, see the How to apply section.

Child safeguarding policy

Safety and care of students and staff is one of our highest priorities. Please download and read our child safeguarding policy.

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