‘The ethos of the Royal College of Music Percussion Faculty is centred on recognising what the profession needs and equipping you with those essential skills.’
Many former students of the Percussion Faculty are in the UK’s leading orchestras. The backbone of our teaching has a clear orchestral bias, but today’s training covers all aspects of percussion activity, enabling you to enter the profession equipped with the musical tools of the trade.
Percussion students at the Royal College of Music enjoy the benefits of a vibrant faculty housed in a purpose-built percussion suite, which was opened by Dame Evelyn Glennie. We have state-of-the-art technology and practice facilities for teaching world percussion alongside the orchestral repertoire.
At postgraduate level, we offer the option to study marimba as a principal study instrument – an option devised in association with internationally-renowned marimbist Daniella Ganeva.
One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. The Percussion Faculty boasts professors with experience from right across the industry, which allows us to provide our students with unparalleled insights and networking opportunities. Many of our teachers hold principal positions in major orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Students have the opportunity to participate in repertoire classes with players from leading orchestras and benefit from workshops given by distinguished visiting artists.
All first and second year undergraduates enjoy regular lessons on solo marimba, jazz vibraphone, Latin percussion and drum kit, in addition to timpani and orchestral percussion. In their third and fourth years, all BMus students choose just four of these disciplines, crafting a bespoke study experience based on the specialisations that best suit their aspirations.
Jojo Mayer at the RCM Festival of Percussion 2023
Benny Greb at the RCM Festival of Percussion 2022
Students playing the marimba at the Chamber Music Festival 2023
Guest artist Anders Astrand rehearsing with students
Sophie Alloway performing on the drum kit at the RCM Festival of Percussion
Visiting artist She-e Wu
Preparations for a PERC'M performance in Florence, Italy
Redhocks perform at the RCM Festival of Percussion
RCM students performing at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the Guinness World Record attempt for the world’s largest drumming lesson
We are proud to be the first UK conservatoire to have an American Drumline ensemble – the Redhocks – which has been trained by 18-times world pipe band champion, Jim Kilpatrick.
The RCM also has its own percussion quartet, PERC’M, which is professionally coached, rehearses regularly and enjoys a busy performance schedule.
'The percussion suite is amazing, having so many instruments and space to practice every single day has allowed me to put the time and effort into developing my technique and musicianship.'
Percussion students have numerous opportunities to take part in public performances as soloists, in chamber groups and in the RCM’s various orchestras and ensembles. Orchestral performances are often directed by internationally renowned conductors, providing invaluable experience of truly world-class rehearsal and performance. Previous guest conductors have included John Wilson, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Antonio Pappano, Holly Mathieson and Vladimir Jurowski.
David Hockings with students in the percussion suite
Student playing marimbas in the Chamber Music Festival 2023 at the RCM
A drum kit lesson in the percussion suite
Students playing the marimba room in RCM's Festival of Percussion 2023
Percussion in the RCM's Jazz Orchestra
Practicing cymbals in the percussion suite
Percussionist performing on a timpani in an orchestral concert
Performing in a jazz concert at the RCM's Festival of Percussion 2023
Percussionist performing in an orchestra performance
Rehearsing with the RCM Philharmonic
Our percussionists occasionally travel and enjoy performing in a variety of external venues both in the UK and overseas, and have toured with Serge Vuille, She-e Wu and David Hockings.
The Percussion Faculty runs regular performance classes in which every student participates at least four times a term. In addition, the entire faculty performs at the RCM’s termly percussion showcases, which include solos and duos, plus performances by PERC’M, our percussion quartet and the Redhocks, our American drumline.
RCM percussionists performed at the inauguration of the Francis Crick Institute, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II, and helped set a world record for the largest drum lesson ever given, which took place at the Copper Box Arena and was adjudicated by the Guinness World Records.
Festival of Percussion
The annual RCM Festival of Percussion, London’s only annual percussion festival, is a celebration of the field. It offers a wide range of entertaining and educational events, further performance opportunities for RCM students, plus a trade fair featuring some of the most important brands in the industry.
The Festival of Percussion has attracted artists such as John Chimes, Benny Greb, Mark Guiliana, Pete Lockett, Jojo Mayer, John Riley, Ralph Salmins and Dave Weckl; as well as representatives from leading percussion ensembles and major London orchestras.
Our purpose-built percussion suite opened in September 2015 by Dame Evelyn Glennie. It contains spaces dedicated to specific instruments: timpani, vibraphone, marimba and orchestral, as well as a multi-percussion room for recital and ensemble practice, a large main space for masterclasses and sectional rehearsals and bespoke studio room for recording.
Both the main room and the studio feature recording equipment and contain drum kit, Latin instruments, vibraphone and keyboards ready for recording sessions.
The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.
Key facilities at the RCM include:
- The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall - our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles.
- Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving International Opera School.
- A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics.
- Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms.
- Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice.
- Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms.
- A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos.
- Instrument surgeries including luthier services.
- RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world.
- RCM Library with more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals.
- Recently refurbished RCM Museum, holding more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and dedicated research facility.
Recent visiting artists
The RCM holds regular percussion masterclasses, which take place in the specialised facilities of the percussion suite. Previous visitors have included:
- Colin Currie
- O Duo
- Peter Erskine
- David Friedman
- Eric Sammut
- She-e Wu
- Raphael Haeger, principal percussionist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
The RCM is the first institution in the UK to offer solo marimba as a principal study at postgraduate level, which is available to students working towards a Master of Performance (MPerf).
This world-class study option, devised in association with internationally renowned marimbist Daniella Ganeva, provides a fabulous opportunity to study solo marimba right in the heart of one of Europe’s most spectacular cities. Students enjoy lessons and masterclasses from celebrated visiting artists including She-e Wu and Jasmin Kolberg.
We aim to prepare students for a career as a solo artist through intensive training in all aspects of solo performance, repertoire, techniques, concert programming, recording and management.
Students can expect:
- Regular one-to-one lessons dedicated to solo marimba.
- Regular performance opportunities with an end of year recital.
- Ensemble and chamber music coaching.
- Masterclassses with internationally renowned marimbists.
- The access to state-of-the-art facilities and professional development opportunities enjoyed by all RCM students.
For more information about our postgraduate marimba offering please contact our Admissions team.
RCM percussion alumni hold principal and co-principal positions in major orchestras and bands, including:
- BBC Symphony Orchestra
- London Symphony Orchestra
- London Philharmonic Orchestra
- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
- Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
- City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
- The Hallé
- Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
RCM graduates are achieving solo success worldwide. Owen Gunnell and Oliver Cox have achieved critical acclaim and commercial success as O Duo. They have performed concertos with the BBC Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, worked at Abbey Road and Sony studios on television and film scores, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV.
In addition, many of our alumni have achieved successful freelance careers as orchestral and session players across the globe.
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.
Latest from the Percussion Faculty
The Royal College of Music (RCM) achieved the highest rating of Gold for its outstanding teaching, delivery of student experience and outcomes in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023.
The Royal College of Music has been ranked as the global No. 1 institution for performing arts in the 2023 QS World University Rankings by Subject, holding this position for the second consecutive year.
The Royal College of Music (RCM) wishes you a festive season full of joy and music with a special performance of Silent Night filmed in RCM’s wonderful new campus.
The Royal College of Music has been ranked as the global top institution for performing arts in the 2022 QS World University Rankings by Subject.
The Royal College of Music (RCM) is pleased to present a vibrant summer events programme featuring festivals, classical concerts and innovative collaborations.
19 January 2024, 7:30pm
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall
25 January 2024, 6:00pm
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall
08 February 2024, 6:15pm
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall
Please note that the audition and application process for Fellowships is not the same as it is for our courses. Please refer to the individual Fellowship pages for more details.
Contact the Percussion Faculty
If you have any general queries about percussion at the RCM please contact our Percussion Faculty Administration team. If you have any queries about auditions or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.
Percussion Faculty Administration
General enquiries about the operation of the faculty and consultation lessons
Admissions and general audition enquiries
+44 (0)20 7591 4362