Keep Music Playing: Breaking Down Barriers

Adapting to teaching and learning online has certainly had its challenges, but this necessary shift in the way we’re working together has offered a fantastic opportunity to re-examine the ways in which we do things.

There are many ways in which delivering classes online has uncovered new and exciting approaches to learning, and I am looking forward to taking these into the classroom when we’re all able to study together again at the College.

Connecting with students in their own homes, and the day-to-day realities that brings, means we’ve all developed a much rounder sense of each other, which has definitely broken down barriers. Zoom classes mean that students are able to make decisions about the direction and speed of a class, offering real-time feedback, and can choose how they interact in each session, allowing a much more personalised approach. Teaching in this way has certainly pushed me to use technology more frequently and in more innovative ways, and through this, I feel more in touch with our students and the way they navigate the world.

Last April, during the first lockdown, I began RNCM Elevenses – an online tea break open to all students and staff at the College. These daily chats with an ever-changing group of participants have been incredibly motivating and a great chance to keep in touch, catch up and have fun in an informal setting. These virtual meetings are also now open to current offer holders, which provides a lovely opportunity to meet our next generation of students and to further widen our pool of conversational topics and views.

While I definitely miss bumping into our wonderful students at the RNCM, and I cannot wait until we are able to be together in person again, I believe that the skills and resources we’ve developed, initially out of necessity, will continue to enhance our experiences long into the future.

Michelle Phillips
Deputy Head of Undergraduate Programmes and Course Leader GRNCM
Principal Investigator, StART Entrepreneurship Project


Building Future Leaders
StART Entrepreneurship Project

The music industry is undeniably suffering right now, but in a time when the world is looking for new ways to make music, it is a joy to empower our students with the tools they need to help rebuild the industry and shape its future. One of the ways we are doing this right now is through the StART Entrepreneurship Project.

Our students have been developing some incredibly exciting and innovative ideas, and I have been inspired by their hunger to make a difference working with communities, developing health and wellbeing projects, and working with a diverse range of people and musical genres. We are providing them with the resources they need to realise these ideas, from practical and business skills to connecting them with other institutions and industry mentors. We’ve invited recent RNCM alumni to talk to current students about the incredible social entrepreneurship projects they have developed, including Jo Cheung (Olympias Music Foundation), Sam Davies (The Untold Orchestra) and Lucy Temby (SoundUp Arts). In turn, our students offered some brilliant advice on how our alumni might adapt their projects to our current circumstances.

To read more about Olympias Music Foundation’s Have Your Say project and watch the video-poems that were created for it, click here.

We are still right at the start of this major research project and already our students are buzzing with ideas. I cannot wait to see what else they come up with as the project develops.

The West End of Wales
St David’s Day Concert

The West End of Wales is a not for profit Community Interest Company set up by RNCM alumna Laura Llewellyn-Jones to support Welsh musicians who are currently out of work due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The virtual orchestra, including a number of RNCM alumni, will be joined by a stellar line-up of Welsh soloists and ensembles in an online concert to celebrate St David’s Day 2021.

Here is the ensemble performing All I Ask of You from The Phantom of The Opera.

More information, including full line-up and tickets can be found here.

Saturday Night Romance Concert
Scott Brothers Duo

RNCM Staff Pianist Jonathan Scott, and his brother Tom, both RNCM alumni, present a special online concert to celebrate Valentine’s Day: Saturday Night Romance. Featuring some of the most romantic music ever composed, the concert features solo performances, brand new duets, animation by Tom, and the première performance of the pair’s transcription of the second movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2 for piano duo.

For details of the full programme and to watch live, click here.

Here is the duo performing the Overture to Mozart’s Magic Flute, arranged for organ and piano by Jonathan.

Opportunities for Young Musicians
RNCM Young Strings

At RNCM Young Strings, the emphasis is on making music and enjoying it. The programme provides a thorough foundation in musical and instrumental skills for pupils aged 5-12 with a holistic, creative and fun approach. Here are some of our Young Strings tutors and pupils talking about the programme:

Our incredible Young Strings team are continuing to provide these unique opportunities for our young musicians online while they are unable to meet in person. Places are currently available for children aged 5-6 years, so if you know any budding young performers, please click here for more information.

Coming Up

RNCM Livestreams

Tue 16 Feb // 5pm
Insights // Live Q&A with Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard has been described as ‘a brilliant musician and an extraordinary visionary.’ As a pianist who revels in exploring the connections in music from every age, this discussion reveals Pierre-Laurent’s interest in transcending traditional boundaries in his performances.

Here is Pierre-Laurent’s impassioned performance of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 23:

Thu 18 Feb // 8pm
Thursday Lates Repeats // RNCM Miuawga Ensemble

Adam Swayne presents two sets of improvised music from performers across the RNCM, directed by the RNCM’s Head of Improvisation and Jazz, Steve Berry. To close the show, Adam talks to Steve and violin student Anna Rowland about the importance of improvisation in music education.

Full event listings and links to each livestream are available here, or watch over on Facebook.

Keep Music Playing Fund

Thank You for Your Continued Support 

‘In times like this, music – with its transcendental effects – is keeping people going. It’s never been more important to make sure there will always be people who can give that gift to the world.’ RNCM Donor

This past year has reminded us that we are part of a wonderful community of music lovers. Thanks to your support, we have raised over £250,000 to help cover our significant financial losses and to ensure that we are able to be there for each and every one of our students.

As we are forced to remain closed over the coming months and our financial situation sadly remains precarious, we will keep this vital fund open for further donations. For more information about how your gift will help, please click here.

Thank you to everyone who is continuing to support us. It has truly made a difference to know so many people are supporting us every step of the way, as we keep our music playing for you all.

12 February 2021