Popular Music – Audition Requirements

Your audition will last 60 minutes, which includes a 20-minute warm-up.

This is your chance to shine, so it’s good to remember that during this time we’ll be looking for candidates who demonstrate a high level of technical proficiency, musicality, confidence and communication and stylistic understanding through their performance.

It’s also worth noting that the audition will include a short theory exam, after which the panel will ask some general questions in order to get to know you a little more and to assess your suitability for the course. To help you prepare, typical points of discussion we’ll be looking for at interview include: a clear understanding for choosing this programme; your ability to self-reflect and articulate your strengths and areas for development; your understanding of the popular music industry and the employment potential within it.

While you’re at the College, undergraduate applicants will be asked to complete a short multiple choice test lasting around 45 minutes, equivalent to ABRSM Grade 5 Theory. This will take place on site and is designed to help us understand more about your knowledge of music theory, general musicianship and contextual awareness. The test isn’t pass or fail, but results may be used in cases where a decision is difficult to reach on the basis of the practical audition alone.

Please use the menu below to find full audition requirements for your programme, but if you’ve any queries please email info@rncm.ac.uk or call 0161 907 5465.


You should perform ONE piece of your own choice performed to a MP3 backing track (provided by the candidate) and ONE piece from the following list (backing tracks provided by RNCM):

  • Bass Guitar: Canned Heat Jamiroquai
  • Drum Kit: Stand Up The PB Underground
  • Electric Guitar: Beat It Michael Jackson
  • Keyboards: High and Dry Jamie Cullum
  • Voice (female): New York Paloma Faith
  • Voice (male): She’s Always a Woman Billy Joel

You should not perform graded examination pieces.


You should prepare THREE contrasting pieces/songs that demonstrate a range of technical and musical challenges appropriate to postgraduate-level study.

The interview element of your audition will last 45 minutes. during which time you’ll be asked to discuss:

  • Your project plan – ideas of what you would like to achieve during the programme
  • Clear rationale for choosing the RNCM
  • Ability to self-reflect and articulate own strengths and areas for development
  • Understanding of the popular music industry and employment potential within it

Audition Equipment

We will provide the following equipment for auditions taking place at the RNCM:

  • Fender Blues Junior III Guitar Amp
  • Aguilar Tone Hammer Bass Amp
  • Roland RD700-NX Stage Piano
  • Yamaha Stage Custom 5-piece Drum Kit
  • PA System (with phono to mini-jack for MP3 players)

Candidates are required to provide the following:

  • Guitars, Bass Guitars and additional Keyboards (as appropriate)
  • Leads and pedals (as appropriate)
  • MP3 player
  • Backing tracks for own choice pieces
  • Drummers are advised to bring their own breakables

Note: Vocalists must perform without a microphone

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