RNCM students are provided with a wealth of performance and personal development opportunities within and outside of College. 

All of these opportunities are geared towards enhancing professional skills and employability.

Performance Opportunities

Performance sits at the heart of the student experience at the RNCM. You will have the opportunity to participate in a broad range of performance activities including orchestral projects, opera, Session Orchestra, Big Band, chamber music and smaller-scale solo and duo opportunities. For example, our students have the opportunity to perform to a public audience through our weekly lunchtime concerts in the RNCM Concert Hall.

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You’ll also have the chance to be inspired and to learn from some of the world’s leading musicians through a series of masterclasses, coaching, lectures and festivals.

I am so grateful to have had so many performance opportunities at such an early stage in my development as it has provided an excellent foundation for me to build on. I am very proud to say that I studied at the RNCM.
Kathryn Rudge, mezzo-soprano, 2011

Orchestras and Ensembles

Student orchestras include:

  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Concert Orchestra
  • Sinfonietta
  • Brass Band
  • Big Band
  • Brand New Orchestra
  • Chamber Orchestra
  • String Orchestra
  • Wind Orchestra
  • Session Orchestra

In addition, the College has Brass, Wind, Baroque, Jazz, Harp, Guitar, Percussion and Saxophone ensembles, as well as the Composers’ Lab and New ensembles, which perform composers’ new works.

College orchestra projects range from short, intense experiences focusing on individual works, to week-long, in-depth explorations of repertoire. These are regularly led by high-profile visiting conductors and professional orchestra leaders, while also often working directly with eminent visiting composers, and performing alongside renowned professional musicians and soloists. These include Sir Mark Elder (Hallé Orchestra), Jac van Steen (Ulster Orchestra), David Hill (BBC Singers), Garry Walker (Rheinische Philharmonie Koblenz), Henning Kraggerud (Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra), Ruth Rogers (London Mozart Players) and the composers Tansy Davies, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Thea Musgrave.

Our orchestras regularly perform across the UK with performances around North West England and annually at the Wigmore Hall, London. The Symphony Orchestra also enjoys a long-standing relationship as the festival orchestra-in-residence at the annual Cantiere Internazionale D’Arte di Montepulciano, Tuscany.

The Platform

The Platform is the RNCM’s international partnership programme for professional development, which provides over 400 opportunities each year for students to participate in auditions, rehearsals, education projects and public performances in the UK and Mainland Europe. In short, it offers an unrivalled breadth and depth of immersive learning experiences that develops the skills needed to become a professional musician.

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Over the past decade, the RNCM has established strong partnerships with the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, Manchester Camerata, the Black Dyke Band and Opera North. Now the College is proud to add the Academy of Ancient Music, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, European Chamber Academy, Foden’s Band, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, KorVest and the Orchestra of Opera North to the list, making The Platform one of the most sought-after schemes offered by a conservatoire.

Through The Platform at RNCM I have been fortunate enough to work with the BBC Philharmonic. It has been an incredible experience and I have gained invaluable insight and knowledge to what it’s like to rehearse and perform alongside musicians at the highest level of orchestral playing. This experience has opened my eyes to what the working orchestral world is like and I am extremely privileged to have been given this opportunity.
Stephanie Stamopoulos, BMus Cello

Read more about The Platform here.

Chamber Music

The RNCM has a thriving and energetic programme of chamber music coaching. Chamber music is at the heart of everything we do at the College, and you will be given valuable opportunities to develop your skills and music-making through masterclasses with internationally-renowned artists, a wide range of performances, and expert coaching.

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Tutors include former and current members of the Lindsay, Chilingirian, Talich, Takács and Skampa String Quartets, the Gould and Manchester Piano Trios, Ensemble 360, Zephyr Winds and Apollo Saxophone Quartet. The Studio has close links with chamber music organisations all over the world, and is the only UK member of the European Chamber Music Academy.

Chamber Music at the RNCM is a very rewarding experience. The College has so much to offer, including unlimited coaching with some of the world’s leading chamber musicians. I am a violinist in the Storm Quartet, and there are endless opportunities for all chamber music lovers. We as a quartet have been lucky enough to be asked to perform in gigs all around the UK and Channel Islands, and have been regularly coached by Petr Prause, Catherine Yates, Leonard Elschenbroich, among many others. We have also performed in a few masterclasses, one of which was run by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. There is always plenty going on in the chamber music aspect of College life, and as well as it helping to improve your playing technically and musically, it is of course very fun and sociable!
Ana Vandepeer, BMus Violin

Read more about Chamber Music at the RNCM here.

Historical Performance

At the RNCM you will be given the chance to enhance your knowledge of early performing styles and techniques and repertoire from the Renaissance to the early Romantic Period. You will benefit from the expertise of our specialist tutors and visiting artists, and our extensive collection of baroque instruments available for student loan.

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Your skills on both modern and historical instruments will be developed through our programme of chamber music coaching for classical string quartets, Baroque Ensembles and Classical Wind Ensembles, masterclasses with world-renowned guest artists, and performances with the RNCM Baroque Orchestra.

The RNCM tutors in Historical Performance, Roger Hamilton and Harvey Davies, are extremely enthusiastic about anybody getting involved and they have tailored programmes and performances around who is available and keen. It’s easy to set up a chamber ensemble and there are several concerts throughout the year devoted to period instruments. If you don’t play a historical instrument there are still hours of coaching each week available and you can take anything from Monteverdi to Schumann to the very experienced tutors.
Amy Roberts, BMus Baroque Oboe

Read more about Historical Performance at the RNCM here.


The RNCM provides you with many opportunities to expand your experience and knowledge of jazz styles and improvisation skills through specialist jazz-based instrumental tuition, and jazz electives within your Academic Studies and Professional Skills activities.

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Training is delivered by a team of tutors and high-profile visiting musicians who are prolific on the professional jazz scene and well-respected as music educators. Performance opportunities include unique and exciting collaborative projects, masterclasses with international artists, and regular gigs with the Jazz Collective and RNCM Big Band.

One of the main reasons I chose to study at the RNCM was its jazz scene. With the RNCM Big Band, over the past year I’ve performed alongside eminent British jazz musicians including Julian Joseph, Tim Garland and Mark Nightingale, and I’ve been broadcast live on Radio 3 in a revival of the music of the Northern Dance Orchestra. The North West boasts a vibrant jazz culture: I’ve performed in jazz chamber groups at the Manchester Jazz Festival and Bridgewater Hall, as well as further afield at the Marsden and Bollington Festivals. Whether it be New Orleans, swing, cool or modern jazz, here at RNCM, there are countless opportunities for keen jazz musicians.
James Girling, BMus Classical Guitar

Enhancing Employability

As a student at the RNCM you’ll be encouraged from the outset to look beyond your studies to your future career.

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The RNCM provides opportunities to help students to develop the confidence, drive and communication skills needed to establish and maintain a successful career in a competitive work sector.

Professional Experience Schemes

RNCM students can audition for a place on one of the College’s highly regarded Professional Experience Schemes with a number of renowned orchestras and arts organisations. Every year we place over 60 of our students on these schemes, which provide invaluable insight into these organisations.

Work experience placements

Every Bachelor of Music student will undertake at least one placement during their studies. As well as the opportunity to apply for a Professional Experience Scheme, we offer a diverse range of placements across the music sector, including education, arts administration/management, marketing and concert management. You will have to apply and attend an interview for each placement, providing you with the opportunity to develop your professional skills.

Professional Engagements

The RNCM Professional Engagements Team sources and coordinates over 350 external performance opportunities for our students each year. These engagements provide our students with invaluable paid public performance opportunities, and range from solo recitals to chamber music engagements.

Through the RNCM Professional Engagements team, students have performed at a wide variety of venues around the country including The Bridgewater Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Manchester City Football Club.

RNCM Engage

Working with the wider community is an integral part of a musician’s career. RNCM Engage has a Learning and Participation strand which makes musical performance accessible to people through all walks of life. RNCM Engage has strong relationships with schools, hospitals and community groups throughout the North West and initiates projects to provide you with the necessary skills and experience to work in the community.

RNCM Student Ambassador Scheme

The RNCM Student Ambassador Scheme is operated by the Marketing team and enables current students to apply for paid work opportunities in their spare time. Student Ambassadors support and assist Marketing activities throughout the year, often at events within College, including meeting and talking to prospective students at Open Days.

Student Exchange

The RNCM has links with conservatoires across the world and is fully committed to student exchanges. This means that during your time at the RNCM you could broaden your horizons still further by studying abroad – for a full academic year, or just for a term or two.

Exchanges within Europe
Under the Erasmus programme, which encourages mobility between conservatoires within Europe, exchanges can be arranged for up to 10 months. These attract a monthly allowance for living expenses. There is no extra cost in terms of fees.

Exchanges outside Europe
Exchanges with institutions outside Europe are arranged on an individual basis, dependent upon reciprocal arrangements being made.

In my year abroad I went to the Folkwang university of the Arts in Essen, Germany, to study with Christopher Houlding. The experience was one that I would treasure for a lifetime and I have made friends that will stay with me for life. Alongside learning valuable skills on my insrument, the experience as whole has given me the confidence to push myself more in life.
Alistair Gibson, BMus Trombone