We are still accepting applications for the BMus (Hons) Music (for the vocal, instrumental & composition pathways) and BMus (Hons) Jazz courses. Places are subject to availability. Please get in touch with our Admissions Team before submitting an application.
Awaken your musical creativity and curiosity to become a versatile guitarist with a powerful artistic identity and the skills to thrive in today’s professional world.
Why study guitar at RWCMD?
- Our personalised approach offers you a wide variety of opportunities to perform both in the College and external public venues, as well as take part in collaborative chamber music and work with younger guitarists in the local community, encouraging you to develop your own individual and strong artistic voice.
- You’ll train with eminent musicians with decades of professional experience, including Head of department, Helen Sanderson, and our current guest tutors, Zoran Dukić and John Mills.
- Your intensive solo studies will be enhanced by individual lessons and masterclasses from prestigious visiting artists. Recent visitors have included Gabriel Bianco, Margarita Escarpa and Xuefei Yang, Pavel Steidel, Andrey Lebedev and Jørgen Skogmo.
- Chamber music is very much at the heart of what we do and you’ll work collaboratively with other guitarists and musicians in small groups, as well as larger chamber setting with weekly coaching and rehearsals. You’ll also perform with the whole department in our guitar ensemble which has an active, public concert schedule.
- A unique aspect of our programmes are the significant and varied opportunities for project-based collaboration across College. The guitar department nurtures creativity beyond your solo studies, developing work with other departments, for example performing with puppetry and with composers. This gives you insight into the inner workings of other artistic disciplines and being a part of RWCMD’s active public programme of opera, orchestral concerts, musical theatre and award-winning drama.
- Your guitar-focused musicianship classes will develop your arranging skills and give you opportunities to explore performance styles from the 16th century onwards, including figured bass, lute tablature and contemporary extended guitar techniques.
Arranging and composing
A key element of the course is arranging. We’ll work alongside you to develop these skills, in both theory and practice as your portfolio of arrangements will be carried forward into your chamber performance assessment, giving you a practical application of this essential craft. You can also develop your compositional style and expertise – for example, some of our students have written pieces which have been included in current guitar exam syllabuses.
Creative and entrepreneurial skills
Guitarists working in the industry today need so many different skills, and workshop leadership and teaching are an essential part of that skillset. You’ll naturally develop some of these skills during your time here, but you can also take part in many guitar-specific events to hone your craft in these areas.
We’re often found in the local community working with younger guitarists, and they visit us in the College as well, giving you that vital, practical experience of guiding the next generation of guitarists here in Wales.
For example, the department has spent the last couple of terms working on Twilight Guitar, a project bringing guitar tutoring skills to non-specialist primary teachers and we are now launching a pilot scheme in two primary schools which will be supported and delivered by RWCMD guitarists giving them invaluable teaching experience. Another example of our creative and entrepreneurial approach is our collaboration with a PhD researcher to build a prototype for an accessible guitar to enable those with a physical disability to access playing the instrument.
Julian Bream was also a longstanding supporter who contributed many guitar scores, a valuable collection of lute scores and treatises, a concert guitar for use by the department, and a large part of his art collection, which is on display in our Western Gallery where we rehearse and perform.
Led by a world-renowned performer and educator
Helen Sanderson, Head of Guitar performance, is an educator, international performer, arranger, composer, creative entrepreneur and recipient of the Winston Churchill Fellowship.
Her career has largely focused on chamber music, with performances at landmark places like the Southbank Centre, Kings Place and the Guitar Foundation of America. She’s also recorded with acclaimed musicians such as the VIDA Guitar Quartet, James Bowman and Mark Wilde.
Outside of performing, Helen is often invited to sit on competition juries including BBC Young Musician of the Year, the London International Guitar Competition and the Sky Arts series Guitar Star.
Driven by the need to create opportunities for young guitarists, she founded the music education charity, Guitar Circus, home of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble and the World Youth Guitar Festival (which she is artistic director of) – roles where she’s gained invaluable experience in arts management. Helen is also a director of The F-List, an online directory set up to represent, support and inspire female+ musicians.
Find out more about RWCMD
- Our thriving, multicultural institution welcomes 800 students from more than 40 countries. You’ll train side-by-side with other instrumentalists, actors, singers, composers and performance designers and will work with them on projects throughout the year.
- Collaboration forms a huge part of what we do, allowing you to immerse yourself in new experiences with a broad range of disciplines and skills from across the college. Our unique student-led company REPCo, encourages students to work together to be bold, imaginative and entrepreneurial.
- Our industry partnerships provide real-world, enhanced learning experiences with leading arts organisations and professional musicians, also offering you opportunities to build your future professional networks.
- RWCMD is a vibrant arts centre staging 500 performances a year (many of which are free) which are a combination of world-leading artists and student work, often side by side. Regular major events at RWCMD include BBC Young Musician of the Year, and BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and standalone events such as the World Harp Congress in July 2022.
- The College is the first UK conservatoire to achieve a gold standard level of quality assurance across Music, Drama and Under 18s in the recent international MusiQuE, Music Quality Enhancement review. Reviewers were particularly impressed with the College's approach to the individual student experience, multidisciplinary collaboration, and overall ambition, citing RWCMD as a shining example of best practice across European conservatoires, and reflecting the College's exceptional people and unique community.
- As the world’s only Steinway-exclusive conservatoire the College now has a world-leading fleet of pianos, and every acoustic piano at the College is a Steinway.
- We fundamentally believe in the power of music to transform and enrich society, developing skills in teaching, coaching and co-creating projects to create musicians of the future who will make an impact as performers, teachers and enablers within the broader community. Fundamental questions - ‘How can we shape the industry of the future’, ‘How can we use art to make a difference’ - help us to produce musicians who are truly relevant to a 21st Century world.
- You’ll practice, study and perform in a beautiful, inspiring setting, bordering Bute Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city. We have a chamber music hall with extraordinary acoustics, a glass-lined foyer and performance space, the Richard Burton Theatre, as well as state-of-the-art studios and rehearsal spaces.
- Our campus is right in the centre of Cardiff, the UK’s first Music City, and the thriving, compact capital of Wales, which is only two hours by train to central London.
- Cardiff was named as the most cost-effective city in the UK for students, according to the NatWest Student Living Index 2022.
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