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.

Immerse yourself in tailored, professional training with some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians. You’ll study in small groups with unrivalled opportunities to perform and become part of a thriving jazz scene.

Why study jazz at RWCMD?

  • You’ll have one-to-one lessons with multiple leading UK professional musicians, not just one – these tutors all have different approaches and specialisms, so you can determine what works best for you and then adapt your training throughout your course.
  • You’ll examine jazz repertoire and style – learning about origins, jazz development through the decades and the socio-political conditions that it emerged from to inform your performance.
  • You’ll have plenty of opportunities to collaborate – setting up ensembles with your fellow jazz students, working with other music departments and all disciplines across the College. You’ll be able to play a pivotal role in RWCMD’s active, public programme of jazz, opera, musical theatre, orchestral concerts and award-winning drama.
  • You’ll be at the heart of the jazz scene here in Cardiff, with several of our students and graduates setting up and curating many of the gigs in the city centre – which you can take part in too.
  • We have a range of large Jazz ensembles; the RWCMD Big band, Repertoire Big band, a weekly jam session with guests and focused instrument / vocal performance projects.

One-to-one tuition and group classes across a variety of genres

Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you’ll develop an individual, stylistic artistic position – a creative stance – and work to become the best jazz musician you can be.

You’ll get one-on-one tuition on your instrument of choice: bass, drums, flute, guitar, piano, saxophone, trombone, trumpet or voice. If what you’d like to study is not in this list, then you’ll just need to confirm it with us beforehand.

Technical skills and transcription classes will supplement your one-to-one lessons. And in our small group classes, you’ll focus on rehearsing material from a variety of genres under the jazz umbrella, including standard, contemporary and world repertoire.

Professional skills and development

As a creative artist studying here, you’ll challenge your aesthetic and critical responses to music, helping you to find out what you like – and what you don't like.

Our goal is to equip you with a solid understanding of the many styles jazz has to offer – but also guide you in becoming an individual but well-rounded and employable musician.

So, you’ll not only build your knowledge of jazz language, processes and repertoire, but you’ll also develop skills in:

  • composing
  • arranging
  • band leadership
  • self-promotion
  • events management

As you approach your final period of study, you can choose modules that will help you focus on the area you want to work in after graduation, such as performing, writing or teaching.

Collaboration across the department and College

The possibilities are varied and unlimited: you can take part in smaller, creative collaboration projects, larger ensembles or work with different departments. You could be a session musician in a big band or the jazz choir, or even work with our musical theatre students or on a drama production.

Jazz is a highly interactive, collaborative form, so another vital component to your training is ensemble playing.

Here, you’ll get that incomparable experience of being in the moment, creating with other singers and musicians on stage. It's not so much how you play – it's what you play and how you make that music work together.

Opportunities to perform

Performance is at the heart of all our courses and a crucial element in your training.

All of our performances – including your assessments and exams – are given in public on a professional stage, whether that's in our concert hall or the Richard Burton Theatre. And that means you'll have a professional technical team operating the sound and lighting, giving you a real feel for what it’s like to play professionally in front of a live audience on a regular basis.

Many students go on to form their own ensembles – so as well as being placed in a group as you progress through your course – you’ll also find your musical soulmates and get constant opportunities to perform with them throughout the year.

Student-led jazz sessions every Friday - AmserJazzTime

For hands-on experience in planning and presenting live performances – and performing with your own group – you can take part in our hugely popular, student-led JazzTime sessions every Friday evening. These are enjoyed by a loyal public audience, who range from seasoned aficionados to casual music lovers.

Play at our yearly jazz festival

The summer term culminates in a jazz festival here at the College. The festival and arts venue tour offer you a platform to showcase your work to new audiences – while also gaining valuable professional experience.

Previous jazz festival headliners include Quercus, Jean Toussaint’s Roots and Herbs, Vento Em Madeira, Get the Blessing, John Taylor and the Darius Brubeck Quartet. The department regularly performs at jazz festivals across the UK, including London Jazz.

Taught by acclaimed professional musicians

From our 25-strong team of tutors – all leading UK professionals – you’ll have two or three who will lead your one-to-one lessons.

Working with a range of specialists with different approaches gives you a broader perspective of the form – and industry – and allows you to tailor your training as you go through your course.

Led by leading educator and musician

Paula Gardiner, head of the jazz department, is an acclaimed jazz bassist and composer, who has written extensively for theatre, radio and film, as well as releasing several recordings under her own name. She was nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award for education and is an active member of the Ivors Academy Jazz Council.

She has worked all over the world, sharing her music across a diverse range of projects. Her approach to music is one that explores crossing boundaries and brings this ethos to the jazz programmes here at RWCMD.

  • 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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