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.

Push your boundaries with expert-led, intensive training in solo, orchestral and ensemble playing that evokes a spirit of creativity and collaboration. The central ethos of the department is team spirit, unity and collaboration, working alongside the teachers as fellow professionals.

Why study percussion at RWCMD?

  • Immersion in professional culture and industry links: you'll be treated as a professional from day one. Opportunities include the chance to audition for placement schemes with BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBCNOW) and Welsh National Opera (WNO), working alongside professional musicians.
  • The small, nurturing department means the focus is your particular interest and exploration. Community music making, teaching and other aspects of music are given equal billing with the more traditional career paths.
  • Diversity of repertoire, which includes studying with Dan Ellis, one of the leading West End and commercial percussionists, Sidiki Dembele, one of the most exciting collaborative world percussionists, and tutor Owen Gunnell who has one of the most diverse percussion careers, from his percussion duo O Duo, the Colin Currie Quartet and freelancing with all the major UK orchestras.
  • You can gain valuable skills and experience through our active outreach programme, looking outside your own focused training to provide educational workshops to local schools and community groups, leading and mentoring the next generation.
  • A career in percussion isn’t just about getting into an orchestra. Employability is built into the course and our teachers are industry leaders representing the many different avenues of a modern career e.g. Matthew French, West End drumkit player.
  • Through individual lessons with our acclaimed teaching staff, you’ll develop a sound technique in timpani and percussion playing, as well as a thorough understanding of the orchestral repertoire.
  • Your repertoire sessions will take the form of mock auditions or orchestral technique classes under the guidance of Henry Baldwin, section principal percussionist Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
  • Performing is a fundamental part of your course: You’ll be a member of our percussion ensemble where you’ll perform at the College and at external venues in Cardiff and beyond.
  • All of the percussion places in our many different College ensembles are held by the students in our department, giving you additional performing experience and a chance to really hone your craft.
  • You’ll have regular masterclasses and workshops with distinguished visiting artists from around the world who you can learn from and perform with. Previous masterclass artists include Toby Kearney, Matt King, Steve Whibley, Chris Ridley, Sam Walton and Steve Quigley. Our relationship with Colin Currie has seen students perform with Colin and also in concert with the Colin Currie Quartet.
  • We offer additional one-to-one tuition in drum kit and specialist group sessions in Latin American percussion. Dan Ellis and Sidiki Dembele complete the teaching staff, offering tuition in commercial and world percussion.
  • We constantly review and update our comprehensive range of percussion instruments, which include a new five octave marimba and German calf-headed timpani.

Collaboration and creativity

Collaboration and creativity is a focus for all of the percussionists at RWCMD, within the department and throughout the College. Students are encouraged to develop their own relationships with different instrumentalists and the many other exciting opportunities in drama and musical theatre. Or example, recent graduates have been performing at this year’s Edinburgh Festival having created their own music and drama collaboration.

Building a lasting, meaningful career

As time progresses throughout your course, you’ll have regular contact with the head of department and your tutors, who will all help to create the best career pathway for your skills and aspirations.

Many of our graduates enjoy varied freelance careers, or a ‘portfolio career,’ working with the local orchestras, such as Welsh National Opera and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Sinfonia Cymru. Others have gone on to outreach opportunities, teaching and recording careers. Recent graduates include Paul Stoneham, co-principal percussionist of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Matthew Hardy, principal timpanist of the CBSO. Recent graduate Mary Johnson, co-founder of the Flying Bedroom Company – a collaborative immersive theatre project that combines collaboration, community engagement, music and drama, demonstrates the strength of the multidisciplinary approach between departments at the College.

Led by Percussionist Patrick King

Patrick King, Head of Percussion Performance, is also an active freelance musician working as a timpanist and percussionist throughout the UK. Patrick works regularly for orchestras including WNO, LSO and RPO.

Formerly the principal timpanist with Welsh National Opera Orchestra (2008-2022). Patrick now combines his role at RWCMD with his varied orchestral and education work.

  • 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.

Sign Up to Receive Updates

To receive further information on studying with us, please sign up below.

An email asking you to confirm your address will be sent. Please check your spam / junk folder if the email doesn’t arrive within a few minutes.


Latest from the Blog