Our HND programme makes up the first two years of a full Honours degree in music offered at Edinburgh College. Students may leave after the first year with an HNC, after two years with an HND, and after three years with a BMus Honours degree. Our HND is awarded by SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority).
We welcome applicants from all musical backgrounds and disciplines, including classical, popular, traditional, and jazz.
Students wishing to focus on classical, traditional or jazz music should apply to our Sighthill campus. Those wishing to focus on popular music can apply to either Sighthill or Milton Road.
HN students receive twenty hours of instrumental, vocal or composition lessons over the course of each academic year. A range of classes and activities supports the individual lessons; these depend on students’ first study instruments and interests.
Students have many opportunities to rehearse and perform with other musicians in supervised groups such as bands, ensembles, choirs and orchestras as appropriate; they also gain experience as both performer and engineer in the recording studio. Performance classes for students focusing on popular music involves two-three hours a week of rehearsing and performing in bands, typically involving a singer, two guitars, bass and drums, with regular input from a lecturer; there are also opportunities to rehearse independently. Students work through a wide range of different genres, and there are opportunities for individuals to take increasing ownership of their material as they progress through the years. Classes culminate in gigs in our excellent in-house spaces and in some of Edinburgh’s favourite music venues. Many students also take their learning into bands outside the college.
Performance classes for students focusing on classical music involve regular rehearsal sessions with an accompanist, and numerous opportunities to perform to lecturers and classmates. Many students work towards ABRSM or Trinity grade exams or diplomas alongside their preparation for ambitious end-of-year recitals. There are also frequent solo roles in our larger ensembles.
Jazz improvisation is a real strength at the college. Many students are introduced to elements of improvisation in the earlier years, and the discipline can become a major focus in the later ones. There are dedicated improvisation classes in the second year of the HND programme and in the BMus programme; students work in both small and large groups, learning from each other as well as lecturers. The college big band provides further fantastic opportunities for students to develop their improvisation skills.
Our HND also offers the chance to hone skills in various other practical and creative disciplines: second study instrument, keyboard skills, songwriting, composition, and vocal ensemble work. In the second year, students can explore further exciting fields such as music for film and television, community music, work experience, instrumental accompaniment, instrumental instruction, and improvisation.
Students work through a comprehensive introduction to the industry and develop academic skills through researching, writing and presenting about subjects pertinent to their own instrument and practice. They may also train towards external music theory exams (awarded by London College of Music and/or Trinity/Guildhall); these are important benchmarks highly valued by ourselves as well as by universities.
** To apply for this course please read and follow the 'audition instructions' information in the interview requirements section (below) **
- Instrumental/Vocal Skills
- Group Music Making
- Music Business for Musicians
- Music History
- Academic Skills
- Music Theory (including optional external exams)
- Work placement is a core HND unit. We have lots of creative and cultural partners across the city and region offering a range of placement opportunities.
- SQA Higher Music (or equivalent experience) and two other Highers
- Knowledge of music theory at Grade 5 level
- Instrumental playing or singing at Grade 6 level
- Some band or ensemble experience
English Proficiency Requirements
How the course is assessed
- You will be assessed through a variety of practical tasks, written assignments and timed assessments.
Information on Test/Auditions/Interview Requirements
When you submit an application, please specify your first study instrument (or voice), and whether you wish to study classical or popular music, at the beginning of your personal statement
Audition Instructions February 2021
Please record a video in which you
a) introduce yourself and
b) play or sing two short contrasting pieces on your first instrument.
In your introduction:
- give your name and say where you are from
- say a little bit about your musical experience (including how long you have been playing or singing, and any experience of playing with other people in bands or ensembles)
- say which if any music exams you have done (within school and/or outside school)
- say which pieces you are going to play or sing, and (if you can) say why you chose them
In your playing or singing:
- please make every effort to use backing tracks/accompaniment where appropriate. If you can’t source backing tracks/accompaniment, please play or sing unaccompanied.
The video should be uploaded to YouTube as per instructions here:
Please be careful to upload the video as ‘unlisted’ rather than ‘private’.
Please name the video in the following format:
your name – your chosen course and campus – your instrument, e.g.
Laurie Crump HND Music Sighthill recorder.
Please then put a link to the video within the personal statement section of your application.
Our staff will review your application and, in some cases, they will follow up by giving you a phone or video call. If you don't get a call, don't worry! It will be because the staff have got all the information they need from your video and the rest of your application.
If you can’t submit a video because you don't have an instrument at home (e.g. if you are a first study percussionist), or for any other reason, please let us know and we arrange an interview with you by phone or video call.
We also ask you to complete a short online music theory test which you can find at the link below:
The access code is 'ECM21'. You are allowed one attempt at the test. Please complete the test within a few days of completing your college application.
Please note: you may be offered a place on a course of a different level than the one you applied for. The staff team will place you on the course that they believe will best suit your needs and allow you to develop and progress within the department and beyond.
Progression And Articulation Routes
Students who successfully complete our HND with an A or B in Graded Unit 2 are guaranteed a place on our Bachelor of Music Honours degree, delivered in partnership with Kingston University, London. Our degree is unique in that only 1 year of study is required to top up the HND to a BMus (Hons) due to being validated by an English university.
We also support students to make applications to universities or other institutions during the HNC or the HND years, should they wish. In recent years, music students have progressed to Aberdeen, Abertay (Dundee), Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow and Manchester universities, as well as Leeds College of Music and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
BA (Hons) Popular Music, year 3 entry at University of Highlands and Islands
- Performing musician
- Classroom teacher
- Instrumental or vocal teacher
- Community musician
Course Cost And Funding Options
‘My time at college was a bridge from growing up in the Highlands of Scotland with no formal singing training to completing an honours degree in Vocal Studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I am now working full time as a self-employed musician.
It is no exaggeration to say that I LOVED my time at college – easily the happiest two years of my life. The hands-on and student-focused approach of the college was exactly what I needed to thrive. What I remember best is the enthusiasm of the staff who were always looking for new ways to get the best outcomes. The staff at Edinburgh College create an inclusive and friendly environment that makes you want to turn up, learn and develop your skills and knowledge. They always go out of their way to help you, with both your college work and with applications for jobs or universities. Furthermore, they are always there for you, and you feel like you could talk to any of the staff and that they would listen to any problems or worries that you have.
During college I was given the opportunity to teach music at local primary schools. This experience introduced me to primary teaching and ultimately influenced my decision to become a primary school teacher. The staff even extended opportunities to me after I had left college encouraging me to take part in their music tour of the Highlands which was a fantastic experience, which I will never forget. Edinburgh College truly opened up possibilities for me, both academically and as a person. I would not be where I am without the college and the staff, as they have helped shape and develop me and are still influencing me today. Thank you for everything.’
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