A one-year, full-time preparation course for Higher Education study in music. It is designed to give students an opportunity to strengthen their experience in several important areas before embarking on a Higher Education course. These include ensemble playing and singing, solo instrumental/vocal technique, academic work and music theory. A solid background in these areas gives students the best chance of success in degree-level study.
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.
The programme sits at Level 6 within the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework – the level which is directly below the first year of Higher Education study. SCQF Level 6 also includes SQA Highers, and many of our Level 6 students already have Higher Music (and/or Advanced Higher) before they start the course. However, completing the NC Level 6 programme is very different to completing Higher or Advanced Higher Music: because it is a full-time course, we are able to provide a far broader and deeper curriculum than what can be delivered within music at school.
As well as regular one-to-one tuition in a first study instrument from an experienced specialist, students rehearse and perform extensively in supervised groups (bands, ensembles, choirs and orchestras as appropriate). Performances classes for students focusing on popular music involve 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 alongside their preparation for end-of-year recitals.
Students also acquire fluency in using various kinds of music software, develop composition and songwriting skills in dedicated classes, study a series of set works, learn how to research and write about music, work through an introduction to the industry, and complete a thorough course in music theory.
** Please read and follow the 'audition instructions' information in the 'interview requirements' section below when applying for this course **
- Instrumental/Vocal Skills
- Group Music Making
- Music Software
- Composition and Songwriting Skills
- Set Works
- Researching and Writing about Music
- An Introduction to the Industry
- Music Theory (including optional external exams)
- Four qualifications at SQCF Level 5, including Music and English
- Basic knowledge of music theory
- Grade 4 standard instrument/voice
English Proficiency Requirements
How the course is assessed
- 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
- Higher National Certificate/Diploma (Level 8) programme, which can lead to our Bachelor of Music Honours degree.
- We also support students to make applications to universities or other institutions during the course of the year, should they wish to.
- Performing musician
- Classroom teacher
- Instrumental or vocal teacher
- Community musician
Course Cost And Funding Options
‘College was an essential step for me. Having very little idea of what I wanted to do after school (and going from philosophy to musical theater to systematic theology to unemployed) I fell upon Edinburgh College's music course. They were willing to take me on at the level I was at (of course they saw all the hidden potential!) and help me grow from there. I met lots of people, some who liked similar music to me and others who didn't, but who introduced to things I now love. My time at college helped me mature in terms of practical work, academic study and professional attitude. I left school unable to get into a university course and now I am applying for a Masters. I wouldn't have got to where I am without the course and the lecturers who ran it.’
‘I began studying at the college because I didn’t have anywhere else to go that would have accepted my low grades. Music was my only Advanced Higher along with a C in Higher Art. Edinburgh College accepted me on to their foundation-level course which I couldn’t believe mostly due to a severe lack of confidence in myself. Looking back, it is now quite apparent how the lecturers saw my potential rather than the grades I came to them with. Since then, I progressed through the higher levels of the music education they provide. They supported me tremendously at every turn in the road when I thought I couldn’t go any further. They encouraged me to join the National Youth Choir of Scotland, which I got into first time. I have since performed with them at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and in 2016 I joined them on their America tour. I am now in my first year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studying composition. I really owe all of my success in getting to where I am to the lecturers at Edinburgh College. They built me up and showed me what I could achieve rather than what I couldn’t. Thank you!’
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