BMus (Wind, Brass and Percussion)

  • Application deadline
    24 March 2023
  • Course duration
    4 years
  • Course accreditation
    Trinity Accredited Course
  • Course fee
    €3,000 per annum
  • Course fee (non-EU/EEA)
    €21,000 per annum

Course Introduction

An Introduction from the Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion, David Collins

The RIAM Wind, Brass and Percussion department are proud of our student focused approach to learning and development and the calibre of our students and graduates.

Our students take priority at every stage of our degree programmes and we welcome regular international visiting artists and teachers for masterclasses and collaborative projects.

Additionally, all Bachelor and Masters students receive 2 hours of individual tuition each week which is unrivalled nationally. Feedback at weekly performance class, repertoire sessions, audition training and screened auditions all prepare our students with the skills they need to successfully negotiate and strive in the profession.

We want our students to have an experience that mirrors directly the music profession. Orchestral playing is a core element of your training at the RIAM and our teaching faculty are drawn from RTÉ National Symphony, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra and contemporary music group Crash Ensemble.

In addition to intensive RIAM Podium projects led by international conductors, the RIAM offers side by side scheme opportunities with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra as well as internal and external competitions, all of which make the RIAM the ideal place to study.

The relatively small department size means that students receive more time working with visiting artists, more orchestral performance opportunities and a closer working relationship with our teaching faculty. RIAM Alumni from our Wind, Brass and Percussion department currently hold positions in orchestras across Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Recent WBP masterclasses include visits from Jörg Widmann (RIAM International Visting Artist), Sir. James Galway, Peter Whelan, Marie-Luise Neunecker, Häkan Hardenberger and David Herbert.

Head of Woodwind, Brass & Percussion: David Collins

Photo: Colm Hogan

Course Outline

Course overview

The Bachelor in Music (BMus) degree is four years long. Each study year has 30 weeks in total from September to June - 24 academic teaching weeks and six performance spotlight weeks. There are no academic classes during the performance spotlight weeks, but your practical lessons continue across all weeks.

The performance spotlight weeks provide you with the time and space to focus solely on WBP solo or ensemble projects with international and national tutors and conductors.

The BMus degree at the RIAM takes in small numbers of WBP students each year, and this is for a reason. If you study with us we will give you a lot of contact time with expert tutors. This includes:

  • Two hours each week in your one-to-one lesson
  • An hour a week with an accompanist
  • Weekly chamber music coaching
  • Access to a range of orchestral opportunities
  • Frequent masterclasses
  • Small academic classes to help you excel in theoretical studies

5 pillars of study

The course consists of five pillars:

  • Principal Study
  • Chamber Music
  • Large Ensemble Performance
  • Supporting Academic Studies
  • RIAM Holistic – the working musician

Principal Study

At the heart of the BMus WBP programme are core lessons with your principal study teacher. You will have two hours of one-to-one lessons per week, supported by a further hour each week with your piano accompanist. In addition, weekly performance classes and frequent masterclasses with international artists ensure that WBP players are able to grow technically and musically over the four years of the programme.

Years 1 and 2 support you in underpinning and maximizing your technique.  Mid-year technical exams focus on mastery of the required studies and ability to sight-read.  The end-of-year exams require performances of suitable repertoire to highlight your developing skills.

Years 3 and 4 focus on helping you develop to a professional standard.  The mid-year exam in year 3 is a mock orchestral audition, and in year 4 is a full Concerto performance.  The end of year exams require you to perform standard recital repertoire and encourage performances of contemporary works.

Chamber Music

In all four years students are coached in chamber music by expert tutors. WBP players are encouraged to work in duos, trios and quartets. In later years, students tackle the larger WBP chamber repertoire up to dectets.

Our chamber musicians frequently perform in national and international venues such as the National Gallery of Ireland, American Irish Historical Society (New York) and the Centre Culturel Irlandais (Paris).

The RIAM Percussion Ensemble is a dedicated group that performs cornerstones of the percussion chamber repertoire under the guidance of Principal Percussion at the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Richard O’Donnell. This group performs in the USA annually and commissions works from exciting young composers to add to the repertoire for this ensemble type.

Large Ensemble Performance

Throughout the 4 years you will take part in RIAM Podium, the Centre for Performing Ensembles. WBP students will perform in the following ensembles:

  • The RIAM Philharmonia, a sinfonietta orchestra specialising in late 18th century repertoire and cornerstones of the 20th century
  • RIAM Wind Ensemble, an un-conducted group
  • RIAM Early Music Ensemble, learning the techniques of 17th century by using Baroque instruments
  • RIAM Opera Orchestra, which accompanies the RIAM’s fully-staged projects
  • RIAM Contemporary Music Ensemble, tackling 20th century and premiering newly written works

RIAM also has professional mentoring agreements for WBP students with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra and Irish Baroque Orchestra

Supporting Academic Studies

The academic component of the degree adds an intellectual foundation to your practical WBP studies, making you a more thoughtful and interesting musician.

In years one to three, you will study a number of core modules: Harmony and Counterpoint, Aural training, Analysis and History. There are also shorter modules in Music Technology, Instrumental Pedagogy, and Free Composition.

In Year four you have the opportunity to explore a specialist elective of your own choice: Dissertation, Composition, Music technology, Analysis or Conducting.

RIAM Holistic- the working musician

The fifth pillar of study is designed to make you a flexible and adaptable artist, ready in mind and body for the demands of a portfolio career in music. Students study:

  • Career Strategy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • The principles of pedagogy
  • Music in the community
  • Contemporary music collaborations
  • Yoga and Feldenkrais
  • Performance psychology

 For a more detailed description of the course requirements, please refer to our course handbook

Performing Opportunities

  • Public Masterclass performance opportunities with visiting artists to the RIAM such as Jörg Widmann, Sir.James Galway, Michael Cox, Peter Whelan and Håkan Hardenberger from Ireland's only dedicated Wind, Brass and Percussion department.
  • Recent Audition Training workshops and coaching with members of the London Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Oper, Berlin and WDR Sinfonieorchester, Köln.
  • Guaranteed performance opportunities with the RIAM Philharmonia performing with world-renowned guest conductors and RIAM Opera Orchestra performing in fully staged opera productions. Additional performance opportunities both in Ireland and abroad with RIAM chamber wind and brass ensembles and RIAM Percussion Ensemble.
  • The opportunity to audition for Orchestral Mentoring Schemes with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra; in addition to collaboration with members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Career Destinations

The following are representative sample of RIAM's alumni in woodwind, brass and percussion:

Emer McDonough (Principal Flute Royal Philharmonic)

Fergus O’Carroll (Principal Horn RTE NSO)

Roger Moffatt (Percussion NSO)

Colm Byrne (Principal Trumpet NSO)

Caitriona Ryan (Principal Flute NSO)

Sinead Farrell, (Principal Piccolo NSO)

Cormac O hAodain, (Principal Horn RTECO)

James Dunne Principal (Percussion RTECO)

David Collins (Second Trumpet, Ulster Orchestra)

Kate Hearne (Winner, Montreal International Recorder Competition)

Why Choose Us

The RIAM accepts a very small number of entrants into its performance courses and there is keen competition for places each year.  Because of this, you are assured a very personal mentoring experience with great attention and guidance.

The teaching staff are proven performers in their own right who have an ever expanding legacy of successful students.

You will also be able to apply for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra and RTE Concert Orchestra mentoring schemes, which offer the opportunity to hone your skills and develop networks to gain freelance and full-time professional work in the future.

Dublin is a bustling and vibrant capital city of Ireland, now the only English-speaking country in the EU.

Ireland is ranked 10th in the Global peace Index and is therefore one of the most peaceful countries in the world to study.

As an associate college of Trinity College, the University of Dublin, RIAM students graduate with a degree from one of the top universities in the world. RIAM students have access to Trinity’s gym, sports clubs, and the college’s societies. You can have the university experience, but with classes in the intimate setting of a conservatoire.




Entry Requirements

The closing date for applications is 21 December 2022. 

Auditions are held in January. 

You will be asked to perform two contrasting pieces after which there will be a short interview.

You will also take a written theory test and an aural test. You don’t need to have studied grades to apply, but we do recommend Grade 6 RIAM Local Centre/ABRSM theory level as a minimum standard.

Normally applicants receive their result within one month of the audition/interview.

Full details about entry requirements can be found at the following link: Undergraduate Entry Requirements

Course handbook

The current version of the course handbook is available at the link below:

BMus (Wind, Brass and Percussion) Handbook