'Every student who comes here is an individual artist with their own perspective on life. I seek to allow you the space to be yourself as well as to perform at the highest international level.'
The Strings Faculty at the Royal College of Music is a supportive community of talented individuals excited by the study and practice of music. From dedicated world-class professors to extensive performance opportunities in recital, chamber groups, large-scale ensembles and orchestras, the faculty will broaden your horizons and support you in reaching your full potential as an artist.
We provide string players with an innovative programme of study combining instrumental training of the highest calibre with the skills needed to succeed as an artist. Students have regular opportunities to learn from internationally renowned visiting artists through public masterclasses and orchestral performances with some of the world’s finest conductors.
One-to-one lessons with world-class professors are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. Our world-class professors, who are successful soloists, chamber musicians and orchestral players in their own right, offer invaluable support and have a proven record of leading students to success in competitions and in the profession.
Additionally, our visiting professors include some of today's greatest artists including Maxim Vengerov (Visiting Professor of Violin), Maxim Rysanov, Alina Ibragimova, Torleif Thedéen, Paul Ellison, Marisa Robles and guitarist John Williams.
Chamber music is a key part of your musical experience and RCM groups can receive unlimited chamber coaching from any professor. There are a variety of internal and external performance opportunities, festivals, collaborations and competitions for RCM chamber ensembles. Students benefit from the expertise of our Ensemble in Association, the Sacconi Quartet and our Quartet in Residence, the Harlem Quartet.
For students who want to develop skills in specialist areas, we offer additional tuition in jazz violin within the Strings Faculty, while lessons on period instruments are available through the Historical Performance Faculty.
We also offer an surgery run by our resident luthier, who provides maintenance and repairs, together with rehair facilities and practical advice.
'The RCM has helped me reach many of my goals by providing a lens on the different corners of the musical world.'
String quartet rehearsing
Guitar solo performance in lunchtime chamber concert in the RCM Museum
Masterclass with Maxim Vengerov, Polonsky Visiting Professor of Violin
Students rehearsing for a chamber concert
Harpist performing at Wigmore Hall
One-to-one lesson with Head of Strings Mark Messenger
Masterclass with Claire Jones
Cellist performing at Wigmore Hall
Students enjoy many opportunities to perform as part of a chamber group, both as part of the RCM’s chamber music concert series and at venues across London. Violinists, violists and cellists are able to work with professional accompanists to help develop their duo skills. In addition, we provide specially tailored ensemble opportunities for double bass, harp and guitar students.
Our students are offered as much orchestral experience as possible. A vibrant orchestral life exists across multiple ensembles, including the RCM Philharmonic, RCM Symphony Orchestra and RCM Opera Orchestra, plus many other smaller groups. We have benefitted from world class visiting conductors including Jessica Cottis, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sakari Oramo, Jac van Steen and John Wilson. Recent student performances have included Dutilleux’s Sur Le Même Accord, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat, Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Korngold’s Violin Concerto, Bottesini’s Double Bass Concerto and On Opened Ground by Mark-Anthony Turnage, the RCM Research Fellow for Composition.
Harpist in an orchestral rehearsal
Violinist in an orchestral rehearsal
Visiting conductor Vladimir Jurowski in rehearsal
RCM cellist Shizuku Tatsuno performing a solo with the RCM Symphony Orchestra
Visiting conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy in rehearsal
Double bass section enjoying a short break
Visiting conductor John Wilson in rehearsal
Recent visiting artists
Our students enjoy regular masterclasses with high-profile visitors including:
- Nicola Benedetti
- Paul Ellison
- Alina Ibragimova
- Maxim Rysanov
- Torleif Thedéen
- Maxim Vengerov (Polonsky Visiting Professor of Violin)
- John Williams
- Belcea Quartet
- Chilingirian Quartet
- Sacconi Quartet
- Esther Abrami
- Hugh Bean
- Levon Chilingirian
- Andrew Haveron
- Daniel Hope
- Alina Ibragimova
- Sir Neville Marriner
- Peter Oundjian
- Sasha Rozhdestvensky
- Vasko Vassilev
- Tamsin Waley-Cohen
- Cecil Aronowitz
- Roger Chase
- Simon Rowland-Jones
- Christopher Wellington
- Natalie Clein
- Eileen Croxford
- Joan Dickson
- Amaryllis Fleming
- Julian Lloyd Webber
- Anna Shuttleworth
- Julian Bream
- John Williams
- Claire Jones
- Rachel Masters
The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.
The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.
Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.
The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.
Key facilities at the RCM include:
- The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall - our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles.
- Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving International Opera School.
- A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics.
- Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms.
- Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice.
- A purpose-built percussion suite – you can watch a video tour on YouTube.
- Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms.
- A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos.
- Instrument surgeries including luthier services.
- RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world.
- Digital Innovation Lab: advanced recording and mixing suite.
- RCM Library with more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals.
- Recently refurbished RCM Museum, holding more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and the associated Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture | Royal College of Music (rcm.ac.uk)
RCM String Instrument Collection
The RCM is custodian to a highly important collection of string instruments and bows that include some of the finest examples of Italian, French and English makers. The collection is maintained and expertly restored by RCM Luthier and world-renowned authority on fine violins, Florian Leonhard Fine Violins.
Florian Leonhard, RCM Luthier:
'The RCM collection is an important and fascinating part of the institution's history, ever evolving through the bequests of generous affiliates of the College. This large collection comprises superb examples including not only many of the leading Italian makers, such as Guadagnini, Goffriller and Gagliano, but also French makers such as Vuillaume, and English luthiers such as Benjamin Banks and Richard Duke.
Such instruments require regular check-ups with luthiers at the highest level, in order to maintain the attributes for which these irreplaceable antiques are so famous: sonority, brilliance, clarity, depth, easy response and sound projection.
The benefit from the loan of these instruments, which become their ‘voice’ for a formative period of their education, is simply invaluable to students: a fine instrument will not only encourage, but actually enable its custodians to unlock their full technical and musical potential.'
Highlights of the Collection
Violin, Nicolò Gagliano (1740–87)
Irene Gertrude Swann bequeathed her Gagliano violin to the RCM in 1990. She attended St Paul’s Girl’s School in Hammersmith and played this violin in the world premiere of Holst’s St Paul’s Suite. Irene was a devoted assistant of Holst's and remembered him as being a ‘kind teacher who was full of encouragement’. She was married to Herbert Swann and step-mother to Donald Swann of the famous Flanders and Swann duo. Nicolò Gagliano's instruments are the most sought after of the Gagliano family.
Cello, John Betts (1752–1823)
Ina Boyle bequeathed her Betts cello to the RCM in 1967. Ina was the most prolific and significant female composer from Ireland before 1950. Her oeuvre included vocal, choral, chamber and orchestral music. In 1923, Ina travelled to the UK to begin lessons with Ralph Vaughan Williams, then a teacher at the RCM. John Betts was apprenticed in 1765 to Richard Duke, another successful British luthier of the time. Betts went on to employ many eminent makers including Vincenzo Panormo, Joseph and Henry Lockey Hill.
Violin Sonata with Nicola Benedetti
Benedetti works with Johannes Marmen on Brahms' Sonata no 1 in G major op 78
Please note that the audition and application process for Fellowships is not the same as it is for our courses. Please refer to the individual Fellowship pages for more details.
Latest from the Strings Faculty
Bachelor of Music (BMus) graduate 2002, Editor of BBC Music Magazine, arts writer and active chamber music musician.
Bachelor of Music (BMus) 2012 graduate, performer, teacher and leader of community music groups, and creator of the World Harmony Orchestra, a social enterprise supporting vulnerable people through music.
Sir Antonio Pappano returns to the College to conduct the RCM Symphony Orchestra, and Sir Thomas Allen and Dame Imogen Cooper share their knowledge with students in the masterclass series
The RCM Philharmonic's unique recording of Toussaint L'Ouverture features in the National Portrait Gallery
The Royal College of Music (RCM) achieved the highest rating of Gold for its outstanding teaching, delivery of student experience and outcomes in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023.
The Royal College of Music is delighted to announce a new global partnership with the industry-leading online platform Forte offering lessons with RCM teachers to students in the global Inspired Schools group.
Distinguished conductor Sir Andrew Davis makes his debut at the College, and world-renowned piano virtuoso Lang Lang shares his expertise with students as part of the RCM's masterclass series.
19 January 2024, 7:30pm
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall
25 January 2024, 6:00pm
Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall
28 January 2024, 10:00am
Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP
Contact the Strings Faculty
If you have any general queries about strings at the RCM please contact our Strings Faculty Administration team. If you have any queries about auditions or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.
Strings Faculty Administration
General enquiries about the operation of the faculty and consultation lessons
Admissions and general audition enquiries
+44 (0)20 7591 4362