The Higher National Certificate (HNC) has been running at The National Piping Centre since January 2016 and in September 2021, we introduce the Higher National Diploma (HND). With teaching from our world class teaching team, this course is exactly what you need to develop and improve as a piper. It will improve your repertoire, develop your knowledge of the history of the instrument and give you business skills to develop your playing into your career.
Watch our short video above, that gives a flavour of the course from the team behind it and some of the students who have taken part.
The team have put together this list of FAQs to help you decide if the HND Music - Piping is for you. This course is open to all ages of student who meet the audition and qualification criteria, from school leavers to those looking to change career later in life. The next intake of Higher National students will begin on Monday 4th September 2023.
Where is the course based?
Based at The National Piping Centre in Glasgow and drawing on the renowned teaching staff, library, museum and performing space, you’ll have the opportunity to build a solid foundation for a career in the music industry as well as a base for further academic study. The National Piping Centre is ideally situated close to the City Centre with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Theatre Royal right across the road, and just five minutes away from the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall plus there are so many other fantastic music and cultural venues within easy walking distance.
Why is it Unique?
The environment of The National Piping Centre provides students with an opportunity to meet with pipers and other traditional musicians from all over the world and to participate in the vibrant festivals which occur throughout the year in the City including Piping Live!, The World Pipe Band Championships and Celtic Connections. Glasgow has an incredibly vibrant folk & trad music scene with sessions happening most days of the week as well as high quality workshops throughout the year – a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the music and get to know other musicians. Glasgow also is the base for many music industry organisations and is a UNESCO City of Music.
What is an HND?
It’s a Higher National Diploma which is a two-year full-time course. It’s possible in certain circumstances to leave at the end of the first year with a Higher National Certificate and both of these awards are certificated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. It is possible, in certain circumstances, to study towards the HND (or HNC) on a part-time basis over a longer period.
What will I learn?
Firstly, you will have tuition from highly qualified and experienced professional bagpipers. In both years, in addition to developing your skills on the pipes, you will study music theory, music history and sound engineering. In the first year you will study live performance, music composition, stagecraft, the music industry, and community music. Then, in the second year you will have tuition in a second instrument, you’ll learn about online promotion and about how to teach bagpipes to others.
How will I be assessed?
You will be assessed continuously throughout the course. Each subject has a number of assessment outcomes which you must pass. Some assessments are done in class under examination conditions; others are project-type assignments.
If I pass, Im Interested in studying beyond HND.
This is entirely possible. The HNC Music and HND Music are standard SQA qualifications. Some universities have music degree programmes where you may be able to apply for ‘advanced entry’ which means you could gain entry directly to year 2 (with an HNC) or even year 3 with an HND. In most cases, the university would expect you to have achieved an A pass in the Graded Units.
I don't live in or near Glasgow. Are there Halls of Residence?
There is a brand new (August 2020) custom-built student accommodation, Base, right next door to our McPhater St building. It is designed with music students in mind and has a number of bookable practice rooms available.
Based in Glasgow in west central Scotland, students will have ready access to many piping events throughout the year including, piping competitions, concerts, and Highland Games. Students will also be in close proximity to many of the world’s leading pipe bands.
What have other students said about the course?
Jens: "The knowledge I gained on the background of how the music industry works, and what a working musician has to do besides making music, was an eye-opener."
Dean: "It was great taking in knowledge from everyone around you."
Ross: "Learning about the structure of the music industry, [musicians'] union, support structure, etc for musicians; things like book-keeping, copyright, all extremely helpful for me to know what to do next."
What Qualifications do I need to Apply
Primarily, we are interested your piping ability and potential and we encourage anyone who wishes to apply. However, you must understand that the HNC and HND are challenging programmes. You will be expected to undertake research tasks and to be able to write about these. Ideally, you should have a Higher English at grade C or above, and Higher Music at C or above would be beneficial, too. Other qualifications that will support your application include PDQB Scottish Bagpipes at Level 6, SQA NC Music, SQA NPA Music, SfW Creative Industries, and NC Creative Industries.
How should I apply?
Follow the link below and submit your application as soon as possible.
Is it possible to gain entry directly to the Second Year?
It is. Applicants seeking to do so must already have an HNC Music with an A or B pass in the Graded Unit. For example, you may play other instruments in addition to the ‘pipes and have studied those in an HNC at another college. As with other applicants, you will participate in an audition and interview so that we can ensure that you meet the required standards in bagpiping to enable you to progress directly to year 2.
For some applicants already with an HNC Music, it may be necessary for you to first complete a bridging course. This will apply to anyone who passed the HNC before 2019. The purpose of the bridging course is to cover the assessment shortfall between the HNC from pre-2019 and the HNC post-2019. Please get in touch with us if you need further information.
What will happen next?
You will be invited for an interview and audition. Some applicants may be very keen to visit the National Piping Centre, especially if they’ve never been before and the interview/audition is a great time to do so. Others, particularly if they live some distance away, can be interviewed and auditioned online such as via Zoom or Skype.
I've already passed the PDQB Exams at Level 7 or Level 8
If you’ve already passed the PDQB Level 7, you may be able to reduce the number of performance assessments in the HNC or first year. Similarly, if you’ve already passed the PDQB Level 8, you may be able to reduce the number of assessments in the HND or second year.
I've studied Music at another Institution but didn't complete the course
Many people embark on a course of study and discover later that it’s not suited to them. If the HND (or HNC) is of interest to you then please get in touch and we can discuss what opportunities there may be for you to study with us.
What is the Cost?
The costs for the course are:
Full time (Scotland/ EU) student: £3000 per year
Full time (Overseas/ Rest of UK) student: £5650 per year
Students who are eligible for SAAS (Student Awards Agency for Scotland) funding support of £1205 will pay £1795 per year. EU students are also eligible for support.
Instalment payment plans can be arranged.
A registration fee of £100.00 is payable to take up an offer of a place on this course. Application fees are allocated against overall course costs and are non-refundable unless we are unable to offer you a place.
Im very interested. What should I do next?
Contact us as soon as possible with a covering letter to describe your music and other qualifications. Enclose with it (or attach in the email) a scan of your current qualifications. We can then check which HNC award you have achieved. Then we’ll be in touch.
The National Piping Centre requires all students to use hearing protection at all times when playing pipes. Hearing protection is available for purchase in our shop or free of charge from the earplug dispenser in both our piping school venues.
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