Piping Degree


BMus (Traditional Music – Piping) Degree

This the UK’s only Bachelor of Music curriculum dedicated to traditional and folk music, and to the music of the Scottish Highland Bagpipe. Aspiring performers on this course explore Scotland’s unique and dynamic musical traditions as a conceptual, critical and creative framework within which to achieve a historically-informed yet distinctively personal voice as a piper and artist. This is interwoven with a solid basis in contemporary and eclectic performance practice.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The National Piping Centre offer a specialist degree that allows pipers to study piping within the context of Scottish traditional music to the highest level. This unique degree offers the chance for students to concentrate on the total study of piping in all forms, whilst also developing their performance under some of the best players in the world. Students receive instruction individually and in small groups and workshop settings. The course includes substantial study of the history, repertoire, contexts, traditions, performance practice and organology of the bagpipes, producing expert performers that have a deep understanding of their own, and other, traditions.

The connection between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the National Piping Centre lies at the very heart of the current drive to bring Scotland’s national music to its rightful place in the nation’s cultural life.

The nature of the Highland bagpipe and its repertoire, defined by highly individual and highly complex parameters of performance and musical structure, demands a teaching approach which integrates the instrument with the rest of Scottish traditional music while simultaneously respecting its uniqueness. To that end, two separate degrees have been created – the BMus (Traditional Music) and the BMus (Traditional Music – Piping). The differences here are mainly ones of practicality: the piping degree is carefully structured to give the most thorough grounding possible in all aspects of the piping tradition, including vital specialisms – such as solo piping, pipe band skills, piobaireachd, light music, piping in a folk ensemble context and canntaireachd. However these two academic qualifications share an immense amount of common ground and the institutional emphasis is always on co-operation. This is based on the mutual recognition that a large part of the bagpipe’s future lies in working with other instruments, both from the wider Scottish tradition and beyond. The current results of our collaborations are exciting and thought-provoking in equal measure, and the feeling in the air is that we’re only at the beginning of this cultural and musical journey.

For any aspiring musician, the chance to immerse themselves in the study of their chosen instrument to learn from the masters is a thrilling prospect. That is what the BMus (Traditional Music – Piping) offer to pipers.

Programme structure

Year 1

In your first year, you will consolidate and enhance your performance technique, repertoire and personal style in your principal study instrument, interwoven with development as a critical and creative artist, able to connect and engage critically with your own experience as a piper. An introduction to digital literacy and website design features, as you not only begin to construct your identity as a musician, but interpret it to the world. At the same time, broaden your collaborative musical experience in both a discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary bedrock of practical supporting studies, including group singing, folk ensembles, music theory, studio recording and the consolidation of your skills in programming, performing and calling a ceilidh.

Year 2

In second year, you will continue to nurture and extend your knowledge and practical skills as a soloist and collaborative traditional musician through a broadening exploration of technique, repertoire and style relative to your instrument or vocal tradition. You will expand outwards, exploring historic and social contexts and concepts, and draw relationships between practice, perception and context. You will further nurture your soloist and collaborative composition, arrangement and performance skills and expand your entrepreneurial skillset with reference to licencing issues, intellectual property, marketing, digital music distribution and the option of organising your own tour. You will also begin to tap into the wider array of elective opportunities to be found in the department, the Royal Conservatoire and beyond.

Year 3

Year three will see you develop a solid musical persona through fluent knowledge and expertise informed by your principal study and a consolidation of your critical artistry in research and reflection. You will do this whilst developing your skills in teaching traditional music in a range of environments. You will address essential vocational issues in greater detail, such as self-assessed taxation, contract negotiation, creative arts funding and administration and the option of a formal work placement, in addition to an ongoing array of elective opportunities to be found in the department, the Royal Conservatoire and beyond; thereby continuing to nurture your own distinct artistic specialisms.

Year 4

Year four – the Honours year – occasions a synthesis of your critical, technical and creative development as a traditional musician or piper. In addition to engaging in your own substantial project work, deeply rooted in both tradition and innovation, toward an independent and original contribution to the field, you will continue to take advantage of the array of elective opportunities to be found in the department, the Royal Conservatoire and beyond. The Honours year is student-centred: working to achieve a distinct identity and musical voice within your own established parameters, culminating in a themed final public recital.

Further Information

For further information please visit the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Website:

BMus (Traditional Music – Piping)

Postgraduate Master of Music (MMus)

Or contact:
Finlay MacDonald
The National Piping Centre
30-34 McPhater Street
Glasgow G4 0HW
Tel. +44 (0)141 353 0220
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


RCS 100 Renfrew Street
Glasgow G2 3DB
Tel. +44 (0)141 332 4101

Hearing Protection

Hearing Protection

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.

Find Out More

The National Piping Centre exists to promote the study of the music and history of the Highland Bagpipe.
Patron HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, KG, KT, GCB.
Founders: Sir Brian Ivory CVO CBE FRSE MA CA - Lady Oona Ivory DL MA ARCM FRSA - Sandy Grant Gordon CBE MA

Read More

HRH The Prince Charles,
Duke of Rothesay, Patron

with Founders, Sir Brian and Lady Ivory and the Lord Provost Bob Winter on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Opening of The National Piping Centre.

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