Traditional Music Performance HND

traditional music course Glasgow

Trad - With a Twist!

Our HND in Traditional Music Performance is the ideal course for traditional vocalists and instrumentalists looking to hone their craft, and learn the skills and knowledge required to build a successful career in the industry.

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Traditional Music Performance Lecturers

Lorne MacDougall

Innes Watson is an award winning multi-instrumentalist with over a decade of experience in; performing, recording, teaching and producing contemporary and traditional Scottish music.

Growing up in very supportive musical surroundings in the Scottish Borders, Innes possesses an extremely eclectic mix of skills, abilities, interests and accolades that combine to make him one of the most highly regarded and sought after musicians on the scene today.

Having taught at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (after graduating from there with a BA in Scottish Music) Innes is a firm favourite for adult and youth learning organisations across the length and breadth of the country. He has appeared on over 20 album releases in the last 15 years, and has worked with some of the most notable performers in the country.

In 2011, Innes won “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the prestigious MG Alba Scots Traditional Music Awards.

Lorne MacDougall

Ally Forsyth is a traditional musician based in Glasgow. Having graduated with a BA (Hons) in Scottish Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, he is now working with some of the most talented and in-demand musicians in the country.

Brought up in Westhill, near Aberdeen, Ally played piano from a young age. For his final year of high school Ally attended the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton, taught by Andy Thorburn (piano) and Jack Evans (guitar). It was here that he became part of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated band, Thalla.

Since moving to Glasgow, Ally has studied under the tuition of Mary McCarthy and James Ross, playing at some of the UK's most prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall and the Steinway Hall, London. He is a regular piano tutor at Riverside Music Complex and has taught both piano and guitar at Gaitherin and Fèisean across the country. Ally has appeared on television and radio across BBC Alba, BBC Radio 2, Classic FM and Celtic Music Radio.

Lorne MacDougall

Katherine Macleod is a musician and tutor from East Kilbride. Her main talents are in flute, whistle and singing. She started her musical journey singing in the East Kilbride Gaelic choir aged nine and competed in choir and solo singing at the Mod for many years.

Katherine went on to study a BA (honours) in Scottish music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2006 and has been performing and teaching extensively since then. She is passionate about teaching and sharing traditional songs and tunes and is delighted to be teaching on the new Traditional music HND at Riverside.

Lorne MacDougall

Lorne MacDougall is one of Scotland’s leading contemporary bagpipers and musicians. He has become well known for appearing on a number of incredible soundtracks with impressive credits including; Disney Pixar’s ‘Brave’, The ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Trilogy, ‘Doctor Who’, and ‘Thunderbirds’. He has also recently contributed to ‘Whisky Galore’ by Patrick Doyle and ‘Victoria and Abdul’ by Thomas Newman.

Lorne’s innovative style and approach to the traditional genre has seen him achieve an MG Alba Scots Music Award, Instrumentalist of the Year nomination and appear as a 3 time finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year.

Lorne has recorded alongside an incredibly eclectic range of artists including; Billy Connolly, BA Robertson, John Barrowman and Susan Boyle. His career has seen him spend 5 years touring with the world renowned ‘The Tannahill Weavers’ and has had various roles on all releases by everyone’s favourite BagRockers ‘The Red Hot Chilli Pipers’, being a driving force behind the success of the masters of modern BagRock!

John Carmichael

John Carmichael continues to be one of the busiest and most popular band leaders and entertainers in the country for all things Scottish. For many years John has compered and played in theatre shows, performed Burns night speeches and music, and provided music for ceilidh and country dances all over the world.

John has produced, presented and performed many times on STV, BBC Radio and Television, CBC Canada and many others (over 200 TV shows with his band and as a solo artist).

Former Scottish accordion champion, John has made extensive tours of USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle and Far East. He has been musical director for and toured with many of Scotland's top artists including Jimmy Shand, Andy Stewart, Kenneth MacKellar, Calum Kennedy and many, many more.

John's long and illustrious career was marked in 2008 when he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. This accolade is reserved for the small number of outstanding performers which have truly shaped the profile of Scottish music over the decades. John was recognised for his wide-ranging expertise as a musician, performer, bandleader, television producer, accordion teacher and competition adjudicator.

This is much more than a qualification, we view it as a two year work placement where our students benefit from developing a high quality CV and showreel, preparing them for working in the industry or moving on to University.

Delivered in our unique commercial environment, centred around one of Scotland’s most celebrated recording studios, this is the perfect course for those looking to build a successful career as a professional Traditional musician.

Learning at the hands of some of the country’s top musicians, our students enjoy frequent access to our commercial quality production and pre-production facilities, along with the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded future industry professionals, providing our students with an exciting route into the music industry.

Practical applications of the Performance course will allow candidates to build their musical skills in group situations, develop a professional stage presence and learn about the practical aspects of performing. Our Performance students also have the opportunity to further develop their playing technique through individual study and one to one sessions with our experienced tutors.

At a glance our Traditional Music Performance students:

  • Receive one-to-one lessons on their first Instrument from leading traditional musicians
  • Collaborate with our Music Performance (Rock & Pop) and Sound Production students
  • Build a professional showreel and portfolio, with our unique RMC Industry Award
  • Develop their group work skills in our rehearsal studios and perform in Glasgow’s leading live music venues
  • Develop their composition and expand their knowledge of recording software and various recording techniques
  • Generate high quality recordings and gain the required skills to become a recording or session musician
  • Participate in a commercial record release and gain an understanding of promotion
  • Network and participate in seminars, workshops and masterclasses with leading industry professionals
  • Gain hands on experience at the other side of the mixing desk, accessing the latest music software and equipment
  • Cover theory based subjects such as; Income generating organisations (PRS, MCPS, PPL, MU,) and legal issues (contractual and copyright law, management, publishing, recording and live performance contracts)

Every single element of the course has been carefully designed and ties directly to industry relatable practices and activities.

Our year 1 HND students will study the following units:

Unit Specification

Our students learn the organisational aspect of the music industry, giving them the background and knowledge to build a successful career within it. This unit provides an in-depth look at the commercial organisations that form the creative industries, such as; PRS, MCPS, PPL, MU, Creative Scotland and many others. Traditional organisations including Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Hands Up for Trad, and Traditional Music Forum will also be explored.

Get Industry Ready - Focus is placed on providing information on the opportunities for promotion and networking, relevant to building a successful career in the industry. Students will create a CV and identify the skills and qualities necessary to undertake a successful funding opportunity.

Although the focus is on self-employment legal issues and the research of available income streams, students will gain a valuable insight and transferrable skills that could apply to other roles within the industry, for example, working with, or as, a promoter, managing bands or venues, working with sync companies etc…

Unit Specification

Students will receive focussed one to one tuition with an expert tutor, developing a high level of proficiency on their chosen first instrument.

Get Industry Ready - Elements of First study are crucial when considering roles such as; professional performer, music tutor, examiner or session musician etc…

Unit Specification

Develop the skills necessary to perform in a live situation, including all the practical aspects involved and an understanding of the appropriate technology. Our students work towards performing at a live gig as part of the assessment.

This unit will improve candidates instrument skill and compliments first study as it establishes a rehearsal routine and encouraging a professional work ethic.

Get Industry Ready - This unit is primarily designed to provide students the required skills to participate in a structured rehearsal program and perform in a live environment (A minimum of three showcase events at city centre venues; (Stereo, CCA, Blue Arrow etc…)

This unit is used to supply bands and artists for our HND Sound Production, offering cross course networking opportunities highlighting this unique aspect of the Riverside learning experience.

Some of the HND Sound Production Units our Performance students participate in

  • Multi-track recording - Students will gather the required skills to become a recording / session musician, learning studio etiquette and how to communicate with relevant sound technicians in a professional capacity.
  • Advanced Studio Techniques - Students are placed in a variety of situations including large ensembles or performing sessions in a live broadcast scenario.
  • Sound for Live Events - Learning the correct procedures and protocols when communicating with appropriate technicians or personnel in the live environment.

Working with our Sound Production students gives our performers the opportunity to forge working relationships with like minded, future industry professionals, whilst building a portfolio of work.

Unit Specification

The focus of the Music Theory unit is the rudiments of music and the relationship of the written symbol to sound. This unit is designed to promote knowledge and understanding of musical theory in context.

Get Industry Ready - Knowledge gained in this unit can help secure jobs within the music industry such as; music tutor, composer, session musician or performer.

Unit Specification

Designed to give candidates an insight into the multi-track recording process, related terminology and key factors concerning the recording of music. This unit is aimed at candidates who have little or no prior knowledge of recording equipment.

Get Industry Ready - Frequent access to a professional recording environment ensures our performers can be confident when articulating their needs to sound technicians.

The unit covers critical areas, such as; session planning, appropriate microphone selection and techniques, equipment selection, connections and routing, artist monitoring, Multi-track recording systems, gain structure, overdubbing, studio etiquette, EQ and processing.

This unit is crucial for today’s musician, in a world of self releasing and self producing, RTFM teaches candidates to select the appropriate equipment and apply the appropriate techniques in order to record and produce high level professional recordings.

Unit Specification

This unit is designed to develop the skills required by a songwriter and composer. This is achieved by listening, analysing and researching existing folk songs and traditional melodies. Students will work through a series of musical examples and research their chosen genre, in order to assist the creative process and assimilate the necessary knowledge and skills. Students then undertake the process of songwriting based on the conventions of the “traditional” idiom. Some elements of this unit are cross-assessed with the Digital Audio Workstations unit and reinforced within First Study, Live Performance and Music Theory.

Get Industry Ready - Perfect for those looking to pursue careers as recording artists, composers or songwriters.

Unit Specification

Designed to deliver an understanding of a digital audio workstation specification and the ability to record and manipulate audio and MIDI for sound production. It gives our students an underpinning knowledge required to utilise the main functions of a digital audio workstation and to take an audio engineering project to a conclusion by creating a final production master.

Get Industry Ready - This unit is crucial for today’s musicians in a world of home recording and self releasing/producing. The unit teaches candidates to select the appropriate software and apply the appropriate techniques in order to record and produce high level professional recordings using a digital audio workstation.

Studying Digital Audio Workstations will benefit candidates when entering a professional recording studio as they will possess a broad knowledge of industry standard platforms, such as, Pro Tools and Ableton Live.

Unit Specification

The graded unit is designed to provide evidence that the candidate has achieved the following principal aims of HND Music Performance Year 1:

  • An ability to analyse and synthesise knowledge and skills acquired through study
  • An ability to develop study, organisational and research skills
  • An ability to develop competencies in a range of specialised areas of their choice, in line with their preferred career aims
  • An ability to prepare candidates for progression to further study in music
  • An ability to adopt innovation and creativity in their work and be able to respond quickly to the challenges posed by changes in the music or audio industries.

The Creative Project is designed to enable candidates to develop expertise in the generation, development, completion and presentation of a project to a given brief, for an elected vocational area of the creative industries. This project acts as a ‘showcase’ to display skills and knowledge being acquired throughout the group award.

Get Industry Ready - Learners will plan and produce a portfolio of work that could be used to showcase their ability in, for example, a job application or interview situation for either employment or further study. 

Both Graded Unit and Creative project work in tandem to enable candidates to work on a project that will see them specialise in a discipline of their choosing, both these units revolve around the culmination of a years learning and are delivered as a large project for which they will receive an end of year grade.

"The new HND course at Riverside Music College is an exciting development in the field of education of Traditional Music in Scotland. The team at Riverside have a deep understanding of Scottish Traditional Music, in terms of performance but also how to successfully capture and record the music with gorgeous results."

Chris Stout - Musician / Composer

When filling out our online application, please state your chosen first instrument in the 'other info' section.

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Fees & Funding

Riverside offers flexible payment options for students wishing to pay fees via our SAAS and non-SAAS funded instalment plans. Eligible students can also apply for living cost support via SAAS, who have a combination of loans, grants and bursaries available. Student loans of up to £6,750.00 and bursaries of £2,000.00 are available depending on individual circumstances. For further details please check the SAAS website.

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Entry Requirements

Minimum of One Higher (Band C or above, music is highly desirable) or equivalent plus passes in at least 2 other subjects at NAT 5 or equivalent. Students must demonstrate ability on at least 1 instrument, or voice.


2 academic years (HNC can be obtained after 1 academic year) August - June (full time)