Trinity Labon / Flickr (Yellow book)


TCM was founded in 1872 by Henry George Bonavia Hunt, after concern that church music had reached a low. At first, all students were male members of the Church of England. The college was established for practising and testing as well as teaching, so Trinity developed the first exam board. Laban, the centre of contemporary dance founded by influential dance practitioner Rudolf Laban, began life as the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester, before being renamed and moving to South East London in 1975. The two colleges merged in September 2005 to become Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, the UK's first HE institution specialising in music and dance. As a joint institution, the conservatoire is just six years old, but Trinity College of Music has been around for 140 years and Laban for 64.

Address: Trinity relocated from the West End in 2001 to Charles II's former palace, King Charles Court at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, designed by Christopher Wren. It's a world-class location and perhaps the most palatial setting you can study music in. Laban is based to the west of Greenwich in Deptford, in a landmark building designed by Herzog and de Meuron (of Tate Modern fame), which won the Stirling Prize in 2003.

Ambience: Trinity offers dreamy stone, water and sky. Small and friendly. Concerts given inside and out, so students play to real audiences. The University of Greenwich is also based at the site. Laban provides a small and friendly environment, with around 400 students working together in a purpose-built dance venue with superb resources for both practice and performance.

Who's the boss? Professor Anthony Bowne is principal, and Professor Derek Aviss is executive director.

Prospectus: 020 8305 4444 (Music); +44 (0)20 8691 8600 (Dance)

CUKAS code: T75 for TCM applications only. Laban students should apply direct.

what you need to know

Easy to get into? No. You'll need two A-levels (or equivalent) and grade eight in your instrument to get into TCM. Admission is by competitive auditions, held annually in November or December and March or April. Laban asks for similar qualifications and entry is also by audition; auditions are held at Laban itself and also at selected venues across Europe and the US.


Vital statistics: Around 1,000 students at Trinity Laban, 10 per cent from overseas. Courses are intended to prepare graduates for a professional career: around 75 per cent of graduates become paid performing artists or formal teachers, and over 90 per cent overall are involved in the arts, education or community work. Degrees validated by City University London.

Added value: Trinity owns Blackheath Halls, a grand recital hall (seating 600) and a smaller recital room (seating 160). Most of the professorial staff belong to top London orchestras and opera companies or work as acclaimed soloists. A host of supporting classes and services are on offer, including counselling, physiotherapy, Alexander Technique, support for disabled students, and a careers service. International students receive specialist English language tuition as part of their courses. Laban’s award-winning building houses thirteen large, naturally-lit dance studios with sprung floors as well as a 300 seat theatre, outdoor performance spaces and the largest purpose-built Pilates studio in the UK. Teaching staff are leading professionals from around the world, and many are established artists bringing their own creative practice to their work. Students also receive a number of support services: advice on dance practice and healthy eating, Pilates sessions and dance injury prevention and management, including physiotherapy and sports massage.

Any accommodation? Yes - there is a private halls of residence close by, but be warned, room prices start at £135 per week.

Cheap to live there? Not in Greenwich - it'll set you back at least £100 per week for a room in a shared flat – but prices in Deptford and other surrounding areas tend to be cheaper.

Teaching: The QAA audit of Trinity Laban in April 2008 identified various areas of good practice, including the focus that is given to performance-related aspects of the curricula and the high quality of this aspect of provision, as well as the manner in which Trinity Laban's programmes aim to address the whole student experience and student well-being.

Fees: The conservatoire charges £9,000 per year.

Bursaries: An income-based and a travel bursary with a combined annual value of £1,000 is available to full-time undergrads. Excellence scholarships are also available.

Transport links: Served by trains, buses and Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Cutty Sark station is just outside the palatial gates of the Old Royal Naval College and is a five minute walk from Laban, while Greenwich mainline station is a 10-15 minute walk away from both colleges.

the fun stuff

Glittering alumni: TCM alumni include conductor Sir John Barbirolli; soprano Dame Heather Harper; jazz musicians Mark Nightingale, Adam Waldmann and Martin Speake; Marcella Puppini - founder of the Puppini Sisters. Laban alumni include choreographers Matthew Bourne, Luca Silvestrini (Protein Dance) and Lea Anderson (The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs).

Nightlife: Trinity offers Butler's Bar, whilst Laban features the Feast Your Eyes café and its own bar. There’s also plenty going on in the evenings in and around Greenwich. The Trinity Laban Summer Ball is an annual highlight.