The primary aim of the Jazz Department is to create a stimulating and inspiring culture for jazz musicians. As well as nurturing individual development, we place a great deal of emphasis on artistic exchange between students and staff, both within the Conservatoire and on the wider public stage: from local venues to international festivals.
Enjoy having the freedom to develop your individual jazz style and potential
Our autonomy means you will follow a curriculum dedicated to jazz performance on a course specifically designed to meet your needs. Because we are able to offer such specialised study, you’ll find yourself learning alongside a body of jazz students who are all highly focused and committed.
Learn from legendary jazz artists who will inspire and encourage you
We have an outstanding team of tutors, all of whom are highly respected artists in their field. The fact that they come not only from the UK but also from the USA and Europe gives a real breadth and depth to the range of jazz music represented here, as well as greater scope for you to find a suitable mentor to watch over your individual development.
Legendary bassist, leader and composer Dave Holland headlines our international masterclass series and plays a significant consultative role in the development of our courses. He joins us each year to coach ensembles, give bass masterclasses, direct rhythm section workshops and give composition lectures. A public performance is also integrated into his visit.
Be part of a thriving city jazz scene featuring internationally-acclaimed musicians
The jazz scene in the Birmingham area is flourishing. We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Jazzlines, the region’s main promoter, and our students enjoy free entry to their gigs for a nominal Birmingham Jazz membership fee. During the last academic year alone, our students have attended performances through this scheme by internationally acclaimed artists such as Joe Lovano, the Fly Trio (Jeff Ballard, Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier), Uri Caine, Jim Black and masterclasses from Dave Holland, Mulgrew Miller, Jeff Ballard and George Colligan.
In addition to the international circuit that Jazzlines brings to the region, the city hosts numerous clubs and venues that support the local scene.
Venues providing a platform for the wider jazz community include the mac Birmingham, Yardbird Jazz Club, The Rainbow, Symphony Hall Foyer, Fizzle, the Glee Club, The Drum, TL’s and the Jam House. Another welcome addition to the scene is the BBC Big Band, resident at the Birmingham’s Town Hall. All this means you will be able to immerse yourself in a vibrant and energising music scene.
Perform with one of our highly successful large ensemble jazz groups
In addition to the main First Study activity of small group jazz, there are three large ensembles for jazz students; Big Band, Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Composers Ensemble. The Big Band concentrates on core traditional repertoire such as Basie, Ellington and Thad Jones while the Jazz Orchestra focuses on contemporary writers and themed projects.
In 2017 we launched the Birmingham Conservatoire Ellington Orchestra, which has been established to become a regular fixture in our new Eastside Jazz Club. The Ellington orchestra is made up of students studying on our BMus Jazz course, and one of the reasons for its launch is to make Ellington, always a regular feature of the department’s Big Band coaching repertoire, more of a regular fixture.
Experience exciting opportunities to perform
We have a long running relationship with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, as one of the Festival Partners. Each year at the festival selected students from our Jazz Department get opportunities to perform on various stages at the festival and in the festival fringe programme.
As part of an exchange set up by Cheltenham International Jazz Festival and the Norwegian Embassy, each year Birmingham Conservatoire jazz students share an international platform with students from Trondheim in Norway.
Jazz Courses at Birmingham Conservatoire