Our lively and supportive recorder department provides tuition in all aspects of style, technique and repertoire.
The emphasis within the department is on making the most of each student's individual strengths and talents, with a view to opening up pathways into the varied and innovative professional world of the recorder ‘performer-practitioner’. Weekly lessons are given by Annabel Knight (head of department) and Chris Orton, enhanced by regular masterclasses and visits from leading professionals to offer the widest possible range of approaches to performance and pedagogy. Since 2015, masterclass visitors have included Dan Laurin (our department consultant), Piers Adams, Jill Kemp, Sarah Jeffery, Michael Form, Susanne Fröhlich, Dorothee Oberlinger and Rachel Brown.
All periods of recorder music from the medieval and renaissance period up to the present day are afforded equal importance, with opportunities to develop both solo and ensemble playing. Regular department concerts and performance classes complement routine consort work, technique, history and pedagogy sessions. In addition, the recorder players are invited to perform in the wider context of the Woodwind department performance classes, encouraging students to engage with styles outside of our standard repertoire.
Opportunities to take part in electives in performance, improvisation and composition with live electronics are open to all students. Our resident specialist in contemporary music performance, Chris Orton, is keen to support students interested in working in this area and we have strong links with the composition department.
Access high quality instruments which will help you expand your knowledge and learning
Whilst players are expected to invest in good quality solo instruments of their own with the help and guidance of their teachers, students also have the use of a comprehensive department collection of renaissance, baroque and modern recorders. These include a 12-piece consort of Adrian Brown's renaissance recorders pitched at A 466, based on original research into consort sizes of the sixteenth century.
The department also owns a square Paetzold contra-bass recorder, which is frequently used to explore contemporary repertoire with electronics.
A harpsichord is routinely available for accompaniment in lessons and the department is well-integrated into Early Music activities, with opportunities for baroque chamber music coaching and orchestral playing, as well as the regular classes offered by the Early Music elective. Recorder players are actively encouraged to try out baroque orchestral instruments such as baroque flute, oboe or violin
Take part in our pioneering festival, overseas visits and other events supported by our enterprising department
The Birmingham Conservatoire Recorder Department is proud to have initiated and hosted the second ‘Birmingham International Recorder and Early Music Festival’ in 2018. With professional concerts, masterclasses, solo competition and other events taking place across a weekend in February, the Festival is a new landmark in the UK’s Recorder and Early Music calendar, giving opportunities for solo and ensemble performance for players at all ages and levels.
The recorder department is committed to encouraging its students to explore opportunities outside the Conservatoire, with the aim of developing professional contacts across the globe and becoming aware of current developments within the field. Recorder department members attended the Open Recorder Days festival at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2017 and our third year undergraduates have frequently been involved in the Erasmus exchange scheme, allowing a period of study at a partner institute abroad.
The department has also over a number of years developed links in the wider community, with our students teaching for Birmingham and Coventry Music Services, and conducting the Birmingham branch of the Society of Recorder Players. In 2017-18 recorder department players gave concerts at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, local National Trust properties in the Midlands, and for the Worcester Early Music Festival.