Director of Postgraduate Studies in Music
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Dr Luan Shaw is Director of Postgraduate Studies (Music) at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where she has taught since 2011.
My substantive role is Director of Postgraduate Studies in Music. I also coordinate pedagogy modules for final-year BMus and postgraduate students. I have taught at RBC since 2011 and was previously Head of Pedagogy. I am passionate about supporting students to launch their portfolio careers and through both my teaching and my research I aim to raise the profile of instrumental teaching as a valued career pathway for musicians. In 2023, I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship for my commitment to music education and championing of instrumental teacher and music leader training.
Before joining RBC, I taught clarinet and other woodwind instruments for music services, independent schools, universities and RBC’s Junior Department for over 20 years. During that time, I also took on leadership roles such as Head of Instrumental Studies and Coordinator of Woodwind and Brass and developed music leader skills through working with organisations such as Live Music Now, and Music in Hospitals and Care, before going on to run my own live music workshop business where I facilitated musical experiences in early years and SEND settings, primary schools, care homes and hospitals.
As a clarinetist, I performed regularly with the CBSO and a range of other orchestras and opera companies across the UK and overseas for over 20 years from the mid-1990s and was Co-principal clarinet with Orchestra of the Swan from 2007-2021. I also managed and performed in a flexible chamber ensemble for 15 years in addition to performing as a soloist. I have previously worked as an examiner for AQA and ABRSM, and still adjudicate for the British and International Federation of Festivals.
In addition to the industry connections I gained through my work as a freelance musician, I have built a number of partnerships with organisations in and around the West Midlands over the years, such as Services for Education (Birmingham’s Music Service) and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Employer insights inform our current curriculum, and in some cases, offer valuable work experience for students that can lead to employment. I also invite alumni to contribute to taught classes from time to time – it’s good for their professional development and staff and students gain a lot from hearing about former students’ early-career experiences, whether in different parts of the music industry, or in careers other than music.
Projects of note
I completed a PhD from 2018 to 2021 and the research was closely related to my teaching at RBC, since it explored how we can facilitate the transition from conservatoire student to music educator. I have since published and presented a number of papers relating to this project and am now working on two new research projects that feature our work with alumni, and our Learning and Participation Department.