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Brass band conducting student takes up the baton

Tom Stoneman, the first student to gain a place (with scholarship) on Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's new MMus course in Brass Band Conducting, has already landed a Musical Director position with the Shirley Band in Solihull, within weeks of the start of term.

“After a very hectic start to term, I’m so glad that the course has already paid off! I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my conducting and ensemble leadership skills, to the point where I was confident enough in my abilities to take an audition and be successful in my first regular conducting role. I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in now without the advice and support of the teaching staff here, and the weekly guidance from Ian Porthouse has proved invaluable so far! Working weekly with people at the top of the ladder has been a great experience, and I’m looking forward to the following few months.”

On the Brass Band Conducting course here at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, students are given the opportunity to establish themselves in the brass world. Weekly sessions one-to-one with Ian Porthouse, our Director of Brass Band, explore any and all aspects of leading a brass band; from rehearsal techniques to programming for concerts and contests. This is complemented by rehearsals twice a week with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Brass Band, which provides an opportunity to take the helm of our student ensemble, as well as to observe rehearsals taken by Ian himself. Other opportunities include travelling to Wales to work with resident band the Tredegar Town Band, a multi-award winning ensemble at the peak of brass band performance.

Aside from this, there are also weekly workshops designed to develop wider skills in the realms of ensemble management, from career development, to conducting other ensembles such as choirs and orchestras. Similarly, there is also a series of workshops to aid in musicianship, aural awareness and harmony, as well as score reading/studying.

RBC postgraduate student Tom’s recent appointment as Musical Director of the Shirley Band, Solihull has come quickly after starting the MMus Brass Band Conducting course in September 2019 – being the first student at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to take the brand new course. Tom previously graduated with First Class Honours from our BMus (Hons) undergraduate course as a flugelhorn player. You can read more about his appointment on the Shirley Band website.

Find out more about Brass Band Conducting course