Louise Lansdown is Head of the Strings Department at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC).
Find out more about Louise's ethos for the department and what she thinks sets RBC apart from other conservatoires.
What is your ethos for the department?
To create a diverse, imaginative, inspiring department brimming at the seams with innovation, outstanding teaching and forward thinking activities. In addition to provide a platform for each student to find their musical direction, strengths and position on the international musical stage, therefore enabling students to enter the music profession in all areas at the highest level.
What do you look for in musicians auditioning to join your department?
Individuality, passion, sincerity, inquisitiveness, high standards, sensitivity, initiative and a deep love of music
Do you perform outside of teaching? If so, could you give details?
Playing chamber music in a myriad of combinations – collaborating with musicians in South Africa, the UK, USA, Poland, Germany…the list goes on. I am particularly fascinated by the viola music of Paul Hindemith, as well promoting and commissioning new music composed for the viola. There is even a viola quartet at the RBC consisting of members of staff. Tons of exciting performing ventures on the horizon – including several recordings.
What are your main responsibilities as Head of Department?
Managing the content, direction and scope of everything to do with your instrument. The three primary strands of solo, chamber music and orchestral activities are where all my attention lies. Master classes; performance opportunities; performance health; pedagogy; professional connections and schemes; orchestral workshops; string orchestra sessions; staff and student collaborations; recruitment; international connections and projects; chamber music development…..the list goes on!
What have been your career highlights so far?
Travelling across the globe performing, teaching and talking about music! Acquiring the beautiful French viola and Sartory bow I now play on in 2003 (previously belonging to the South African violist Cecil Aronowitz). Completing a PhD on Paul Hindemith; founding the British Viola Society; the ARCO Project; Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and a International Viola Competition that will be launched in collaboration with the Shanghai Conservatory for violists aged 17 and under in 2019. Being privileged to teach some of the most wonderfully talented and engaging young students and watch with pride as they make their mark in the music world. My appointment at the RBC is certainly a huge career highlight for me. Meeting Nelson Mandela…
How did you come to your current role, what have you done before RBC?
I initially studied in South Africa and did two years of postgraduate study at the Royal Northern College of Music from 1998 to 2000. In 2001 I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Strings at the RNCM and worked there full-time until 2012 when I was appointed Head of Strings at the RBC. During my time at the RNCM I worked for Junior RNCM; University of Manchester; Chetham’s School of Music, ABRSM; studied part-time for a PhD; played in a string quartet and also did lots of orchestral playing.
How would you describe your team in the department?
Brilliant, world class, inventive, energised and committed!
What is your favourite thing about working at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire?
The incredible energy, kindness, open-mindedness and drive from students and staff!
What do you think sets RBC apart from other conservatoires?
Awesome 21st century facilities. Commitment to individual nurturing of each student.
Forward thinking projects and foci on contemporary performance; producing flexible diverse musicians; a multitude of genres of music accessible to all students and passion for pedagogy.
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing new music students?
Ever spiralling levels of performance with vast numbers of extraordinary musicians seeking the same jobs.
Advances in technology continue to enhance as well as complicate the future of live music-making. The challenge of music in the conventional concert hall has resulted in a myriad of unusual and creative new performance ventures and norms.
Music education and has been marginalised to such an extent in the UK that gainful employment within the performance and related teaching sector in the UK is highly competitive and often very complex. Any musically related employment now requires great communication, written, social and musical skills, along with good business acumen and awareness of current cultural and political developments.
What do you think makes a successful musician in your field?
Initiative, flexibility, sensitivity to sound, ability to blend, self-awareness, extreme dedication and commitment, generosity and exceptional social and leadership skills.
What can prospective students look forward to the most when they join your department/Royal Birmingham Conservatoire?
Musical and personal challenges, inspiration, rapid development, support, lots of hard work, fun, laughter, excitement and variety!