Jenni Phillips is Head of the Woodwind Department at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Learn what Jenni looks for in musicians auditioning to join her department and her main responsibilities.
What is your ethos for the department?
The ethos of the woodwind department is to nurture and help musicians to become creative individuals. We offer exceptional teaching and orchestral training, whilst giving our students an enormous variety of opportunities to try different skills that could lead to a varied and fulfilling career.
What do you look for in musicians auditioning to join your department?
We are looking for talent and interesting and interested students. It's not so much about the finished result at this stage but a sign of potential. We're not looking for players who can fly around the instrument at 100 miles an hour, but more that they play with musicality and sincerity.
What are your main responsibilities as Head of Department?
My main responsibilities are to put a programme of interesting events together for the department. Masterclasses to orchestral training, performance classes to teaching classes, West End show work to playing original baroque instruments. I teach the oboe and coach performers. I also take my pastoral role very seriously and make sure that my door is always open to help students at this time of enormous change.
What have been your career highlights so far?
I have had many highlights, performing in orchestras and concert halls all over the world, but for me, you can't beat a day working with the students at RBC!
How did you come to your current role, what have you done before RBC?
I was the 2nd oboe in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra followed by an Associate Member of the oboe section in CBSO. I have taught the oboe at RBC for 23 years, as well as the Junior Conservatoire. I became Head of Woodwind seven years ago and love it! Dougie Mitchell joined us as Associate Head of Woodwind three years ago and together we look after the department. Currently we have 72 students, including recorders and saxophones. It's just the right size to be sure everyone has plenty of opportunities. It's a busy department.
What is your favourite thing about working at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire?
The atmosphere. It's an incredibly positive working environment, where all staff want the very best for the students. It's infectious. The students themselves are also very supportive of one another.
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing new music students?
Employability. However, we give our students the best chances to try out many avenues within the music profession, which can really help them find their way.
What can prospective students look forward to the most when they join your department/Royal Birmingham Conservatoire?
An enormous wealth of opportunities to really discover what they most love about being a musician. They will rub shoulders with the world’s best musicians and gain confidence to become the professional they want to be.