Guitar and lute

Our aim in the Guitar and Lute Department is to equip all our students with the necessary skills to enter a music profession upon graduation. We provide as broad a syllabus as possible, giving each student confidence to diversify into the many avenues available to them as a guitarist and musician.

Tutorial staff

Our expert teaching staff are renowned as leading performers and teachers in the UK and provide exceptional tuition.

Tutorial staff

Music courses

We offer a wide range of music performance degree courses and programmes at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire at undergraduate, postgraduate and short course level.

Music courses

Performance opportunities

Regular performance opportunities include weekly performance workshops, lunchtime recitals, chamber music concerts and external events.

Upcoming performances

Variety of teaching techniques

The department prides itself on being innovative in its programming at the same time as offering a supportive atmosphere, allowing each student to fulfil their potential in their chosen field.

Tuition will cover the expanse of the repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day and is complemented by regular visits from touring International Artists and Teachers. Additional technique and sight-reading classes will contribute to students training in both modern techniques and Early Music styles, as appropriate.

Students will be introduced to teaching techniques in both Classical and Electric Guitar and to develop and encourage arranging for the guitar initially in a chamber setting.

Chamber music

Chamber Music plays a vital part in every students tuition drawing from expert knowledge in the field from all our tutors. This is through mixed ensembles, guitar ensembles and our guitar orchestra.

If an applicant has a particular interest in chamber music or is part of a guitar ensemble, there is a pathway offering specialist training in these areas as an ensemble, available at postgraduate level.

Creative collaboration is encouraged and is a vital part of a student's training, both between classical, jazz and rock guitarists, and with students from other departments throughout the Conservatoire.

Historical Performance On Plucked Instruments

As a guitarist and lute player studying at RBC, students have access to specialist workshops and lectures. The Transcription class led by Elizabeth Pallett (lutenist, visiting tutor) delves into the skill of reading, understanding and transcribing various lute scripts in their original manuscript form. Discovering areas of lesser known music can provide new and exciting possibilities for players.

Continuo classes and the art of reading a figured bassline is an area of study also offered to students of the guitar, lute and those interested in historical performance practice. These function as workshops and provide the essential skills for accompaniment on plucked instruments. Recent repertoire performed by continuo students include 17th century folk tunes by John Playford, the Italian madrigals of Monteverdi and English Ayres by Henry Purcell.

Guitar students also have the option to sign up for one-to-one lessons with Elizabeth Pallett in historical performance repertoire.

Lute tuiton

Students are able to explore all aspects of the lute and its related instruments. Classes steeped in studying primary sources and experiencing original lute tablature and technique, alongside learning the art of continuo, would be at the heart of this study under the guidance of Elizabeth Pallett, visiting tutor and leading performer in the field.

With a fascinating and rich historical background, the lute and its repertoire spans over four centuries. Students would be able to explore all aspects of the genre. From the early medieval tunes of the 13th century (The Cantigas de Santa Maria codex,) to the lute music of the Italian Cinquecento, there is much to discover!

There are many opportunities to perform both as a soloist and as part of an ensemble. Instruments are available for student use, for example 7c and 8c Renaissance lutes, Baroque guitar and Theorbo.


Find out more about the audition process and requirements for the department.

Staff spotlight

Early on in his performing career, Mark became a laureate of several major national and international competitions including Radio Two’s Young Musician, the Julian Bream Prize, South East Arts Music Platform Award, the Guitar Foundation of America, the Scandinavian International Guitar Competition, and the Alessandria International Guitar Competition, Italy.

He has performed at many of the UK's most prestigious music venues, including the Wigmore Hall, South Bank Centre, Fairfield Halls, St George's-Bristol, Bridgewater Hall-Manchester, Sage-Gateshead and the Queen's Hall-Edinburgh. Performances have also taken him to China, U.S.A, the Caribbean and throughout Europe.

Instrument access

Students are able to access a wide variety of guitar instruments, including:

  • Classical Guitar (Ramirez)
  • Baroque 5 course Guitar, French style (Haycock)
  • Renaissance 7-course Treble Lute (Jones)
  • Renaissance 6-course Bass Lute in E/F (Heiber)
  • 14-course Theorbo (Wadsworth)

  • Requinto Guitar (Alhambra)
  • Flamenco Guitar (Asturias)
  • Classical Bass Guitar (Asturias)


Students have recently received masterclasses and recitals from:

  • Sean Shibe
  • Paul Galbraith
  • Laura Snowden
  • Xuefei Yang
  • Marek Pasieczny

Past events

Over the past number of years we have been very fortunate to be able to host a number of public Guitar Days and Projects. Highlights have been:


Weekend Guitar Festival with guest artists;
David Russell, Miloš Karadaglić, Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company, Vida Guitar Quartet Alumni Vickers Bovey Duo


Guitar Day with guest artists;
Alexandra Whittingham, Vida Guitar Quartet, Mēla Guitar Quartet - alumni Matthew Robinson & Dan Bovey


  • Special commission and project with composer/guitarist Marek Pasieczny
  • Alumni Careers Day


Youth Guitar Day with guest artists;
Xuefei Yang, Vida Guitar Quartet, including children from music hubs in Birmingham, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire.

Open days

When possible, the best way to explore what's on offer is to come and see us in person, and we host a number of Open Days throughout the year. Come and be taught by our trailblazing academics and study in our innovative facilities.

Open Days