The Plucked Strings Department offers expert tuition and guidance to develop your performance skills in harp, guitar and lute. In addition, our extensive electives programme offers you to explore a variety of performing styles, while second study lessons allow you to pursue a related or complementary instrument in greater depth.
There is a clear recognition of the importance of teaching and communication skills to the modern music professional. If you are an undergraduate, you will be given a thorough grounding in teaching techniques during the latter part of your studies and will have the option of pursuing a PGCE qualification as part of your degree.
It is an exciting time for Birmingham's harpists as in 2015 we celebrated the arrival of a three-strong team of tutors: Catrin Finch, our International Chair, mentors the course and visits twice per term to give inspirational masterclasses, workshops and advice. Eleanor Turner gives a weekly lesson to all first study harpists and works with each student to devise a stylised course, ensuring a progressive range of techniques are mastered, core repertoire is conquered and that each student has the skills to pursue their personal passions and thrive in the early stage of their career.
Guitar tuition is designed to equip you with all the skills required to enter the music profession. You’ll cover a broad spectrum of repertoire, receiving specialised individual tuition in your chosen area of study, complemented by masterclasses with visiting artists. Additional technique and sight-reading classes will contribute to your training in both modern techniques and Early Music styles, as appropriate.
Regular performance opportunities include weekly performance workshops, lunchtime recitals, chamber music concerts and external events. There is a strong emphasis on ensemble playing, through mixed ensembles, guitar ensembles and our guitar orchestra. If you have a particular interest in chamber music or you are part of a guitar ensemble, there is a new pathway offering specialist training in these areas, available at postgraduate level. Creative collaboration is encouraged, both between classical, jazz and rock guitarists, and with students from other departments throughout the college.
Available as a first study area, or as a complement to other studies, lute tuition concentrates on the differing techniques appropriate to Renaissance, Baroque and Classical playing. You will study solo, chamber and continuo playing for the lute with Elizabeth Pallett, and you will also receive an introduction to the archlute and theorbo, as well as instruction in staff notation and lute tablature. The Conservatoire owns a fine collection of instruments available for student loan.
Performance opportunities for early guitarists and lutenists exist within the Conservatoire’s full Baroque orchestra, Capelle and Chamber Music Programme.