As a student of the woodwind department, you will immediately appreciate the supportive and collaborative attitude shared by our staff and students, making for an atmosphere that is motivational rather than competitive.

We offer a wide range of experiences for our students, as soloists, in orchestras and as chamber musicians. You would be part of a very busy department! We also devote much attention to pedagogy – an essential and extremely rewarding asset for future employment. We take the greatest care to nurture and develop every student's skills, to create individuals with a wealth of knowledge, who are fully prepared for the profession.

Learn from outstanding staff who are experienced performers

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

We also have Consultant Visiting Teachers who give a whole day of tuition once a term in the form of open lessons/masterclasses.

Recently, our students have had the opportunity to work with:

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Orchestras and Ensembles

Whilst studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, there are many opportunities to play in the various ensembles. These include:

  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Repertoire Orchestra
  • Thallein Orchestra
  • Baroque Orchestra
  • 21st Century Orchestra
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Opera

CBSO Woodwind Training Scheme

Students are offered the opportunity to audition to sit in the CBSO for rehearsals. This is an enormously valuable and exciting project. Before the auditions take place, players from the CBSO hold audition preparation workshops, and after the audition, opportunities for feedback and continued advice on auditions. Following on from the CBSO scheme opportunity, some of our students have been invited to play professionally with the CBSO.

Paul Saunders - Multi-instrumental Specialist   

A clarinettist at heart, Paul Saunders has successfully added saxophones and flutes to his portfolio and has become one of the most versatile woodwind players on the London scene. West End Shows he has performed in include Billy Elliot, Guys and Dolls, Les Miserables, The Producers, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Full Monty, My Fair Lady, Ghost, Top Hat, Young Frankenstein, Chicago and many more. Paul’s current post is playing the Reed 3 (Clarinet, E flat, Bass Clt and Sop Sax) on the West End production of Wicked, a post he has held since the show opened in 2006.

As the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Multi Instrumental Consultant, Paul’s role includes giving all students an opportunity to continue learning secondary instruments (thus enabling them the best chance of employment in teaching posts), to the arguably more serious business of preparing aspiring multi-instrumentalists for the current ‘doubling’ demands made on woodwind players in West End or Touring Shows and Operas. His publications include 'So You Want To Play In Shows' and 'Double Troubles' - designed for the aspiring multi-instrumentalist to practice fast instrument changes as if the performer was in a pit situation.

Paul is a Vandoren UK Artist and an endorsee for Legere Sax Reeds. He is also the UK Endorsee for Uebel Clarinets.

Our postgraduate Instrumental Performance courses include a 'multi-instrument' specialism for woodwind players who do not wish to follow the traditional orchestral route but would prefer to pursue a career as a multi-instrumentalist in musical theatre. If you are interested in auditioning for this, please make direct email contact with Jenni Phillips, Head of Woodwind.

Gain access to instruments of the highest standard

The Conservatoire has several instruments for loan, including:
Piccolos; Cor anglais; Bass clarinets; Baroque oboes; French bassoon; Baroque bassoons and Classical clarinets.

Wind Repertoire Classes

As a department, we offer extensive orchestral training through our weekly wind repertoire classes, covering a wide range of orchestral repertoire. The rota is designed to ensure each student has the chance to experience different orchestral parts. 

Performance Classes

Weekly performance classes give students the platform to practise their performance skills in front of fellow department students. Classes are led by woodwind staff members and visiting international tutors. Students always have access to a professional accompanist for these classes. 

Woodwind Workshops

Our weekly Woodwind Workshops provide an extensive range of activities. Workshops this year have included:

  • Michael Barry – Theatrical workshop: staging your performance
  • Jessica Mogridge – ‘Elevate your performance’ – how coaching can make a difference
  • Melinda Maxwell – Jazz and improvisation workshop
  • Jonathan Kelly (Solo Oboe Berlin Philharmonic) – Wind and vocal class
  • Janet Fulton – Body Percussion
  • London Winds – Side-by-side performance with students
  • Andrew Marriner – Clarinet masterclass


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The Atéa Wind Quintet

The Atéa Wind Quintet joined Royal Birmingham Conservatoire as our 'Associate Ensemble in Residence' in September 2012; they work with students on wind chamber music. A member of the quintet visits us nearly every week, mentoring, coaching and guiding our groups. In addition, the Quintet gives concerts, breathing classes and side by side opportunities. They continue to be a totally inspirational addition to the Department.

Chamber music

Chamber music at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is flourishing. Every student will play in at least one chamber music group. There are endless opportunities to perform in competitions and concerts within the Conservatoire. Through our External Engagements department, many paid opportunities also arise. Existing groups include:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email the Head of Department


Listen to Jörg Widmann: ‘Fantasie’

This piece was performed by Jacob Perry (clarinet).

Listen to Richard Strauss: Serenade Op. 7

This piece was performed by Rainie Li (flute), Georgina Silverton (flute), Rose Livsey-Barnes (oboe), Aliya Zaripova (oboe), Anton Clarke-Butler (clarinet), Gloria Romero (clarinet), Caroline Simpkins (bassoon), Hugh Woolley (bassoon), Ross Cotton (bassoon), Chris Simpson (horn), Tom Hayes (horn), Henry Wright (horn) and Joe Rhodes (horn).

Listen to The Inventus Quintet

These pieces were performed by the Inventus Quintet: Faith Sijing (Flute), Tommy Hill (Oboe), Zulhafeez Zainuri (Clarinet), Mark Wilson (Bassoon) and Henry Wright (Horn).

  • Ligeti's Six Bagatelles movement 1
  • Milhaud’s La Cheminee de roi Rene movement 7
  • Parker’s Mississippi Five movement 2
  • Parker’s Mississippi Five movement 5

Brahms: Clarinet Trio op.114; 2nd movement (Adagio)

This piece was performed by students Anton Clarke Butler (Clarinet), Aaron Billson (Cello) and Ken Lim Min (Piano).