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. Please take a look at our tutor page.

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:

Orchestras and Ensembles

Whilst studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, you will have many opportunities to play in the various ensembles and orchestras. These include:

  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Repertoire Orchestra
  • Thallein Orchestra
  • Baroque Orchestra
  • Wind Ensemble
  • Opera Orchestra
  • Classical Big Band
  • Wind Orchestra

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - 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. Successful students will be invited in for a selection of orchestral rehearsals and free tickets to concerts. An unbeatable experience!

Following on from the CBSO scheme opportunity, several of our students have been invited to play professionally with the CBSO.

BRB Student-in-Residence Scheme

Birmingham Royal Ballet has launched a new Student-in-Residence scheme. This exciting new scheme selects a student from across the Conservatoire for the opportunity to play in rehearsals with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the orchestra of Birmingham Royal Ballet, for one calendar year. Throughout this scheme the student will be mentored by members of the orchestra and Principal Conductor Paul Murphy.

Welsh National Opera Side-by-Side

Playing alongside members of the Welsh National Opera (WNO) orchestra as part of complete woodwind sections, and directed by WNO’s conductors and leaders, this scheme gives students valuable insight into the special flexibility that is required in opera repertoire.

Woodwind Multi-instrumentalists – apply now!

RBC is delighted to announce an addition to its BMus Woodwind syllabus. From September 2023 we will be offering a new BMus multi-instrumentalist specialism. This exciting development will enable you to be trained to a high level in three woodwind instruments by professionals who currently work in the musical theatre industry. Furthermore, studying as a woodwind multi-instrumentalist offers the opportunity to pursue and access a range of employment avenues in a competitive field.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in musical theatre rather than a traditional orchestral route, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level, please email Jenni Phillips, Head of Woodwind, to discuss.

Introducing Paul Saunders, our multi-instrumental teacher….  

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 ElliotGuys and DollsLes MisérablesThe ProducersMary PoppinsChitty Chitty Bang BangThe Full MontyMy Fair Lady, GhostTop HatYoung FrankensteinChicago and many more. Paul’s current post is playing Reed 3 (Clarinet, E flat Clarinet, Bass Clarinet and Soprano Saxophone) 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 helping any interested students to continue learning their second and third instruments. He prepares aspiring multi-instrumentalists in the doubling skills needed to play in the West End, in touring shows and in Operas. His publications include 'So You Want to Play in Shows' and 'Double Troubles' - designed for multi-instrumentalists to practice fast instrument changes as if the performer were in a pit situation.

Paul is a Vandoren UK Artist and an endorsee for Legere Sax Reeds.

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 within their section. Here are some examples of the repertoire recently played:

  • Ravel – Daphnis and Chloe
  • Holst – The Planets
  • Brahms – Symphony no 4
  • Strauss – Till Eulenspiegel
  • Mahler – Symphony no 2
  • Stravinsky – Firebird

We also give students the chance to play in extra repertoire sessions with the brass and percussion departments, broadening their understanding and experience.

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 rehearse and play with our woodwind professional accompanist for these classes. 

Woodwind Workshops

Our inspiring weekly Woodwind Workshops for the whole department provide an extensive range of activities. Workshops this year have included:

  • ‘Elevate your performance’ – how coaching can make a difference
  • Jazz and improvisation workshop
  • Jonathan Kelly (Solo Oboe Berlin Philharmonic) – annual masterclasses
  • Learning how to create a recording
  • Experiencing ‘Screened auditions’
  • ‘Fitting In - Working as an extra player’
  • ‘Freeing the Body and Mind for Performance - An Introduction to Musicians' Yoga’
  • Dalcroze
  • Woodwind Prize Final
  • Chamber music with our ensemble in residence – The Atéa Quintet
  • Interviews and discussion with graduates
    • Global woodwind specialist - Flutes, Reeded Pipes and Whistles from musical traditions the world over! 


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 have coaching and perform in competitions and concerts within the Conservatoire. Through our External Engagements department, many paid opportunities also arise.

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 is with us several times a term, 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!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email Jenni Phillips, Head of Woodwind

Please follow us on Instagram on rbcwoodwind.

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).