Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is at the forefront of saxophone education. We offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses which focus on individual development alongside building skills for employment across a wealth of related fields.
Our expert teaching staff are renowned as leading performers and teachers in the UK, and provide exceptional tuition across many styles and genres of music.
Our Visiting Consultant in Saxophone, Kyle Horch, gives a whole day of tuition once a term in the form of open lessons/masterclasses with piano.
Performance opportunities and workshops
As part of the woodwind department all saxophone students are involved with the department’s weekly activities. Check out the woodwind department page for more information.
The saxophone department also holds its own performance classes, weekly saxophone department workshops run by Naomi Sullivan and weekly improvisation workshops run by Anna Brooks.
Alongside the wealth of genres and activities covered during workshops, students also experience masterclasses and recitals from visiting artists. Such as:
- Arno Bornkamp - Holland
- Mariano Garcia and Duo Anima - Spain
- Claude Delange -France
- Gerald Preinfalk - Austria
- Gerrad McChrystal - UK
- Rob Buckland _ UK
- Sue McKenzie - Scotland
- John Harle - UK
- Jutlandia Quartet - Demark
- Johannes Thorrell - Sweden
- Anna Marie Wytko - USA
- Jonathan Radford - UK
- Clair-obscur Quartet. Germany
- Masahito Sugihara - USA
- Vincent David _ France
- Lars Mlekusch - Switzerland
- Lucy Derosier - Italy
- Marco Gerboni - Italy
- Massimo Mazzoni - Italy
- Miha Rogina - Slovenia
Whilst studying at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, there are many opportunities to play in the various ensembles. These include:
- Saxophone Ensemble
- Saxophone Octet
- BMus Big Band
- Pops Orchestra
- Thallein Orchestra
- 21st Century Orchestra
- Wind Ensemble
The Royal Birmingham Saxophone Ensemble and Octet perform across each academic year, both at the conservatoire and further afield. Performances are generally project based and aim to provide students with a stepping stone between small chamber music and larger ensemble playing, whilst giving opportunity to gain experience on all members of the saxophone family. Since 2008, projects have included – 'Crossing Paths: new music of Johannesburg', 'JTV: Cloud Cuckooland', 'Hello, Mr Sax!', 'The Sounding Image', 'Viva Vivaldi', 'Less is More', 'The Night the Buses Died', 'Hoe Down' and much more.
Like many saxophone ensembles, performances often include premieres of new works alongside already established works and transcriptions.
The ensemble and octet have given performances at Birmingham's Symphony Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Newport Music Festival and Stafford Music Festival. They regularly perform as part of the contemporary music series 'Frontiers' and have presented educational concerts as part of the conservatoire's chamber music festival. Members of the group were heavily involved with the ensemble and chamber music sessions at the inaugural Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Saxophone Day, 2015. In the summer of 2018, they premiered new works at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia. And in 2019, they performed at Chetham's School of Music to celebrate 125 years of Adolphe Sax.
Chamber music at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is flourishing. All students get opportunities to engage with all voices of the saxophone family. There are endless opportunities to perform in competitions and concerts within the Conservatoire. Through our External Engagements department, many paid opportunities also arise.
The Conservatoire has several instruments and mouthpieces available for loan, including sopranino and bass saxophones.
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.
Our BMus saxophone graduates often secure places to study in the UK and abroad for MMus or DMus degrees. Students have gone on to postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, University of Texas, Sam Houston University, University of North Carolina, Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, the University of Missouri-Kansas City or remain at RBC for courses in saxophone performance, pedagogy, composition degrees and more.
Current and recent graduates have had success at international competitions such as the Rosen-Schaffel Concerto Competition, 11th International Music Festival of Padova, the 2014 North American Saxophone Alliance Solo Competition and NASA chamber music competition.
Closer to home, postgraduate students past and present have gratefully received funding and support from major supporting bodies such as Help Musicians UK, the Tillett Trust and EMI Music Sound Foundation.
Many graduates choose a path to more immediate employment, going on to teaching positions in higher education in the UK, Asia and USA. Many graduates choose to work as freelance musicians, pursuing their own creative endeavors, such as the band - Punch the Sky. Some choose to work in education embarking on PGCE courses, working for Birmingham Music Services, schools in Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and across the Midlands. There is a wealth of local music theatre companies offering experience, employment and a gateway to working in this genre. We have seen graduates find careers as performers, teachers, chamber musicians, conductors and instrument repairers. Others move into music therapy, academic music or develop community music projects.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email the Head of Saxophone.
Buku-Jacob TV by Alicia Hillman
Dutch ‘avant-pop’ composer Jacob ter Veldhuis (Jacob TV) is notorious for his boombox repertoire, composing works featuring live instruments with boombox accompaniment. Composed for Saxophonist Arno Bornkamp, Buku was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress in Slovenia in 2006.
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Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Saxophone Department