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Jazz - BMus

  • UCAS Code: 310F
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Starting: September 2021
  • Study mode: Full Time (4 years) (three years with direct entry to the second year, subject to ability)
  • Location: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Studying with us in 2021/22

It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any arrangements put in place by the University for the 2021/22 academic year will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

The launch of our Eastside Jazz Club has helped consolidate the integral role that Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has to play in a major UK city that enjoys a thriving jazz scene. While Birmingham’s jazz scene has been established over many years, our bespoke venue promises an exciting future for Jazz in the city.

Our Jazz Department is based around the Club, where student musicians share a platform and get invaluable side-by-side performance experience with the best on the scene, whom we welcome to our stage on a regular basis.

This course meets with the needs of the modern jazz performer – it places emphasis on practical work, with the majority of time dedicated to one-to-one lessons, small group coaching and private practice. You'll study modules that have been specifically and skilfully designed for jazz musicians, and as part of your learning we encourage you to explore in depth the relationship between improvisation and composition, which is central to developing your individual voice. You will graduate as a versatile, professional musician who is knowledgeable about the entrepreneurial opportunities available to you, and aware of the commercial realities for musicians joining today’s UK jazz scene as a portfolio musician.

Delivered by performers, band leaders and composers who enhance their teaching with professional experience, insights and connections, the course hones both your performance and professional awareness. 

With individual specialist tuition throughout all four years of the course you will get the individual attention you need to prepare for a successful career in the music profession. You can also apply for additional hours with a Conservatoire tutor of your choice to help support your studies and develop your skills in complementary areas.

As well as having our own club that has taken its place on Birmingham’s vibrant jazz scene, our students enjoy professional experience opportunities with external gigs that familiarise them with the industry – for example through our partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival – one of many ways we prepare you for the future.

What's covered in the course?

The BMus (Hons) Jazz course is a specialist course for performers in jazz. Its main aim is to prepare students for a career in the music profession in the field of jazz. At the heart of our course's philosophy is the ideal of the informed musician; someone who is able to combine both advanced skills and musical knowledge in the advancement of their musical career. The BMus (Hons) Jazz course therefore aims to develop the specialist skills, the theoretical, historical and practice-based knowledge and to encourage the individual creativity required for you to become an independent learner, a critical thinker and a reflective practitioner. 

You will be taught by performers, band leaders and composers, who are ideally placed to share their professional experience, insights and connections. With their guidance, you will hone both your performance skills and your professional awareness. 

Why Choose Us?

  • Students are satisfied with this course! For the second successive year our music provision has achieved the highest score for overall student satisfaction. The 92% score puts BCU 8% higher than the second placed music college.
  • You will work with some of the greatest musicians and study on modules that  have been specifically and skilfully designed for jazz musicians.
  • You will experience significantly more one-to-one tuition time than on a typical academic university music course – or indeed any other conservatoire courses.
  • We are proud to be a festival partner of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival; a partnership that gives our students an insight into how festivals are run, and some invaluable performance opportunities.
  • Our Jazz course has a partnership with Jazzlines, a leading jazz promoter and key contact for international masterclasses.
  • Our course prepares you for a portfolio career on the contemporary music scene, with performance at its centre. It will also give you transferrable skills, including team-working, adaptability, self-promotion, time management and critical thinking.
  • You'll have full access to our superb £57 million facilities, including our Concert Hall, 150-seat Recital Hall, our black box performance space known as The Lab, seven recording studios, and more than 70 practice rooms, ensemble rooms and workshops; all acoustically designed to provide a music-making environment that is world-class.

  • We have countless partnerships and long-established professional relationships with organisations including the Cheltenham Jazz FestivalCity of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Welsh National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • In 2018/19 RBC musicians collectively earned over £43,000 by being hired to play at events through our Book a Musician service.

Similar Courses

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Open Day

Our next Open Day for this course is on Thursday 21 January 2021, and will take place online. Book now to secure your place.

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This course is open to International students

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Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

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Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work in jobs such as:

  • Freelance Musician
  • Director of Events Company
  • Film music composer

Entry Requirements

For insurance purposes, you must be at least 18 years of age by 1 September in the year of enrolment. Normally, you should satisfy one of the following:

Essential Requirements

Applications for this course are made via UCAS Conservatoires

Entry to the BMus (Hons) is by audition only. Applicants will be required to demonstrate general musical knowledge and musicianship skills, including harmony and aural. Audition requirements differ per instrument/specialism applied for.

Composition - Composers must send a portfolio of at least three compositions and a high-quality recording of at least one of these works at least two weeks before their audition date.

LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS
GCSE
  • Minimum of 5 GCSE’s at grade C/4 or above one of which MUST include English Language
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level) See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details
Scottish National 5
  • English Language at grade C or above
  • Must have been achieved at the point of enrolment
IELTS Minimum overall score of 6.0, with 6.0 in writing and no less than 5.5 in the remaining three skills.
LEVEL 3 (and above) QUALIFICATIONS
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • EE / 32 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 3 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.
AS and AS VCE Considered with a maximum of 2 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 32 pts
Access to HE Diploma
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
PPP
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media) Pass
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 8 points or above from two Higher Level Subjects
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
  • Considered with a maximum of 2 other Level 3 qualifications to obtain 32 pts
International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Obtain a minimum of 24 points overall
  • For students who do not already hold a GCSE in English Language at Grade C/4 or above Standard Level English Language (not literature) English A - Grade 4 or above or English B - Grade 5 from the IB Diploma will be accepted
Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers) Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 32 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma PPP
Scottish Advanced Higher
  • Achieve a minimum of 32 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades DDD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of DD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of DD in two Highers).
T-Levels Pass overall (D or E on the core)
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design Pass overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology Pass overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts Pass overall
Audition Requirements
Essential

You will be required to perform two contrasting pieces with a rhythm section (provided), one of which must be chosen from a list of standards, and one of their own choice.

You will also be asked to perform a short transcribed solo (drummers and vocalists excepted) and sight-read.

Pianists, bassists and drummers audition by taking their place in the rhythm trio.

Drummers will be asked to play through the chord changes of any of the listed standards at the piano.

Drummers must also take part in an interactive test, joining in with various grooves indicated by the piano and bass.

All candidates will be interviewed at audition.

Full details of our audition requirements can be found here.

English Language Requirements

GCSE passes in 5 subjects (including English Language)

Don’t meet our entry requirements?

You could apply for a foundation course or a course at our International College. These routes have lower entry requirements and act as the bridge to a full degree. To find out more, please select your status:

Home student International student

  • UK students
  • International students

Award: BMus

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: BMus

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

The deadline for on-time applications is normally on or around 1 October in the year prior to entry, followed by auditions in November (for those attending an audition in Birmingham). If you apply between 1 October and 4 January, you may be eligible for our late auditions in February, if places are still available. For detailed information, see our how to apply section.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year one

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

40 credits

This module lies at the heart of the course and of the learning experience for students on the BMus (Hons) Jazz. It is the first of a suite of principal study modules taken across the four years of the course and as such, it is therefore the first stage in realizing course aims 1, 2 and 4 (Pursuing excellence; practice-led, knowledge applied; employability) in preparing musicians for the profession; nurturing their creativity as performers; and developing high standards of musicianship and technique.

The module provides students with the opportunity to explore and develop their creative musicianship in the context of performance, and technical skills in relation to the jazz aural tradition. To learn and develop as a performer, an aspiring jazz musician needs regular playing opportunities that provide a forum for group improvisation. They also need contact with a mentor to help develop techniques and improvisatory language and need inspiration through example by leading performers in the field (aim 1. Pursuing excellence).Essential to the culture and community of jazz music is the standard repertoire. This allows individual performers to share a common language with many other musicians and also provides a fundamental foundation in learning how to address forms (aim 2. Practice led, knowledge applied), elements that are addressed in preparing for the end-of year performance exam.

Students will have one-to-one tuition throughout the year, allocated to specific teachers and activities in negotiation with the Head of Department. This is complemented by departmental workshops and masterclasses on performance repertoire, where both the exposure to a range of repertoire and to the variety of approaches by a range of international practitioners contribute to course aim 5 (Internationalisation).

40 credits

A central tenet of the programme philosophy is the development of informed jazz musicians equipped to enter the profession. This module recognises the need for jazz musicians to have a highly developed approach to creativity (aim 1: pursuing excellence) reinforced by a thorough grasp of musical techniques and theories which are realized in practice through composition and core associated skills as preparation for improvisation (aim 2: practice led, knowledge applied). In this module first year students have the opportunity to develop skills in composition, and to develop their harmonic knowledge through keyboard skills and ear training The nature of the small-band work promotes the development of personal and interpersonal skills with particular reference to the cooperative and collaborative environment of the music profession and encourages students to develop a view of jazz as an international discipline with important links to numerous world cultures (aim 4: employability; aim 5: internationalization)

In this module, students are introduced to a variety of compositional techniques and strategies and to key areas of jazz harmony through keyboard and aural work, designed to enable them to develop their improvisational language, compose melodic lines that work within the jazz vernacular, and to develop and refine skills and knowledge relevant to a career in the music profession.

20 credits

A central tenet of the programme philosophy is the development of informed jazz musicians. This module contributes to this by providing an overview of the historical development of the music.
Students will employ listening skills and analytical skills to understand musical processes historically, socially and technically and to articulate their musical understanding in both written form and by aural examination.

This module contributes to the delivery of programme aims 1 and 2: pursuing excellence through a wider knowledge of jazz history and developing skills to employ knowledge-applied research, which will in turn inform the student’s own musical practice. With guidance from the lecturer, each student chooses their own topic for the essay, thus enabling students to develop as informed practitioners within their discipline, cultivating an appreciation of key historical concepts and analytical processes to enrich performance and composition. It also contributes to programme aim 5, internationalization, in exposing students to a range of research practices and musicological approaches that encourage a broad, global outlook, and to aim 4, employability, in the development of core research, writing and aural skills.

20 credits

Within the modern profession, most musicians will spend a proportion of their time working in educational and community outreach contexts, presenting live music/composition workshops and/or interactive performances in settings away from the formal concert platform, in venues such as schools, hospitals, care homes, and rehabilitation centres. This module aims to give you a practical and theoretical introduction to the wide range of music activities taking place in community/education settings [aim 2: practice-led, knowledge-applied] and therefore represents an aspect of preparing you for the profession as well as guiding you in your career aspirations by familiarising you with this important area of potential employment [aim 4 employability]. The activities within the module include practical tuition in conducting, and participation in a range of workshops with different interdisciplinary focuses including world music, jazz, composition-based, therapeutic, voice-led, and instrument-led [aim 3: interdisciplinarity].  This broad introduction to workshop facilitation strategies across different disciplines helps to promote an open-minded and enquiring attitude and enables you to build a ‘toolkit’ of workshop facilitation strategies, including musical warm ups, games, activities and communication techniques (musical, verbal, non-verbal), which will be useful for your future career. You will also critique video footage of professionals at work and reflect on your experiences during the module in order to inform a) a collaborative task where you will work with your peers to devise, deliver and engage your fellow students in a short interactive workshop; and b) your overall professional development [aim 1: pursuing excellence].

This module also continues to prepare musicians for the profession in respect of the personal and interpersonal skills required in the cooperative and collaborative environment of professional music making, and the qualities and attributes necessary for a career as a professional musician [aim 1, aim 4].

Year two

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):

40 credits

This module lies at the heart of the course and of the learning experience for students on the BMus (Hons) Jazz. It is the second of a suite of principal study modules taken across the four years of the course and as such, it is therefore the next stage in realizing course aims 1, 2 and 4 (Pursuing excellence; practice-led, knowledge applied; employability) in preparing musicians for the profession; nurturing their creativity as performers; and developing high standards of musicianship and technique.

The module provides students with the opportunity to explore and develop their creative musicianship in the context of performance, and technical skills in relation to the jazz aural tradition. To learn and develop as a performer, an aspiring jazz musician needs regular playing opportunities that provide a forum for group improvisation. They also need contact with a mentor to help develop techniques and improvisatory language and need inspiration through example by leading performers in the field (aim 1. Pursuing excellence).Essential to the culture and community of jazz music is the standard repertoire. This allows individual performers to share a common language with many other musicians and also provides a fundamental foundation in learning how to address forms (aim 2. Practice led, knowledge applied), elements that are addressed in preparing for the end-of year performance exam.

40 credits

A central tenet of the course philosophy is the development of informed jazz musicians. This module recognises the need for jazz musicians to have a highly developed approach to creativity reinforced by a thorough grasp of musical techniques and theories which are realized in practice through composition and improvisation. In this module students have the opportunity to build upon the knowledge and skills gained in the Praxis 1 module and acquire further proficiencies in composition and improvisation which are essential for the aspiring jazz musician (aim 4: employability). The nature of the small-band work promotes the development of personal and interpersonal skills with particular reference to the cooperative and collaborative environment of the music profession and encourages students to develop a view of jazz as an international discipline with important links to numerous world cultures (aim 5: internationalization).

20 credits

A central tenet of the course philosophy is the development of informed jazz musicians. This module contributes to this through the exploration and development of an in-depth knowledge of the key moments in the history of jazz. Students will employ listening skills and analytical skills to understand musical processes historically, socially and technically and to articulate their musical understanding and develop their own insights in both written form and through oral presentation.

This module contributes to the delivery of course aims 1 and 2: pursuing excellence through a wider knowledge of jazz history and developing skills to employ knowledge-applied research, which will in turn inform the student’s own musical practice. Alongside guidance from the lecturer, each student define their own specialist topic for the proposal and presentation, thus enabling them to develop as informed practitioners within their discipline, cultivating an appreciation of key historical concepts and analytical processes to enrich performance and composition. It also contributes to course aim 5, Internationalization, in exposing students to a range of research practices and musicological approaches that encourage a broad, global outlook, and to aim 4, Employability, in the development of core research, writing and presentation skills, including PowerPoint as required.

20 credits

The course’s primary aim, central to its philosophy, is to equip students for a career in the music profession. Many Conservatoire graduates will teach as part of their professional life, and in the second year of the course you will study the pedagogical aspects of your principal-study discipline as an important aspect of preparing you for the profession. This will equip you with additional skills which are likely to prove useful in your future musical career [aim 4: employability]

Through devising and improvisation, the module also promotes an open and enquiring attitude to areas of music with which you may not already be familiar [aim 5: internationalisation].  This not only cultivates creativity for your performing and composing work: the materials and approaches used in the workshops contribute to a ‘toolkit’ of teaching strategies needed by successful educators in the 21st century [aim 2: practice-led, knowledge-applied].

Year three

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 80 credits):

40 credits

This module lies at the heart of the course and of the learning experience for students on the BMus (Hons) Jazz. It is the third of a suite of principal study modules taken across the four years of the course and as such, it is therefore the next stage in realizing course aims 1, 2 and 4 (Pursuing excellence; practice-led, knowledge applied; employability) in preparing musicians for the profession; nurturing their creativity as performers; and developing high standards of musicianship and technique.

 

The module provides students with the opportunity to explore and develop their creative musicianship in the context of performance, and technical skills in relation to the jazz aural tradition. The process of acquiring a musical identity as a jazz performer is developed primarily through gaining experience of performing in the small band situation. In this module the student takes the role of leader of a group of improvising musicians and is required to choose his/ her own repertoire and personnel for the band (aim 1. Pursuing excellence). This is a great challenge that requires a sophisticated range of skills and a developing artistic sensibility. The process of working towards end-of-year performance provides the creative space in which the aspiring jazz performer has the opportunity to draw on their musical knowledge to experiment with different musical concepts, both in rehearsal and in performance, get constructive critical feedback from peers to facilitate reflection and instigate change and further development (aim 2. Practice-led, knowledge applied). 

40 credits

A central pillar of the course philosophy is the development of informed jazz musicians.

The current professional landscape dictates that practitioners require a broad skills base in multiple areas as: performers, composers and project instigators. Students are therefore encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial, enterprising, independent and professional approaches (aim 1: pursuing excellence; aim 4: employability).

As such, this module aligns two central components of: recording and composition/arranging. These two elements result in the production of both a studio recording project portfolio and a composition/arrangement portfolio. This offers the opportunity for students to arrange one piece for nonet, compose one piece for big band and perform and record one free choice piece for small ensemble. The portfolio will therefore include three recorded works (ca.15mins) and associated materials.

20 credits

Artistic and creative qualities need to be developed alongside a pragmatic and realistic understanding of the music industry (aim 1: Pursuing excellence). Aspiring jazz musicians need experience and understanding of the means of projecting creative outputs into the public domain both for commercial returns and for the development of artist profile within the cultural landscape (aim 2: Practice led, knowledge applied)

This module provides experience in music promotion, which can take place in the context of either live performance events or publishing creative outputs via digital media (aim 3: Interdisciplinarity). Both aspects will involve developing an understanding of how to use digital media for marketing, distribution and promotion processes and their associated professional and legal practices. (aim 4. Employability).

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

20 credits

The ability to work collaboratively in a team is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries. This module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create a group project with students from complementary disciplines.

20 credits

This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/ agency, in consultation with your supervisor, and it could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area, which contributes to the development of employability skills within the supportive infrastructure of the University. Where appropriate, the project may involve interdisciplinary collaboration with students from other courses. In this way, it reflects the collaborative, flexible nature of employment within the Creative Industries.

20 credits

The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and ADM Careers+.

 
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Year four

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 120 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

120 credits

In Year 4, all students will select a total of 120 credits which must include at least 80 and no more than 100 credits from List A and at least 20 and no more than 40 credits from list B.

List A

  • Principal Study 4: 40 credits
  • Principal Study 4: 60 credits
  • Final Project: 40 credits
  • Final Project: 60 credits
  • Major Project: 40 credits

List B

  • Further Pedagogy: 20 credits
  • Music, Community and Wellbeing: 20 credits
  • Language of Music: Specialisms 2: 20 credits
  • Contextual Studies: Specialisms 2: 20 credits
  • Professional Development: 20 credits
  • Work Placement: 20 credits
 
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Course Structure

We tutor you in several different areas of musicianship. With individual specialist tuition throughout all four years of the course you will get the individual attention you
need to prepare for a successful career in the music profession. You can also apply for additional hours with a Conservatoire tutor of your choice to help support your studies and develop your skills in complementary areas.

With the help of your tutor, you will develop a productive practice regime and lay down a foundation for technical skills and  improvisation processes.

Using a typical group of two or three frontline instruments, plus a rhythm section, you will receive intensive weekly coaching in your core repertoire. You will then go on to run your own small group, using your choice of repertoire and performers.

We encourage you to explore in depth the relationship between improvisation and composition, which is central to developing an individual voice.

You will also work towards a major project of your own devising, such as a recording, performance or  dissertation. This will need to reflect your specialist interests and career aims.

You can look forward to masterclasses and workshops in our own Eastside Jazz Club led by respected artists from the jazz scene.

Conservatoire’s memberships

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a member of Conservatoire’s UK (CUK) and Association Européene des Conservatoires (AEC).

CUK is the voice of Conservatoire education in the UK.  It represents the collective views of nine UK conservatoires and aims to develop the best training and education in the performing arts.

The AEC is a European cultural and educational network, which looks after the interests of institutions concerned with training students for the music profession.


Student stories

Tom Dunnett

Tom moved to London shortly after he graduated from the BMus Jazz course at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2013. He is now a freelance trombonist in London and holds a chair in the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and a show on the West End. Other work includes big bands, jazz projects and recordings, and some light classical concerts. He also has a sextet and a quartet which he writes for as an ongoing project with views to finding gigs along with recording and performing original music.

Further study

We offer an exciting postgraduate jazz course, which is designed to take you one step nearer to achieving your professional goals and aspirations.

Student stories Harry Lightfoot

Composed the music for the trailers of three recent Star Wars movies, ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ and a number of Disney movies, among many more.

Harry Lightfoot is an award winning composer for film and TV. Since he graduated from BMus (Hons) Jazz in 2007, his career in composition has gone from strength to strength. As well as writing and producing epic orchestral and hybrid trailer cues, he regularly composes for TV advertising with clients includingMcDonald’s, Samsung, Netflix, Pepsi, Mercedes, Adobe, Milka, Axe, Giff Gaff, Harveys, Max Factor and many moreHe also created sound design for the BBC's ‘Original British Drama’ logo, the’ BBC Earth’ ident, and composed the theme tune for the critically acclaimed Britain's Big Wildlife Revival.

Employment Opportunities

One of the central aims of the course is to launch jazz performers into the music profession. You will have a chance to document your work as a jazz musician through a studio project in the third year. You will also design a major project in the fourth year around an area of professional practice of your choice.

As further professional development, you will look at contemporary role models in jazz performance, undertaking in-depth case studies of their careers. There are also classes providing advice on how to manage a freelance portfolio career in music, covering topics such as personal finance and tax, publicity and events promotion, applications to funding bodies, and bidding for commissions.

Placements

We have a  number of musical partners including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan, Birmingham Music Service, Jazzlines, and Town Hall Symphony Hall, with whom opportunities to perform occur.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Firewalking

BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Conservatoire Employability Feature Box

‘What next?’ music careers conference

We hold an annual careers event involving leading industry professionals who take part in panel discussions about the future of the profession and the opportunities available to Conservatoire graduates.

Read more 

Trips and visits

Recent trips have included opportunities to perform at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and to Norway and Italy as part of jazz exchange programmes. Our Ellington Orchestra were invited to Oxford to perform at Kellogg College.

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations

The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.

The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our jazz honours course is most popular with international students from:

Norway Flag

Norway

Concert Hall - Copyright Hufton +Crow

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s £57 million music building opened in September 2017, and is located on Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus in the Eastside ‘learning quarter’ of the city.

This brand new music facility include five public performance venues – a 500 seat Concert Hall, 150 seat Recital Hall, Organ Studio, Eastside Jazz Club and the experimental black box performance venue known as The Lab. As well as these stunning performance venues, we have nearly 100 practice spaces; including 70 small practice rooms and larger ensemble rooms and workshops.

Our new home is the first conservatoire built in the digital age, and as such it has been vital to ensure that the technical infrastructure installed is on par with any advanced commercial facility. We have seven recording studios, a mastering suite, a distance learning hub, and all of our performance venues feature high specification audio-visual equipment that enables interconnectivity and advanced functionality throughout the building.

These impressive modern facilities guarantee that we are excel in our unique dual purpose of providing the highest standard of music education deserved by our students, as well as meeting our role as a concert and performance venue for the people of Birmingham; taking our place in the vibrant cultural landscape of the UK’s second city.

Our staff

We have an outstanding team of tutors, all of whom are highly respected artists in their field. The fact that they come not only from the UK but also from the USA and Europe gives a real breadth and depth to the range of jazz music represented here, as well as greater scope for you to find a suitable mentor to watch over your individual development.

View the full list of Jazz Tutors and Guest Lecturers

Jeremy Price

Head of Jazz

Jeremy Price (born 1970) studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has since followed a career as a freelance trombonist and jazz educator. Jeremy has been Head of Jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire since the Jazz Department was established in 1999 and wrote the Conservatoire's first ever BMus (Hons) Jazz programme in collaboration with Mark Racz, now Vice Principal of the Royal Academy of Music.

Read Jeremy's full profile

John O'Gallagher

John O’Gallagher

Senior Lecturer

John O’Gallagher is a professional saxophonist, educator, and researcher from Brooklyn, New York. During his performing career he has appeared at numerous international jazz venues and festivals, and additionally on radio programs broadcast by BBC-3, RSI-Switzerland, and Radio France. The New York Times has described him as “an alto saxophonist of dry tone and daring temperament”. He has been featured with the Joe Henderson Big Band, Maria Schneider Orchestra, Kenny Wheeler Large Ensemble, and in numerous groups with artists such as Ben Monder, Tyshawn Sorey, Billy Hart, Ralph Alessi, Mike Gibbs, Bill Stewart, Donny McCaslin, Jeff Williams, Tony Malaby, Johannes Weidenmueller, Chris Cheek, Tim Hagans, Drew Gress, Mark Guiliana, Paul Dunmall, and Tom Rainey. His discography is comprised of more than 60 CDs. Recordings on which he has appeared have received one GRAMMY award, two GRAMMY nominations, and three JUNO award nominations. As an educator and clinician, he has mentored students at international conservatories and universities such as The New England Conservatory, The New School, Hochschule Musik und Theater (Zurich, Switzerland), Conservatoire De Paris (France), and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (UK). He is the author of the book Twelve-Tone Improvisation published by Advance Music.

Read John's full profile

Andrew Bain

Senior Lecturer in Jazz, First Study Drums, Ensemble Coaching, Rhythm Class Tutor

Andrew Bain is one of the leading performers and educators in the UK.

A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London and winner of the BBC Big Band Drummer, he has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole, Kenny Wheeler, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Bob Mintzer, John Taylor, Iain Dixon, Elliott Sharp, Mike Walker, Jason Rebello, Mike Janisch, Paul Booth, Phil Robson, Iain Ballamy, Jim Hart, Mark Lockheart, Chris Batchelor, Mark Hodgson, Jean Toussaint, Houston Pearson, John Parricelli, Steve Watts, Stan Sulzmann, and was a member of vocalist Jacqui Dankworth’s band between 2007-8, recording with the late Sir John Dankworth in 2008. He has performed at many prestigious venues in the UK, Europe and the US, including the BBC Proms and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Receiving his MMus from the Manhattan School of Music, he was resident in New York from 2001-07. During this time he performed extensively with Thelonious Monk Competition winner Jon Irabagon, as well as with Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Dave Lalama and Matt Brewer. He has performed at many of New York’s famous clubs including Sin-E, CBGBs, Tonic and the Mercury Lounge, and recorded at Sony Studios. Andrew co-leads the NY-based group Confluence whose eponymous debut showcased original and highly inventive compositions. Their second record will be released on the record label Fresh Sound, New Talent later this year. He also looks forward to launching a new project Player Piano with Mike Walker, Gwilym Simcock, Iain Dixon and Steve Watts in late 2015, and launching another new project with pianist George Colligan, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Mike Janisch in late 2016.

Andrew is Senior Lecturer in Jazz at the Birmingham Conservatoire and Artistic Director of Jazz for the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland. He is also a member of the National Youth Jazz Collective with Artistic Director Dave Holland. Andrew starts his PhD study at Birmingham City University in September 2015.

John Turville

Jazz Piano Tutor

John Turville is one of the leading pianists and educators on the UK scene. A graduate of Cambridge and the Guildhall, he has since received numerous awards, including the MOJO #3 Jazz Album of the Year (2012), ‘Best Album’ in the Parliamentary Awards 2011, ‘Best Instrumentalist' in the 2010 London Jazz Awards, the 2009 Promoter’s Choice Award (PRS), and was a semi-finalist in the Martial Solal competition in 2010. He has worked and recorded with many of Europe’s leading jazz and tango groups, including Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Trio and Acoustic Triangle, the Tony Kofi/Alan Barnes Quintet, Karios 4tet, Gilad Atzmon, El Ultimo Tango, Transtango, the London Tango Orchestra, London Jazz Orchestra, Guillermo Rozenthuler, Nate James, Matt Ridley Quartet (feat. Jason Yarde), Natacha Atlas, US3 and Sola Akingbola (Jamiroquai) .

His own trio have released two acclaimed albums on the F-IRE label and toured widely throughout the UK and Europe. Recent engagements include sets at the Barbican, South Bank, Kings Place, Ronnie Scotts, Pizza Express, The Vortex, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and the Scarborough Jazz Festival.

John is also an experienced composer and arranger. He founded, writes for and directs the E17 large ensemble, and has had works commissioned by Manu Delago and ‘Living Room in London’, the Threads Orchestra, the Solstice Quartet and Transtango.

Mark Hodgson

Jazz Double Bass Tutor

Born in Kendal, Cumbria and coming from a musical family Mark originally played electric bass in funk and fusion bands, but was inspired to take up the Double Bass after seeing The Oscar Peterson Trio featuring Ray Brown. In 1995 he moved to London to study Double Bass and Electric Bass at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1999 Mark left London and moved to Barcelona, Spain, where he was based for four years. He returned to the UK in 2003. Mark has played and recorded with a wide range of musicians, from members of The Police and The Rolling Stones to Paul McCartney, Jamie Cullum, Lizz Wright, The London Symphony Orchestra and Electronica wizard Matthew Herbert. Jazz artists Mark has worked with include....Cedar Walton, Phil Woods, Steve Grossman, John Taylor, Randy Brecker, Larry Coryell, Kenny Wheeler, Greg Osby and Jeff Ballard. Since returning to London Mark has been involved in a diverse range of projects, from film music to Hip Hop and R&B records, he has also been a regular member of Bill Bruford’s ‘Earthworks’, Billy Cobham’s ‘Art Of 5’, The Steve Grossman/Damon Brown Quintet, The Bill Charlap Trio, Tim Garland’s 'Underground Orchestra', The Julian Joseph Trio feat. Mark Mondesir.

http://www.myspace.com/hodgebass