Studying in the Historical Performance department will enable you to further your individual musicianship, instrumental technique, knowledge of historical performance practice and artistic creativity.

Classes & activities

Your Principal Study is the primary focus of your work at the Academy. The requirements differ from department to department. The below is an overview, for more details please refer to the course specification.

The principal modes of teaching are described below:

  • Individual lessons for Principal Study

  • Performance classes

    These classes provide a bridge between one-to-one tuition, masterclasses, and concert performances.

  • Masterclasses

    These provide students with opportunities to present work to a leading visiting artist, and members of the public.

  • Ensemble and Directed Ensemble coaching

  • Lectures

  • Seminars

  • Academic supervisions

The modules listed below will vary slightly each year in response to student needs and the evolving musical world.

  • Analysis and Aesthetics

    This elective will explore both technical aspects of music analysis and wider aesthetic and musicological topics, with a particular focus on bringing these areas together.

  • Artist Development

    Our Artist Development provision is here to prepare you practically, creatively and strategically for a sustainable career in the music profession. We want you to leave here as fully-rounded, creative and adaptable musicians, with the tools and know-how to gain employment in unpredictable times. Practical sessions and intensive electives through the year include working with online content, personal recording techniques, preparing professional documents, auditioning well, how to get funding, and self-employed finances. Artist Development forms a part of the broader range of your work and activities, which we assess over the course of your studies via a portfolio. For more information please visit our Artist Development pages on the website.

  • Attentive Listening

    An elective designed to hone listening skills across a wide variety of styles and genres. For 90 minutes each week an eclectic selection of music is studied, with class discussions focussing upon analytical issues or matters of interpretation, and across history are also studied.

  • Composition

    The Composition elective is available for postgraduate performance students who have prior experience of instrumental and/or vocal composition at degree level (or equivalent).

  • Concert Programmes and Programming

    This elective explores a mix of historical and current factors that underpin programming decisions across a range of music-making experiences.

  • Concert Workshop

    At the heart of this elective has always been the question ‘how do we communicate most effectively in concert scenarios?’ – eclipsing the more fundamental issue of ‘what is a concert?’

  • Creative Collaboration

    A three-day intensive course in collaboration with Glyndebourne, led by Artistic Director Stephen Langridge, for singers, instrumentalists and composers. Through a series of workshops, the participants will explore methods of creating music theatre, and develop their abilities and skills as collaborative artists.

  • Contemporary Music Workshop

    These classes bring together composers and performers in a collaborative environment in which musical ideas can be exchanged and developed, and the processes of collaboration explored. The classes include practical workshops where students develop their ideas, and seminars in which case studies in collaborative practice are examined. Each student participates in collaborative projects with at least one other student, developing musical materials that can take any form. Students participate in formal group presentations that include details of the collaborative processes and performances of the completed musical materials.

  • Creating your own performance projects

    The focus of these workshops will be how to turn an idea into a small-scale creative project, from inception to promotion and performance.

  • Creative Programming and Research

    This course critically examines different aspects of concert practice, exploring strategies for responding to sources (including recordings) and wider issues around programming, including audiences, venues and concert functions.

  • Enhanced Performance Techniques

    Open to PG students of all disciplines, this elective enables performers to deliver with greater freedom and confidence, through enhanced preparation techniques.

  • Historical Performance

    This Elective will give you the opportunity to explore historically informed performance on period instruments.

  • The Interpreter’s Workshop

    Do you think of yourself as an ‘interpreter’ or a ‘creator’? (Dare we think of ourselves as ‘creators’?) When you practise a work do you consider what other performers have done as much as you try to discover the ‘composer’s intentions’? Close listening to recordings (historical and contemporary) can reveal a surprising range of possibilities for the performer that are not captured – or even suggested – in musical scores. In this class we establish a framework for asking useful questions about these possibilities and gaining technical/expressive resources in the process.

  • Open Academy

    Open Academy is the Academy’s Learning, Participation and Community initiative, working with around 6,000 people beyond our enrolled students and staff each year. As the importance of participatory and community music programmes in areas including education, health and wellbeing continues to grow both in the UK and internationally, it is crucial that our students have the opportunity to obtain skills and experience in this exciting and expanding area of work. Open Academy offers lectures, seminars and workshops alongside hands-on practical experience in the field.

  • Performing Experimental Music

    This elective provides an introduction to performing music in C20th and 21st experimental music traditions.

  • Performing French Music

    This elective is offered to instrumentalists, singers and conducting students, covering song, solo and chamber repertoire and orchestral works (for everyone’s mutual interest).

  • The Pianist’s Heritage

    These sessions provide a unique opportunity for reflection and debate around key repertoire areas of the pianist, and around the most burning performance-practice questions of our time – crucially how these relate to expectations in the current music professions.

  • Principles of Chamber Music

    The Chamber Music lectures are designed to enhance all aspects of practical chamber music.

  • Thinking about recording / The self-directed recording artist

    Led by two critically acclaimed self-producing recording artists, five sessions exploring the challenges and opportunities for today’s musician.

  • Transcription and Arrangement

    Transcription and Arrangement is an elective open to all postgraduate performance students. This elective explores the art of arranging and transcribing music for a variety of ensembles and contexts. It will be of particular use for students wishing to arrange existing music for their own chamber ensembles, such a string quartets or wind and brass ensembles.

Department Classes
And Activities

Undergraduate students take weekly academic classes in addition to their Historical Performance studies. Classes such as Techniques and Analysis, Conducting, Technology, Keyboard Skills and Western Music History are designed to complement and add to your creative development as a performer.

In addition to weekly individual lessons, both undergraduate and postgraduate Historical Performance students participate in the following activities:

Performance Classes/Masterclasses

Performance Classes are led by renowned musicians from around the world and give you an opportunity to experiment and explore communication skills in solo repertoire and to receive direct feedback about all aspects of your performance.

Chamber Music

Chamber music is at the heart of the Historical Performance Faculty and you will have opportunities to perform in several mixed ensembles, playing repertoire from Renaissance to Romantic. There are also opportunities to join the recorder consort, oboe band, viol consort and other ensembles. All groups are coached by Academy professors or visiting guests who help guide and prepare students for assessed performances and frequent public concerts.

Repertoire sessions

We hold dedicated classes for learning and preparing standard professional repertoire such as Passions, masses and other orchestral works to ensure our students are already familiar with major pieces when playing in gigs and professional ensembles.

Baroque Dance

You will take part in dance projects. All of our students learn to play dance music, in order to work effectively with dancers and to appreciate dance elements in instrumental music. Most of our students also learn to dance, but anyone with any physical issues is able to set their own pace.

Basso Continuo

Whatever instrument you play, you will have lessons in keyboard continuo playing and realisation depending on your individual experience, expertise and interest. You will learn what to listen for, and what to ask for, from continuo players.

Lecture Workshops

Lecture Workshops are held throughout the year and discuss the main areas of historical performance practice from the Medieval to the Romantic. Classes combine theoretical explanation and discussions with practical application to relevant repertoire.

Orchestra and Ensemble Performance

Students gain unrivalled experience in ensemble playing on historical instruments through orchestral opportunities at the Academy and beyond. You will rehearse and perform regularly and concerts are often led by members of the Academy’s own team as well as visiting artists.

Discovery events

Discovery Events are the perfect way to find out more about the Academy and whether it’s the right place for you.

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