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
These classes provide a bridge between one-to-one tuition, masterclasses, and concert performances.
These provide students with opportunities to present work to a leading visiting artist, and members of the public.
Ensemble and Directed Ensemble coaching
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.
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.
Masterclasses and Performance Classes
Public masterclasses are a regular feature and a highlight of the calendar for our students. You will have the opportunity to work on specific repertoire with leading performers in the organ world. By contrast, Performance Classes are led by Academy professors offering you an opportunity to discuss and experiment with your interpretive ideas in an informal environment.
These classes held in groups with occasional individual coaching for the more advanced students. They are designed to introduce you to improvisation in both formal and free styles, and to enable you to develop an ability to express yourself through improvisation both liturgically and in concert
An important aspect in the study of the organ and its wide repertoire, these classes provide an in-depth approach to national styles of organ performance are complemented by study trips to mainland Europe and overseas
Specialist Keyboard Skills for Organists
These classes are grouped based on experience and aural abilities and include preparation for RCO (Royal College of Organists) diplomas, score-reading and advanced aural training
This class helps you to overcome technical challenges in order to play as musically as possible and approach a variety of repertoire.
This series of lectures and site visits teaches you about the construction, design and mechanics of organs. We believe knowing how the organ is constructed and works is fundamental to knowing how to play it.
Choral Conducting: Organ and Church Music
Students are encouraged to attend teaching in the Choral Conducting department (as an elective), and to work with relevant Organ professors in other fundamental church musician skills.
Performing with other musicians is a vital part of an organist’s development and is taken very seriously at the Academy. With the installation of the new organ in the Duke’s Hall, we can play repertoire requiring large instrumental forces.
Performance practice projects are supervised by specialists and frequently take the form of overseas visits where repertoire study is matched to a specific organ-building tradition. Recent trips have been to Hamburg’s St Catharinen and St Jacobi Churches, to Lübeck, Paris, Rouen, Toulouse, Southern Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain and to the historic organs of the Siebenbürgen in Transylvania.
Unique to the Academy, we offer a series of intensive classes designed to introduce the harmonium to our students.
We welcome the finest students from around the world to learn and perform alongside globally renowned artists, ensuring they benefit from a music-making environment of the highest quality.