Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Partnership

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Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Logo.

The partnership between the CBSO and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, provides a framework to develop high quality professional learning experiences for the orchestral musicians of today and the future.

It offers opportunities for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s aspiring orchestral musicians to develop their skills alongside CBSO musicians, both within the orchestra itself and in a wide range of activities that are an essential part of a modern orchestral musician’s career.

The CBSO and BCU have worked closely together over many years with a shared interested in developing and nurturing musical talent. Currently the CBSO and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire work in partnership to promote and deliver the following activities:


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MMus Orchestral String Performance

This postgraduate course enables aspiring professional orchestral musicians to really develop their skills and understanding of the role and expectations of an orchestral musician in the 21st Century. Students audition for a place on this highly competitive course, and those successful receive 17.5 hours of one-to-one tuition with a CBSO musician; 12 hours of one-to-one mentoring with a CBSO musician to support them in repertoire preparation; sitting alongside their CBSO mentor for 16 rehearsals, with opportunities to play where appropriate; and attendance at open rehearsal sessions to enable them to experience a range of different rehearsal techniques undertaken by conductors.

Orchestral Training Scheme

Open to undergraduate students on all orchestral instruments, this programme is competitive, and auditions are held annually at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with the panel comprising of two CBSO musicians.

Prior to auditioning students have an opportunity to attend a workshop with a CBSO musician to help them hone their audition skills, an invaluable insight into this process which will be essential in their future careers as professional musicians.

If successful in their audition, students taking part in the Training Scheme sit alongside their CBSO mentor for up to eight CBSO rehearsals, and they may even have the opportunity to play in some of these rehearsals. Students are also then able to attend the concert of the piece that they have rehearsed free of charge.

Pre and Post Concert Performances at Symphony Hall

Four times a year Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students have an opportunity to give a performance before or after a CBSO main season concert at Symphony Hall. These events are co-promoted, featuring in the CBSO’s season brochure and on our website, as well as within Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s annual concert programme.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students have the opportunity to give two piano recitals and two orchestral concerts at Symphony Hall, with many members of the CBSO’s regular audience in attendance. These not only introduce new audiences to the wealth of talent at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, but also provide a valuable public platform for the student performers.

Open Rehearsals and Concert Attendance

Observing a professional orchestra rehearse is a rare opportunity, so the CBSO ensure that all first year students at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire are able to observe two orchestra rehearsals of contrasting repertoire at Symphony Hall.

Students in subsequent years – including postgraduates – have the opportunity to attend rehearsals at the CBSO Centre, again they can access two per year, and experience the rehearsal process from the outset.

The CBSO provides £5 tickets for all young people in full time education, and many Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students take advantage of this offer, however we also provide a further 150 complimentary tickets for students to attend specific concerts throughout the CBSO season – ensuring that students are able to experience the full breadth of the orchestral repertoire.

Workshops and Masterclasses

CBSO musicians regularly deliver workshops and masterclasses for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students, and many of these are given by the CBSO’s Principle Players. The CBSO also shares details of forthcoming conductors and soloists with Royal Birmingham Conservatoire enabling them to enhance this offer to students with sessions from visiting international soloists and conductors.

The CBSO also provides some additional career development seminars which explore different areas of the music and orchestral industry – from marketing to planning – as well as CV workshops to help students increase their chances in gaining that all important audition or interview after college.

Shadowing on Education Projects

The CBSO’s Learning & Participation department deliver hundreds of workshops and concerts every year, and where possible we provide opportunities for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students to get involved.

Students regularly support the CBSO’s Family Concerts at Symphony Hall, providing pre and post-concert ensemble performances, enabling our audiences to experiences instruments at close quarters, and before our popular Notelets Concerts for early years students can often be found delivering informal creative sessions and performances for our young audiences.

The CBSO also provides opportunities for students to develop their own mentoring skills, inviting up to three students per term to support our Sparks Programme for gifted and talented school age instrumentalists.

Many of the CBSO’s Family Concerts, Schools Concerts and workshops within the community are attended by students, enabling them to observe the different skills required by 21st Century orchestral musicians, and also to support their own development in leading and delivering creative activities for children and young people.

The CBSO also hosts two student placements within the Learning & Participation department each year, providing a valuable behind the scenes insight into the workings of a busy L&P team. During the placement students not only support the administrative team in setting up activities, but also have opportunities to support events and workshops delivered by the L&P department.