Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

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Exciting Opportunities within the School

In this section:


Studying Performance within the School

Performance is not compulsory for students on the BA, MArts, Music with Enterprise, or Joint Honours programmes.  It is compulsory for BMus students. It is also available as a Discovery Module for suitably qualified non-music students who have the option to take these modules as part of their programme.   Here are some frequently asked questions about studying performance in the School of Music:

Do I get lessons as part of my course?

Funded instrumental/vocal lessons will be provided for all students who register for solo performance modules (typically those with ABRSM Grade 7 Distinction or Grade 8 Merit or equivalent).

Where can I practise?

We have about 20 practice rooms that are open 7 days a week during term time. This includes a specialist percussion room.

Can I store my instrument in the School?

Yes; if you’re registered on a Performance module (either ensemble or solo) you may store your instrument in the School’s secure instrument store.

Does the School of Music have an instrument collection?

Yes. The School has an instrument collection which includes:

  • Javanese gamelan
  • African drum collection
  • Latin-American percussion collection
  • Goetze and Gwynn chamber organ
  • Two harpsichords
  • A virginal
  • Original nineteenth-century grand pianos
  • An Adlam-Burnett Viennese-type fortepiano
  • Steinway Model D pianos, as well as a Yamaha grand
  • A range of Baroque orchestral instruments
  • A large amount of orchestral percussion

Leeds University Union Music Societies

Leeds University Union Music Societies

The students’ union at Leeds is host to a large number of performance societies – these include A Cappella Singers, Backstage, Band Soc, BPM DJ & Clubbing, Dance Band, LUUMS (includes: Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Orchestra – all auditioned, and Brass Band, LUUMS Choir, Sinfonia, and Wind Band, which are unauditioned), Music Theatre, Opera, Pantomime, Revelation Rock, and Stage Musicals Society.

The societies put on regular performances, LUUMS Symphony and Chamber orchestras provide concerto audition opportunities three times a year each, and there are international tours as well. In addition to performing, coaching and directing the ensembles, the students oversee all of the administration, and it’s a chance to get very valuable work experience if you take on one of the managerial roles. The performances are of a very high standard, and apparently the social life is one of the main attractions! For further details please see http://www.leedsuniversityunion.org.uk/clubsandsocieties/performance/.

Ensemble Performance

Ensemble Performance

The School of Music’s Ensemble Performance modules provide opportunities for students to participate in a range of instrumental and vocal groups led by staff and some external practitioners as part of their course. The ensemble line-up varies from year to year, but usually includes orchestras, choirs and ‘the band project’, as well as opportunities to perform contemporary music through LS Two, and to explore new playing styles and approaches in groups such as gamelan, percussion ensemble or string orchestra. Students are exposed to a broad range of approaches to interpreting music, rehearsal practice and ensemble performance, and also benefit from the knowledge and insight of the staff, several of whom have worked and often continue to work professionally or semi-professionally as conductors and musical directors. Students may audition for solo roles and there are usually also opportunities to gain skills and experience related to ensemble management.

Ensemble projects have enabled students to work with a range of professionals, experts and external partners. Such opportunities have included the choir working with Peter Holman and the Leeds Baroque Orchestra on historically-informed performances, the choir and orchestra collaborating with the South Asian Arts UK, the Grand Union Orchestra and their composer Tony Haynes, Martin Pickard, a former Head of Music at Opera North, conducting the choir and orchestra in a concert celebrating the centennials of Wagner, Verdi and Britten, and the orchestra working with Ian Sapiro and the Halifax Light Opera Society as the ‘pit band’ for a production of West Side Story. Staff contact: David Ireland.

Performance Classes, School Repetiteur

Performance Classes, School Repetiteur

Leeds is unusual amongst universities in that we have a resident professional repetiteur: Daniel Gordon. Daniel runs the weekly classes for the upper years’ individual performance modules as well as accompanying their performances. He also coaches and performs with students in exams, concerts, masterclasses, and auditions, and plays in a variety of professional concerts at the university. He is pianist for the historically-informed events of LUCHIP.

The performance classes mix students of all instruments and voices, concentrating very much on style, interpretation, performance practice, stagecraft and performance psychology. Each class consists of a student concert, followed by an analysis of each student’s performance by way of class discussion. Recordings of performances are made available to all members of the class for later analysis/reflection. Thus performance classes also complement individual instrumental/vocal lessons.

Daniel also organises and accompanies many student concerts outside the university, including 6 each year at Ripon Cathedral, and is an active performer elsewhere. He is the accompanist of Huddersfield Choral Society; as pianist, organist and choral director, he has worked with Black Dyke Band, the CBSO chorus, the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus, Leeds Festival Chorus, Manchester Camerata, many other choirs, orchestras and churches, and the Leeds Hospitals Trust.

Historical Performance, Early Music

Historical Performance, Early Music

As well as the research activities of LUCHIP (Leeds University Centre for Historically Informed Performance) performance is well represented by the LUCHIP Ensemble and the Ferdinand David String Quartet  as well as Leeds Baroque Orchestra (directed by Peter Holman)  and Chorus (directed by Clive McClelland). Historical performing practice has been central to Project productions of rare operas (Spohr Pietro von Abano in 2009 and Salieri Les Danaides in 2011).

Leeds Baroque Orchestra and Chorus has joined with the School’s chorus to perform such masterworks as the Bach Passions and Haydn Creation, and the chorus has performed a liturgical setting of the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers with period instruments in St. Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds directed by Clive McClelland.

Historical performing practice is also studied practically through performance classes and Music in Practice modules, and academically in Music in Context modules.  The school has a collection of original and reproduction period instruments including a chamber organ, Erard and Stein pianos, harpsichords, stringed instruments, violas da gamba, lutes, recorders, and crumhorns. We are sometimes able to offer free classes in lute and viol, and students may borrow historical instruments; some have gone on to specialise in these areas, performing with members of Leeds Baroque Orchestra.  Staff contact: Bryan White.

Opera and Opera North

Opera and Opera North

In addition to operas organised under Ensemble Performance, students mount productions as part of the Opera Society activities (see Leeds University Union music societies). Solo roles are often taken by School of Music students, and they make up a large part of the orchestra, stage management team and chorus. Leeds Baroque Orchestra and Chorus recently performed a semi-staged version of Purcell’s King Arthur, with student soloists, instrumentalists, and choristers in the production.

The University has links with Opera North, through the DARE project http://www.dareyou.org.uk/. This has allowed our students access to rehearsals, special events, masterclasses, performances and internships. Students have experienced four-week placements in a range of Opera North departments, these include chorus and orchestra, costume, education, public relations,  fundraising, events, stage management,  arts administration and the General Director’s office—these opportunities often lead to further employment.

Conferences have been hosted to explore themes such as Music and the Idea of the North, and student performance participated in a performance of the world première of Ian McMillan and Hugh Nankivell’s Songs at the Year’s End, in association with Opera North,  to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike. Staff contact: Jo Fairley

Electro-Acoustic Music

Electro-Acoustic Music

Opportunities for developing skills in electronic music performance, computer music composition, and sound recording practice are provided within Composition, Music in Practice, Applied Project, Applied Performance and Music Technology modules. Creative and experimental approaches to performing and composing with analogue synthesizers, computer software or other forms of music technology are encouraged in these courses. Also, we encourage students to explore the creative aspects of sound recording and music production techniques once the fundamentals of theory are understood. Teaching is linked closely to the research activities and expertise of academic staff. Students have opportunities to have their works performed on the School’s concert hall sound diffusion system, or to take their work out to the public in student-led events across Leeds.  Staff contact: Ewan Stefani.

Contemporary Music

Contemporary Music

LS Two, the School’s crack contemporary music ensemble performs challenging new music at the highest level. Repertoire has included music by Varèse, Lachenmann, Stockhausen, Boulez, Grisey, Czernowin, Górecki, and Furrer as well as premieres of works by composers and students alike. LSTwo is directed by Dr Mic Spencer.  Hans-Joachim Hespos recently came to work with students for a week before a concert featuring his works.

Several of our students have been chosen to compose for professional groups such as the Niuew Ensemble (Netherlands) and Icarus Ensemble (Italy) as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Young Composers’ Scheme, and thus the overall level of originality and professionalism among our graduate and undergraduate composition and new music performance students is exceptionally high. Staff contact: Mic Spencer.

Orchestras and Concerto Opportunities

Orchestras and Concerto Opportunities

The School of Music runs orchestral projects regularly and performs such diverse repertoire as Mahler 1, West Side Story, and Tippett’s A Child of our Time.  Students recently completed a collaborative project with Grand Union Orchestra and Southeast Asian Arts: Undream’d Shores, for orchestra, jazz players/singers, chorus, sitar and table players.  The students’ union runs three orchestras (two auditioned), and perform and tour regularly. In each concert they offer concerto auditions and these opportunities are often won by School of Music students, giving them a chance to perform a concerto in a high-standard but supportive environment. The LUUMS Symphony orchestra’s annual highlight is to perform in Leeds Town Hall to raise money for charity. Staff contact: Jo Fairley

Choral Opportunities

Choral Opportunities

Choral Opportunities

The University of Leeds offers a wide range of choral opportunities to students. The students’ union supports two choirs (auditioned chamber choir and unauditioned large chorus). It also supports several music theatre groups, and an opera society, which offer chorus singing. The School of Music has a close association with Leeds Baroque; students regularly participate in the chorus and orchestra of this ensemble. Choral opportunities are available in the Ensemble Skills modules, and students are active in creating their own small vocal ensembles, which perform a variety of repertoire. There is also an opportunity to apply for choral scholarships at St. Anne’s Cathedral and Leeds Minster.

The School of Music also supports the Clothworkers Consort of Leeds (CCL), an auditioned chamber choir of 24 singers that has developed into one of the finest choral ensembles in the region. The choir performs at services and gives concerts; it has collaborated with professional ensembles including Fretwork, QuintEssential,  Sackbut and Cornett Ensemble, Skipton Building Society Camerata and Leeds Baroque Orchestra. The choir has performed in prestigious venues throughout the UK (St. Paul’s, London, York Minster, Bath Abbey, Shrewsbury Abbey, Bristol, Chichester, Durham, Ely, Leeds, Lichfield, Lincoln, Salisbury, Truro, Wakefield, Wells, and Worcester Cathedrals, the Howard Assembly Room), and has participated in the Beverly Early Music Festival and the Pennine Spring Music Festival. It has toured abroad to Prague, the Czech Republic (2005), Rhineland Germany (2007) Mantua, Italy (2009), Krakow, Poland (2005 & 2011) and Budapest, Hungary (2013). The choir has recorded three CDs: Songs of Praise: Music from the West Riding (2004), Vox Dei (2006), and No Man is an Island (2008). It appeared on Corinne Bailey Rae’s second album, The Sea (2010), and has recorded the title music (by Stephen Kilpatrick) for Michelle Lipton’s play Amazing Grace, broadcast on BBC Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour in 2010. In 2013 CCL celebrated the Britten centenary with performances of A Hymn to St Cecilia and A Boy was Born. In 2014 it performed for the second time at the International Medieval Congress, and in 2015 joined the Skipton Building Society Camerata for the first modern performance of Philip Hayes’s The Judgment of Hermes (1783). http://www.ccl.leeds.ac.uk/ Staff contact: Bryan White.

Musical Theatre

Musical Theatre

The Students’ Union boasts a number of musical theatre societies including Musical Theatre (MT), the Stage Musicals Society (SMS), OperaSoc and PantoSoc, each of which is student run and offers opportunities for students to get involved as musical directors, vocal coaches, rehearsal accompanists and pit-band players as well as on stage.

Outside the University, West Yorkshire is a hot-bed for musical theatre societies. Leeds boasts a number of amateur operatic and dramatic societies (AODS/AOS) such as Leeds LAOS, Guiseley AOS, Yeadon AODS and the Leeds Gilbert and Sullivan Society Yorkshire, as well as Leeds Youth Opera, and further opportunities can also be found around the county in Bradford (Buttershaw St Paul’s AODS, Bradford Youth Players, The Bradford Players, Bradford Catholic Players) and Halifax (Halifax Light Opera Society (HLOS), Halifax AOS), both of which can be reached easily by train from Leeds.

The School of Music has connections to several societies in the region through Ian Sapiro (Buttershaw St Paul’s AODS, Bradford Youth Players, Guiseley AOS), Steve Muir (Halifax LOS), and Jess Ward (Cleckheaton AOS), who work as musical directors for some groups and often invite students to play in the pit bands for the shows they conduct. Staff contact: Ian Sapiro.

Chamber Music

Chamber Music

There are many opportunities for students to engage in chamber music (though there is no specific chamber music module, students sometimes engage in chamber-sized groups as part of Performance classes, Ensemble Performance, Applied Project, and Applied Performance modules). The students’ union music society regularly runs a chamber music competition; the prize is a performance in the University concert series. Student ensemble regularly perform in the concert series under the direction of Daniel Gordon, resident accompanist, and in off-campus events such as concerts at Ripon Cathedral, as well as paid engagements. Staff contact: Daniel Gordon.

Study Abroad in Performance

Study Abroad in Performance

Students who progress successfully on the BMus (Performance) programme will study abroad in their third year at a large music department in an English-speaking country or a conservatoire in Europe. Current exchanges are available in Germany (Köln, Weimar, Frankfurt), Italy (Verona), the Netherlands (ArtEZ Hogeschool voor de kunsten, Enschede), France (Dijon, Strasbourg), Spain (Salamanca), Czech Republic (Brno), and the University of North Texas in the US. Masterclasses are given by visiting teachers from European conservatoires. See the undergraduate prospectus for application details. Staff contact: Jo Fairley.

Applied Performance

Applied Performance

Applied Performance is a module available to taught postgraduate students which allows them to work independently to explore a particular area of interest, often leading to further postgraduate study or employment skills. Past projects include preparation for teaching and performance diplomas, chamber music concerts and vocal recital accompaniment, development of Baroque flute and cello skills, direction of a Baroque ensemble, direction of a Gamelan orchestra, concerto preparation and performance, theatre, opera, performance of original Greek songs in popular style, an exploration of issues of articulation in Bach (organ concert), free improvisation/electronic collaborative project. Staff contact: Michael Allis.



Masterclasses in Performance and Composition are are offered regularly in the School of Music. Classes are given by British and international performers, and students from all levels may be invited to participate as performers or auditors.  Visiting performers and lecturers have included: Joe McCarthy (Grammy award-winning kit player and Latin percussionist), Martin Roscoe, piano (linked to his concert performance on Saturday 28 November 2015),  Marjan Kuiper, voice (ArtEZ conservatorium, Netherlands), and Ansgar Beste composition/extended techniques (Norwegian Academy of Music). Staff contact: Michael Allis.

Musicians’ Health

Musicians’ Health

As part of our Performers’ health initiative, we have an association with BAPAM (British Association for Performing Arts Medicine).  We have a School BAPAM representative, who helps to organise talks for students on how to avoid strain and injury when practising and performing. Staff contact: Clive McClelland.

Scholarships available

Performance Scholarships available

The School offers a Lord Boyle French horn instrumental teaching scholarship for those with a minimum grade 8 merit/Distinction grade 7 ABRSM or equivalent examinations.  Please contact Jo Fairley (j.n.fairley@leeds.ac.uk) for details.

Leeds Cathedral offers £1500 choral scholarships. There are also awards for organists and choral conductors. For further details please see: www.dioceseofleedsmusic.org.uk/leeds_cathedral_choirs/scholarships.php.

Leeds Minster also offers £1500 scholarships for singers, further information can be found on their website.

Bradford Cathedral offers some undergraduate or postgraduate choral scholarships; opportunities are advertised here, or to find out more about the opportunities available, please contact the Director of Music, Alex Woodrow (alex.woodrow@bradfordcathedral.org).

A £3000 organ scholarship is currently available for suitably qualified applicants, for 2017/18 at St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Roundhay (3-manual Abbot and Smith Organ, refurbished 2012), website here, or email david.pickering@standrews.cc (or the School of Music) for further details.

There may also be  paid opportunities available for Sunday morning services at St. Peters, Sicklinghall, for flute/violin/singers/pianists/organists; please contact music@leeds.ac.uk for further information.

It may be possible to audition for some of these opportunities when you visit Leeds for an interview or audition, if it is arranged in advance.

Composition/Film Music


The strength of student performers here in Leeds means that undergraduate composers are easily able to have their works tested and performed by their peers. Additionally, the School of Music regularly invites leading performers and ensembles to come and perform student compositions in workshops. Recent guests have included Ian Pace (piano), Adam Starkie (clarinet), the London Sinfonietta, and Icebreaker.  Guest composers often discuss their work in research seminars and Chaya Czernowin and Gerhard Stäbler have worked with the student new music ensemble, LSTwo, on performances of their music. In these rehearsals, students have the opportunity to observe the real professional practice of major composers. Hans-Joachim Hespos recently spent a week Leeds working with students in preparation for a concert of his works, and gave individual composition tutorials while he was here. The ensemble has performed complex and challenging music, including Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel, Boulez’s Le Marteau sans maître, Grisey’s Vortex temporum, Lachenmann’s “…zwei Gefühle…”, Musik mit Leonardo, Furrer’s Gaspra, Czernowin’s Afatsim, Clarke’s Afterglow and Delmenhorst, and Stäbler’s Luftspiegelungen, of which LSTwo gave the UK première.  Through the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival’s Young Composers Scheme, our students have worked with the Nieuw Ensemble in Amsterdam and Icarus Ensemble in Italy and have received premières of their work at the Festival and in those countries. Staff contacts: Mic Spencer, Scott McLaughlin.

Opportunities for developing skills in electronic music performance, computer music composition, and sound recording practice are provided within Composition, Music in Practice, Applied Project, and Music Technology modules. Creative and experimental approaches to performing and composing with analogue synthesizers, computer software or other forms of music technology are encouraged in these courses. Also, we encourage students to explore the creative aspects of sound recording and music production techniques once the fundamentals of theory are understood. Teaching is linked closely to the research activities and expertise of academic staff. Students have opportunities to have their works performed on the School’s concert hall sound diffusion system, or to take their work out to the public in student-led events across Leeds. Staff contact: Ewan Stefani.

Film Music

Students can engage with film music across a range of modules throughout their degree, and there are a range of modules available in the School that provide a firm grounding in the knowledge and techniques necessary in the film-music industry. The level 1 Film Music discovery module offers an overview of the history and aesthetics of film music from the silent era to the present day, and the core module Music in History and Culture provides ready and detailed access to the wide range of musical styles and sounds that film composers need to know in order to turn their hand to scoring anything from period dramas to pop biopics to sci-fi adventures.

Film-Score Creation and Production, one of the options routinely available as part of the Music in Practice modules at level 2, guides students through the whole scoring process from ‘spotting’ to final mix, drawing on the latest research into this area including information from interviews carried out with professional film-score composers and orchestrators by the course tutor Ian Sapiro and making use of resources from the £0.5m research project into the film and television music of Trevor Jones. Final-year students can continue their study of film music through their Dissertation, and might also elect to do an Applied Project in film music, sometimes working with a team of film-makers from the School of Media and Communication to create the music for a new student picture. It goes without saying, of course, that the study of composition and music technology throughout the degree will also furnish students with relevant skills and knowledge, particularly considering the increased use of contemporary music and studio techniques in the industry.

Opportunities may also exist to gain additional experience in this area through extra-curricular activities, and students interested in film music are encouraged to seek out such avenues for themselves. These might include working with level 2 students in the School of Media and Communication on short projects or animations, or joining the Students’ Union Filmmaking society. Staff contact: Ian Sapiro.


Students have numerous opportunities to gain work experience during their time at Leeds, either formally, as part of the Year In Industry programme (undergraduates only), student internships, or informally, by arranging opportunities during vacations or supporting events organised within the School (such as concerts or education engagement events).  The University Careers Centre provides extensive resources and support for students wishing to gain work experience  and staff within the School of Music are also able to offer support and advice.  Students interested in education will be able to gain valuable classroom experience by studying the ‘Music Students into Schools’ module in level 2 (undergraduate). Students on the MA Music and Management programme can choose to do a management project in the community/in industry as part of their programme, if their project proposal is approved.

Opportunities for volunteering are available through the University’s Volunteers scheme, as well as through the Student Union.  In the past our students have been involved in providing music in the local community, performing and working in prisons (in conjunction with Leeds International Piano Competition) care homes, hospitals, schools, and at St George’s Crypt, a day shelter for the homeless (whose chaplain is a Leeds Music graduate!).

The Music Alumni network was launched in June 2015 to facilitate communication between graduates (working within and outside Music) and students currently at Leeds. Staff contact: Karen Burland.

Music Internships

The School offers a number of opportunities for students at level 2 and above to develop their employability skills and CVs through our Music Internships.  Students can provide general administrative and organisational support or take on a more specific role. Current examples include:

  • Concert Series Interns, who support concert series events and help promote the series through social media activity;
  • Admissions and Induction Interns, who support  the administration of admissions & recruitment events and assist with student induction;
  • Recruitment and Marketing Intern, who creates short student profiles for the web pages.

In line with LeedsforLife scheme the Student Internships allow students to develop the following skills:

  • To manage time and workload effectively
  • The ability to work autonomously, flexibly, take the initiative and to be self-directed in undertaking tasks
  • To develop communication skills
  • To demonstrate ability to work effectively as part of a team
  • The ability to demonstrate and improve confidence
  • The ability to present yourself professionally in a variety of contexts

Students can also apply to be Music Ambassadors, which means they can assist at busy Open Days, gaining valuable work experience (and getting paid!).

Student Reps

Students in the School of Music are invited to act as Course Representatives and participate in Student:Staff Forum meetings, where matters such as facilities, equipment, general teaching issues, health & safety, and careers events are discussed. Problems are debated and resolved in an open and friendly atmosphere. This is an extremely useful forum in which students can become involved in the running of the school, gain valuable experience of working as part of a committee, and represent their peers.

The positions of School Representative for both undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes are advertised on an annual basis.  These are paid positions, offered through the Students’ Union.  Click here for further information.

Research Scholarships

Undergraduate Research & Leadership Scholarships (UGRLS) are available for students who wish to work with members of staff on specific projects in the summer holidays after their first and second years. These are paid positions (up to £6,000 over the two years) and applications are highly competitive.  (See the Performance tabs for information about Performance scholarships.)

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