Choosing an Instrumental class at City lit

Dr Edward Breen
Published: 13 June 2022
Choosing an Instrumental class at City lit

We offer a huge range of instrumental classes, from complete beginners to chamber music, big band and orchestra workshops.

Group Learning

Learning in a group is great fun. You will play along and harmonise with your tutor, enjoy group and individual exercises, and lively discussion in class and in your Google Classroom. You should expect to play solo every so often, just a few bars or an entire piece depending on your course. For in-person courses, classes include more ensemble playing.

Classes for absolute beginners

If you are an absolute beginner, then it’s easy: just start with a 1A course and work through the courses in order.

Choosing the right level for returning players

If you have played before, you can join at the correct level for you.  Check the individual course outlines for details of the level for each class, and if you are unsure of your own level, please email Music for further advice.

Changing Classes

In the first couple of weeks, if you feel that the class you have chosen is not the right level for you, you may request a transfer. NB you must lodge your request in writing before the 3rd session of your course.

If you begin to find the level is unsuitable later on in your course then don’t worry, there will still be plenty to learn and you can then choose a more appropriate level the following term. That’s the idea of the termly modules: they allow flexibility because people learn at different speeds. Please ask your tutor for advice if you are not sure whether you’ve chosen the right course.


For more detailed information about string classes go to String classes at City lit


In all our recorder courses, you can play C instruments (descant/soprano, tenor) and/or F instruments (sopranino, alto/treble, bass)


  • Flute taster: an occassional short course
  • Flute 1A: from complete beginners to simple scales and melodies, including basic music-reading. Follows on to Flute 1B and Flute 1C
  • Flute 2A: our second year of flute studies. Follows on to Flute 2B and Flute 2C over three terms
  • Flute intermediate: gain fluency at grade 3/4 standard and start working on grade 4/5 material
  • Flute advanced: expand your playing and musical understanding in this advanced class working at grade 6 and above



  • Saxophone 1A from complete beginners to simple scales and pieces including reading basic music notation and an introduction to improvising. Follows on to Saxophone 1B and Saxophone 1C
  • Saxophone 2A: from simple scales plus jazz and popular pieces around grade 1 level to grade 2/3, including improvising. Follows on to Saxophone 2B and Saxophone 2C
  • Saxophone 3A: more difficult pieces, develop your technique, jazz rhythms and musical skills through ensemble and build confidence with improvising. Follows on to Saxophone 3B and Saxophone 3C
  • Saxophone 4: achieve fluency, improved technique, tone and sight-reading skills, play more complex rhythms and ensembles, develop personality with your solos


Our ensemble classes come in a variety of forms from weekly sessions to intensive short courses. Courses accommodate those with 2 years' playing expeirence through to advanced level, in wind-only, mixed-instrument chamber music, string ensembles, chamber orchestra, jazz ensembles and big bands.

NB you will need to contact the Music department to check your level and availability of places for your instrument. Ensemble courses require departmental authorisation so that we can ensure the groups have an appropriate mixture of instruments.

Weekly classes in term time:

  • String ensemble is for violin, viola, cello and double bass players at grade 3 standard upwards
  • Chamber music: intermediate - all classical instruments welcome, including recorders, playing at grades 3-5 standard
  • Chamber music: advanced - confident grade 6 or above, good sight-reading skills and ensemble experience
  • City Lit Wind Ensemble: advanced - mixed ensemble for advanced and experienced players of orchestral woodwind and French horn
  • Early music ensemble for players of recorder, viol, violin, flute, oboe, viola, cello, bassoon, keyboard (using a digital piano), playing at modern pitch (A=440).
  • City Lit Big Band: for jazz instrumentalist to learn to play classic repertoire, plus contemporary and original arrangements.
  • Jazz harmony and ear training develops essential skills for all jazz musicians, from introductory level 1 (for players at c. Grade 5 standard) through intermediate to advanced.

Intensive / short courses

  • String winter school, String Easter school and String summer school are two-day intensive courses for players at grade 3 or above with confident ensemble skills. Music is available in advance, so you do not need to be able to sight-read, but you do need to prepare your part in advance.
  • Flute and Clarinet Choir is for intermediate/advanced players, on any size of flute or clarinet.
  • Orchestra workshop is two-day intensive for confident, experienced players of all orchestral instruments, at Grade 6 standard and above. Repertoire is announced and parts available at least 4 weeks in advance, and players are expected to study their parts in advance of the first day. The music is not suitable for sight-reading at the course.

Musicianship and music theory

Our complementary course are designed to enhance your understanding of musical skills and musical notation. Please see our Music theory and musicianship pages for some ideas.

Choosing an Instrumental class at City lit