City Lit Blog

Choosing an Instrumental class at City lit

Story added 14th Aug 2019

Choosing an Instrumental class at City lit

We offer a huge range of instrumental classes, from complete beginners to Chamber music and Orchestra workshops, so there’s sure to be a class that’s right for you here in the heart of Covent Garden. NB if you are interested in String instruments please see here for more information

Group Learning

All of our classes are group sessions, and learning in a group is great fun. You will find group playing of repertoire, exercises to develop your technique, lively discussion, theory quizzes, and good company in your class.  

Classes for absolute beginners

If you are an absolute beginner, new to playing Recorder, Flute or Clarinet and new to reading music notation, then it’s easy: just start at the very beginning with the 1A course and work through the courses in the order listed below. If you have any questions please email us and we’ll be happy to help.

Choosing the right level for returning players

If you have existing playing skills you don’t need to start at the very beginning: just join us at the correct level for you.

Each level corresponds (roughly) to an ABRSM grade. So for example, Clarinet 3 is roughly Grade 3 standard repertoire and technique. If you look at ABRSM exam pieces you will get an idea of what each level is learning to play. You may also be interested in our ensemble classes.

Please check the individual course outlines for more details of the books for each class, as this gives you a clear indication of the level of the course.

If you are unsure of your current level, please email us and make an appointment to come and play to us for some 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 move to a different course. You can do this online, by logging into your City Lit account (quickest method), or by phoning Enrolments on (020) 7831 7831.
NB you must lodge your request in writing before the third 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 short course modules, they allow flexibility because everyone learns at different speeds. Please ask your tutor for advice if you are not sure whether you’ve chosen the right course.

If you have any doubts at all, please contact us to arrange an advice session. Bring some music, play us a piece and we’ll help you choose.



Recorders 1A, 1B, 1C from complete beginners to simple scales and melodies, including basic music-reading

Level 2: Recorders: Return to Playing: from simple scales and pieces to confidence playing on your own in a variety of styles as well as in ensembles

Intermediate: Recorder consorts and ensemble - playing at grade 3-4 standard

Advanced: Recorder consorts and ensemble: advanced - playing at grade 5-6 standard

Advanced: Recorders: advanced technique a short course in Term 3 for advanced players


Flute 1A, 1B, 1C: from complete beginners to simple scales and melodies

Flute 2/3 from simple scales and melodies to solo and ensemble pieces at around grade 2 to 3 standard

Flute 4A, 4B, 4C: gain fluency at grade 3/4 standard and start working on grade 4/5 material

Flute 5A, 5B, 5C: expand your playing and musical understanding in this advanced class working at grade 5 and above

Intermediate/advanced short courses: Flute choir, Flute and clarinet choir



Clarinet 1A, 1B, 1C: from complete beginners to simple scales and pieces including reading basic music notation

Clarinet 2A, 2B, 2C: from simple scales and pieces around grade 1 level to grade 2/3 repertoire

Clarinet 3A, 3B, 3C: from grade 3 repertoire, develop your technique and musical skills through ensemble and solo repertoire up to grade 4 standard

Clarinet 4A, 4B, 4C: achieve fluency at grade 4 standard and move onto grade 5 material including improved technique, tone and sight-reading skills

Intermediate: Clarinet chamber music fortnightly class for small clarinet ensembles

Advanced: Clarinet advanced workshop and ensembles from  grade 5 upwards, work on technique through solo and ensemble repertoire

Intermediate/advanced short courses: Flute and clarinet choir



Our ensemble classes come in a variety of forms: weekly, fortnightly, intensive and short courses. Courses accommodate those with 2 years' playing expeirence through to advanced level, in wind-only, mixed-instrument chamber music, and chamber orchestra. Brass players (horn, trumpet) are welcome in Orchestra. All brass and wind (including saxophone, trumpet/horn/trombone) are welcome in Chamber music.
NB you will need to contact the Music department to check your level and availability of places for your instrument

Weekly classes in term time:
Chamber music 1: grade 3 to 5 standard, confident music readers
Chamber music 2: grade 4 to 6 standard, confident music readers, some ensemble experience
Chamber music: advanced: confident grade 6 or above, good sight-reading skills and ensemble experience
Wind ensemble 1: mixed wind ensemble for players at grade 3 standard or higher
City Lit Wind Ensemble: mixed wind ensemble for advanced and experienced players

Fortnightly classes:
Clarinet chamber music intermediate level class for small clarinet ensembles

Intensive / short courses:
Flute choir: for intermediate/advanced flutes
Flute and Clarinet choir: for intermediate/advanced flutes and clarinets
Orchestra workshop: for confident, experienced players of all orchestral instruments, grade 6 and above (repertoire announced c. 2 months in advance of each workshop - please check the course outline)


Musicianship and music theory

Our complementary course are dsigned to enhance your understanding of musical skills and musical notation. Please see our Musicianship and music theory programme for some ideas.