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Choosing an Instrumental class at City lit

3 July 2020
Posted in: Courses

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, 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 Online

Learning in a group is great fun. You will find lively discussion, group and individual exercises, playing along and harmonising with your tutor and keep good company in your class online. While all courses are currently being taught online you should expect to play solo every so often – just a few bars or an entire piece depending on your course.

Tech Tips

For all online instrumental courses at City Lit you will be joining the class via Zoom plus logging onto Google Classroom to access and interact with resources. To get the best experience with Zoom, it is recommended you download the Zoom application on your computer or mobile device and enable "Original Sound". If you haven't already, you will need to create a free account with Zoom using your personal email address so that you have access to the full range of features such as Original Sound.

Computer instructions

Go to Settings> Audio> Advanced
turn on “Show in-meeting option to 'Enable Original Sound'”

also on a computer,
Go to Settings> Audio> 
turn off "automatically adjust microphone volume"

Mobile instructions

Sign out and sign back in to the Zoom mobile app (to enable recent update).
Tap Settings> Meeting>
Tap the toggle to "Use Original Sound"


Classes for absolute beginners

If you are an absolute beginner, new to playing Recorder, Flute, Clarinet or Saxophone 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.



Please note Recorder 1A and ensembles have been deferred until it is safe to deliver them back in the City Lit building

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


Please note Flute 1A and choirs have been deferred until it is safe to deliver them back in the City Lit building

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

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

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 5 and above

Intermediate/advanced short courses: Flute choirFlute and clarinet choir



Please note Clarinet 1A and ensembles have been deferred until it is safe to deliver them back in the City Lit building

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: refine your technique at grade 3/4 standard and move onto grade 5 material including improved tone and sight-reading skills

Clarinet 5A, 5B, 5C: achieve fluency and enjoy grade 4/5+ pieces and more ensemble repertoire 

Intermediate: Clarinet chamber music fortnightly class for small clarinet ensembles

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

Intermediate/advanced short courses: Flute and clarinet choir



Saxophone 1A1B1C: from complete beginners to simple scales and pieces including reading basic music notation and an introduction to improvising

Saxophone 2A2B2C: from simple scales plus jazz and popular pieces around grade 1 level to grade 2/3, including improvising 

Saxophone 3A3B3C: more difficult pieces, develop your technique, jazz rhythms and musical skills through ensemble and build confidence with improvising

Saxophone 4A4B4C: achieve fluency, improved technique, tone and sight-reading skills, play more complex rhythms and ensembles, develop personality with your jazz solos



Please note all ensembles have been deferred until it is safe to deliver them back in the City Lit building

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. Trumpets, trombones, guitars, bass, drums, keys and saxophones are welcome to join our Big Bands.
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
Big Band 1
Big Band 2

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.