Guildhall School of Music and Drama Jazz

guildhall school of music and drama logo

Guildhall School of Music and Drama Jazz

Guildhall School of Music and Drama Jazz


Voice and all instruments

The Jazz Department at Guildhall School is one of the most renowned and established of its kind. Now in its fourth decade, the Department comprises an inspirational team of professors who are uniquely placed to oversee the development of creative musicians. One of their key areas of focus is preparing improvising musicians for high-profile careers in the music industry.

Through a dynamic and innovative curriculum, Head of Jazz Malcolm Edmonstone ensures that students’ specialisms are at the core of the programme, surrounded by specialist support encompassing Performance, Scoring, Production and Education.

In addition to instrumental study, the Department has a proud heritage of training jazz vocalists and offers a tailored programme of study for this discipline. Certain specific classes are offered in order to support the unique needs of the contemporary singer, covering stylistic and notational elements.

The Department offers a comprehensive range of class teaching, including:

  • Harmony/Commercial Scoring/Notation – Malcolm Edmonstone
  • Advanced Improvisation – Gareth Williams
  • Lineage and Style – Barry Green
  • Aural/Brazilian Styles – Stuart Hall
  • World of Rhythm – Barak Schmool
  • Composition and Arranging/Conducting – Scott Stroman
  • Improvisational Process – Martin Hathaway/Malcolm Miles/Barry Green
  • Jazz Rhythm/Historical Context – Trevor Tomkins
  • Keyboard Skills – Kate Williams/Martin Hathaway
  • Production and Studio Technique – James Knight/Jules Jackson

Ensemble provision is a key part of the curriculum. Students participate in a comprehensive programme of combo projects, while the Department runs three discrete jazz orchestras, including the multi award-winning Guildhall Jazz Band.


As a student on the BMus Jazz pathway, you join a long and illustrious list of some of Europe’s finest improvising musicians. At Guildhall School we place your specialism front and centre as we support both your core discipline and wider musicianship.

Principal Study lessons provide core instrumental and improvisational training and are tailored to your specific needs. In addition to specific jazz training, you will choose an additional study pathway of either Classical or Commercial music. These are designed to support instrumental and technical development, as well as specific notational and interpretative instrumental requirements.

The BMus syllabus

Within the BMus syllabus, you will receive the following specialist training:

  • Principal Study one-to-one jazz tuition
  • Jazz musical awareness/improvisation workshops
  • Jazz small bands
  • Jazz repertoire class
  • Jazz aural class
  • Big Band
  • Jazz Singers
  • Jazz keyboard skills
  • Jazz arranging class
  • Jazz history class
  • Jazz performance platforms
  • Rhythm class
  • Vintage jazz workshops
  • Contemporary jazz workshops
  • Jazz masterclasses with international visiting artists

Performance and communication skills are an essential part of the Jazz option. Individual artistic development is as important as the learning of the skills taught within the course.

Supporting Study

The Guildhall School promotes a holistic approach to music education and recognises that students who specialise in jazz may also have considerable skill in other genres.

For the first two years, your Principal Study one-to-one lessons will be divided between Jazz and Supporting Study. Traditionally, BMus Jazz students have studied with classical professors for their first two years. This hugely successful pathway remains available under the title Supporting Study (Classical). In 2015, the Jazz Department successfully trialled an additional pathway, Supporting Study (Commercial), which is now fully available to all BMus 1 and 2 students.

The purpose of the Commercial pathway is to allow students whose background is not in the Western classical tradition to support their core jazz studies with instrument-specific tuition, stylistically encompassing other 20th Century American popular musics, including gospel, funk, R&B and commercial session playing.

Places for Jazz Principal Study are awarded on the strength of the overall musicianship displayed at audition and successful candidates will have the opportunity to decide, in conjunction with the Head of Jazz, as to the most appropriate pathway for Supporting Study upon their commencement of studies at the Guildhall School.

Read more about the BMus course structure.


MMus/MPerf in Performance

Read about our Jazz Studies specialism below.

Jazz Studies specialism

The MMus/MPerf course is an innovative and highly personalised training arena for musicians at an advanced level. The course is designed to elevate a student’s core discipline within a wider context of enhanced musicianship, providing preparation for a career as a contemporary musician.

Applications are welcomed from both performers and composer/arrangers, and Pprincipal Sstudy lessons may be split between each discipline. The course encourages a holistic approach to musicianship, offering training in the processes and styles most relevant to the 21st -century improvising musician.

Intake is based entirely on candidate suitability; the Department does not run an instrumental quota. In addition to core classes, discipline-specific provision ensures regular, intensive contact with the appropriate professorial team.

Course components

These include:

  • Guildhall Jazz Band – a large ensemble which performs regularly, tours and leads workshops. Five-times winner of the BBC Radio 2 Big Band Competition with four albums recorded
  • Guildhall Jazz Singers – a close-harmony vocal group with accompanying band
  • Small jazz groups – regular mixed groups led by course tutors and visiting performers
  • Improvisation – a comprehensive course emphasising fundamental techniques for improvisation and creative development
  • Harmony/ear training – a course in recognising, understanding and responding to harmony
  • Composition/arranging – a practical course in composition, arranging and orchestration for jazz ensembles
  • Jazz history and listening – a comprehensive study of the jazz tradition
  • Rhythm classes – a practical course developing time and rhythm skills
  • Studio and recording workshops – courses in recording/production techniques, sequencing and using computers.

MPhil/DMus, MPhil/PhD

Read more about our research programmes.

Find out more

You can find teaching staff, audition requirements, open days and how to apply.