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Girton Conducting Course
August 12th-17th 2024

A residential course with tutors from the Royal Academy of Music and London Conducting Academy, in the historic setting of Girton College, Cambridge



Further details below, or visit the course website at

Tutors: Dominic Grier, Denise Ham, Cathal Garvey and Leif Tse

with John Longstaff (principal accompanist and score study)

Assistant accompanists: TBC


                               Beethoven    Symphony No. 1 in C major

                               Tchaikovsky   Symphony No. 5 in E minor

                               Brahms          Violin Concerto                                                  

                               Stravinsky      Dumbarton Oaks

                               Holst              St. Paul's Suite for Strings


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Course Details

Girton Conducting Course is designed to enable conductors of all levels of experience and ability to develop their technique and musicianship in a friendly, professional and supportive setting. The focus is on an intimate knowledge of the score and on developing an effective conducting technique, and the course is instructional in nature.  


The course provides tuition individually within groups appropriate to participants' level of ability, as well as sessions involving the entire class. 

The course benefits from the presence of a professional string quartet, professional pianists and an orchestra comprising members of the East Anglia Chamber Orchestra, Huntingdonshire Philharmonic and St. Clement's Players, in addition to instrumentalists from within the class itself.

The course will run from lunchtime on Monday to lunchtime on Saturday; full schedule to include:

· Daily technique sessions

· Workshops with a professional pianist in each

· Score study

· Orchestral sessions with class orchestra and expanded repertoire orchestra

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below, for further information.


Resident Participant: £960 (full board including breakfast, lunch, dinner and mid-morning coffee)

Resident Observer: £TBC   (inclusive of accommodation, all meals and participation in daily technique sessions;

                                             observers are free to observe any session they wish)


En-suite supplement: £100  (optional)

Deposit (non-refundable): £250, payable within 10 days of acceptance on to the course.

Balance of fees to be paid by Monday 15th July 2024 (payment in dollars/euros by arrangement).


There are a limited number of bursaries available in the student hardship fund toward part-fees. Enquiries to the Course Administrator.


Cancellation Policy

Cancellation by participants will result in a refund of any fees paid, minus the deposit.

Cancellation by the organiser will result in a full refund of any monies paid.


To register your interest or to ask any questions about the course please email  

(Course Administrator: Laura Kjærgaard-Grier).


Application Form

If you have all the information you need and would like to book a place on the course please complete and send the application form.

Application Deadline — Monday 8th July 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

What will I learn on the course?

The basis of this course is the long-established Toscanini/Barzin technique. This method of conducting is founded upon clear and musical communication to players through gesture. Baton technique, stance, use of the body and the left hand are all dealt with in detail.

The musical foundation of the course is the classical orchestral repertoire and a tradition of performing it which runs from Liszt, Wagner, Richter, Nikisch, to Pierre Monteux and George Hurst and to the current tutors.

What is a typical day like?

The day starts with warm-up and technique – usually outside on one of the beautiful lawns (weather permitting!)

The class then splits into workshops according to experience and ability where each student receives personal tuition within the group. Each workshop has a professional pianist.

There are also regular workshops with the class ensemble and repertoire sessions with an expanded orchestra, incorporating additional players from outside the course.

Early in the course, John Longstaff will give score study and musicianship sessions.

Will I have to play my instrument?

We strongly encourage orchestral musicians to bring their instruments. This will enable us to form a class ensemble and is an excellent way to experience the effect that different conductors have on the playing. Pianists who are competent readers will be encouraged to assist in playing piano reductions where necessary and to fill in missing instruments in orchestral sessions.

Will I conduct an orchestra?

Yes. All students will be invited to conduct the class ensemble. Selected students will be invited to conduct the repertoire orchestra at the discretion of the tutors. Sessions with the class ensemble are designed to help students with their technique in an orchestral situation. Sessions with the repertoire orchestra will be directed by the tutors and conducted by students who have displayed a thorough knowledge of the score and the technique to convey it. In this way the whole class receives a lesson on the music and on rehearsal technique.

How should I prepare for the course?

Learn the set repertoire as thoroughly as possible.

Students will also benefit from viewing Denise Ham’s instructional video “The Craft of Conducting”, freely available on YouTube:


What should I bring to the course?

Students should bring their instruments (if appropriate); legible, usable scores; a baton, and a music stand if possible.  

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