A typical day features five tutored sessions:

9.30am Permanent Groups

You will meet with the same consort of 4 to 6 players every day with the help and guidance of different tutors for half of the session. We welcome applications from both individual players and preformed groups. Individual applicants will be formed into compatible consorts by the tutors. We will take some of the people from the waiting list to help form compatible groups.

11.30am Lectures, Ensembles and Technique Classes

Learn something new or take part in a medium sized ensemble (not normally one-to-a-part) You can choose from four or more options each day. Detailed descriptions of what will be on offer, including what instruments will be required, will be displayed on the noticeboard the day before. The options may include:

  • A lecture by one of the tutors, which may include some element of participation.
  • A choice of ensembles which may include viols, recorders, voices and wind instruments.
  • A technique class.

Please note that the larger sizes of viols and recorders are usually very welcome at this session.

2.00pm Free Time

If you want to carry on playing during all or part of the free time, you are welcome to form groups and book a room. This session is not tutored.

4.30pm Non-permanent Groups

Non-Permanent Groups are chamber-music sessions, rather than the place to learn new skills. They offer a chance to meet and make music with a wide variety of people on the course. Whereas permanent groups are as compatible as possible, non-permanent groups are based purely on people’s choices made in advance. As an example, options may include:

  • Recorder Consort: you may request renaissance recorders, if you own and play one or more of them.
  • Viol Consort: you may request renaissance viols, if you own and play one or more of them.
  • Broken Consort: recorders (usually tenor or lower) combined with tenor and bass viol.
  • Consort Songs: a chance for more confident singers to work on music for solo voice and viols.
  • Baroque Chamber (440 or 415): suites and sonatas for two or more instruments with continuo. You will need the necessary technique to deal with those Allegros! Two Roland C30 electronic harpsichords will be available  as well as other keyboard instruments. You can opt for a solo line (recorder, violin, etc), continuo bass (cello, bass viol, bassoon, even bass recorder), or keyboard.
  • A Due Chori: two-choir repertoire played on four renaissance recorders and four viols.
  • Polychoral: an opportunity to work on a large-scale piece for instruments (and often voices) one-to-a-part. Open to viols, recorders and suitable renaissance wind instruments. Generally, larger sizes of instruments are particularly welcome.
  • Renaissance Wind: for those players of cornett, sackbut, crumhorn, curtal or other renaissance wind instruments – not including recorders!
  • Facsimile: working on sixteenth-century music from original notation. There is no better way to connect with the composer, but you will need to have some experience in clefs, note-values, rests and ligatures to join a non-permanent group. If you are interested but are a beginner or unsure of your level, there will be three graded sessions on reading this notation during the 11.30 slots.
  • Voices and Viols: a chance for more confident singers to sing with a consort of viols. This may be either a consort song with a single voice part or a verse anthem with more than one solo voice.

We will do our best to give you a variety of these options during the course, and when you apply you will be invited to select your favorites.

7.15pm Choir

Everyone welcome – no experience necessary. Philip takes the choir which usually performs to the rest of the course on the final evening.

8.15pm Tutti

The whole course gathers to work on a large-scale work for voices and instruments under a different tutor each day.

In addition to the tutored sessions, there are many opportunities to play informally.


There is a minimum expectation that all players will be competent on their instruments and comfortably able to hold their own, usually one to a part. This is so that all can enjoy playing in groups, large and small, with any combination of participants.

Recorder players must be competent playing soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders. Larger recorders are always warmly welcomed.

Viol players must be able to play more than one size of viol and be happy to read in C, G and F clefs.

The course operates at a=440, except by prior agreement with other players in small groups.

Acceptance of students is provisional. If we find it impossible to accommodate you within a compatible permanent group we will, of course, refund your deposit.


An extensive library is provided for participants for tutored sessions and informal music making. Sheet music will be available for sale from Jacks, Pipes and Hammers. The Early Music Shop offers instruments, CDs and accessories for sale. Please contact them before the course if there is anything in particular you would like them to bring.

Keep an eye on the website for further announcements about other shops.