Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire join forces yearly to offer a unique training programme for music students and professional musicians looking for a career as performers of contemporary music. Please see below for details and email [email protected] if you require any further information.

Read our NEXT Case Studies of ex students

About the NEXT Musicians Study Programme

NEXT offers early career musicians an unprecedented opportunity to become successful contemporary music performers. In a year of intensive training NEXT Musicians will learn to perform some of the most inspiring and challenging works written in the last 70 years. You will receive coaching and one-to-one teaching sessions from BCMG players and world famous soloists. Musicians will have many opportunities to perform, including side-by-side concerts with BCMG, and will work directly with the world’s leading composers on the interpretation of their music.

Classes in contemporary music history and analysis, instrumental techniques and digital technologies will complement studies, while regular lectures from artistic directors, publishers and other invited guests from the music industry will equip musicians with the necessary skills to present and promote new music to different audiences.

NEXT Musicians will gain precious insights on how to run a contemporary music organisation from project/concert management to fundraising and marketing, and will have the opportunity to take part in BCMG’s Learning Programme and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s community-based activities, thus developing another essential aspect of being a professional musician today. 

What to expect

  • Work alongside world-famous composers and performers
  • Meet key people on the international contemporary music scene
  • Perform side-by-side with BCMG musicians in high-profile concerts
  • Build your own ensemble and present concerts with fellow participants

What you will gain

  • In-depth knowledge of contemporary music from the second half of the 20th century to the present day, including its aesthetics and techniques;
  • Confidence in programming, promoting and presenting new music to the public;
  • Core skills for a successful professional career in contemporary music performance.
  • A joint official certificate from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and BCMG.

Individual teaching

Musicians will receive up to 15 hours of one-to-one teaching from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire faculty/BCMG musicians focused on the performance of contemporary music. These core hours will be supplemented by additional individual and group sessions to address specific needs of individual students or performance projects.


NEXT Musicians will receive specialised coaching on ensemble performance from BCMG musicians and international guest artists, and will have the opportunity to work with leading composers on the performance of their music.

Lectures and masterclasses

A wide variety of lectures and masterclasses will be provided as part of the programme, covering the following areas: advanced instrumental techniques, music history, music analysis, music criticism, artistic programming, marketing and fundraising for contemporary music.

Performance opportunities

Solo: Each musician will be required to give at least one solo performance during the course of the year. Musicians will be responsible for the planning, promotion, and execution of these solo performances.

Chamber Ensemble: Two chamber ensemble performances will be held throughout the year. As with solo performances, participants will be fully engaged in their planning, promotion, and execution. When possible, composers will take part in the performance projects.

BCMG Side-by-Side: As part of the programme musicians will have the opportunity to take part in BCMG concerts at high-profile venues. A modest remuneration will be provided to participants performing in the Side-by-Side concerts.


Royal Birmingham Conservatoire applicants: Undergraduate students starting Year 4 of their BMus course in September 2022. Postgraduate students starting Year 1 or 2 of their MMus/PgDip/APD/PhD course in September 2022.

Postgraduate students at other UK and European music institutions and recently graduated musicians.


  • Instrumental performers (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano, harp, violin, viola, cello, double-bass)
  • Live electronics performer (one)
  • Conductor (one)


The cost of the programme is almost entirely subsidised by our main funders. The programme is free for participants who are also Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students, while other participants will be expected to pay a fee of £1,500 to access Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s facilities and NEXT activities. Means-tested bursaries are also available.

How do I Apply?

Application details for the 2022-23 academic session will be made available here in due course.


Watch Will, NEXT conductor 2021-21, talk about his experience


This project is made possible through the support of our key funder Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.