Michael Skinner’s playing career began in 1955 as a jazz drummer working in traditional jazz bands. In 1960 whilst at University he joined the City of Belfast Symphony Orchestra playing snare drum and xylophone.
Coming to London in 1962 he began freelancing as an orchestral percussionist. In 1963 he joined Sadler’s Wells Opera as Principal Percussionist leaving in December 1968 to freelance again. Also during this period he played as a percussionist on West End shows including Maggie May, Robert & Elizabeth and Sweet Charity. Between 1970 and 1972 he was Principal Percussionist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and between 1972-3, Principal Percussionist of then New Philharmonia Orchestra.
In October 1973 he joined the Royal Opera House Orchestra as Principal Percussion a position he holds at present.
Throughout this period of time he has played as a freelance player with every orchestra in London including first performances of compositions by composers such as Benjamin Britten and Sir Michael Tippett.
Michael has played on many movie sound tracks and appeared in the film 200 Motels with Frank Zappa. He also played with Benny Goodman in a performance of Malcolm Arnold’s Clarinet Concerto.
Michael is a founder member of the Guild of Ancient Fifes and Drums. He has made a particular study of the drumming styles of Switzerland and the Pipe Drumming of Ireland and Scotland.
Michael is committed to teaching and is President of the National Associations of Percussion Teachers. He is author of Roll Review, Snare Drum Rudiments and Graded Repertoire and Studies for Snare Drum Grades 6-8 and co-authored Play Tuned Percussion with the late James Baldes OBE. He has given masterclasses at the Royal Northern College of Music, the Birmingham School of Music, in Croatia and Germany.
Michael joined the staff of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1989. He teaches all areas of orchestral percussion with a special responsibility for teaching the snare drum. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1989.