Writing for an Orchestra

Book Now for Writing for an Orchestra
musicians in orchestra set up

Key information:

Course dates:
Wednesday evenings, 28 September–02 November 2022
Course times:
Art form:
9am, Sunday 18 September 2022
Level of study:
Short Courses and Summer Schools
Mode of study:
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Autumn | Evening

Course info

Book Now

  • Spaces are limited so early booking is encouraged.
  • The deadline for bookings is 9am on Sunday 18 September 2022, or when the course is at full capacity.

Ages 18+

Course Dates & Times

Wednesday evenings on 28 September, 05, 12, 19, 26 October, 02 November 2022
7pm-9pm weekly

The course also includes a one-to-one session (15 minutes) with the course tutor. Dates and timings of the session will be confirmed during the course, the one-to-one session will take place online. 

About Writing for an Orchestra

This six-week in-person evening course will introduce you to the fundamentals of orchestration and the pivotal role it can play in the communication of musical ideas. You will learn how to write idiomatically for the instruments of the orchestra, as well as how to balance and blend them with one another.

The topics and techniques discussed during the course will be illustrated with excerpts from the orchestral repertoire, demonstrating some of the ways in which the orchestra can be used to create atmosphere, drama, and emotion.

Who is the course for?

  • Aspiring composers and musicians with a passion for orchestra
  • Participants who would consider themselves to be beginner level composers
  • Minimum level of ABRSM Grade 5 Theory (or equivalent)

A basic understanding of music notation is required, but participants need not have had any prior experience in writing for orchestra.

What can I expect?

Over the course of the sessions, you will learn the fundamentals of orchestration, gaining an understanding of how to write idiomatically for the instruments of the orchestra, as well as an appreciation of the way that orchestral colour can be utilised to create atmosphere, drama and emotion.

You can expect:

  • An in-depth look at the orchestra, illustrated with examples from the orchestral repertoire.
  • An introduction to the fundamental techniques of orchestration, drawing upon examples from a wide range of orchestral pieces.
  • Examination of some of the different approaches that composers have taken to orchestral writing, and the role that orchestration can play in enhancing the impact of a work/works. 
  • Orchestration assignments that encourage you to carefully consider the capabilities of the instruments that you are writing for, whilst also thinking about the combinations of musical colours most suited to bringing notes to life.
  • A one-to-one session with the course tutor (approx. 15 minutes) outside of the course times (more information will be sent during the course)

Participants will be encouraged to complete (optional) short, weekly assignments in response to the subjects covered during the sessions


“Best composition tutor I've ever had, even after having studied music both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.”

– Amy, participant on Writing for an Orchestra, Jan–Feb, 2022


Do I need anything for the course?

A pencil and music manuscript paper are the only resources needed to carry out exercises for the course, although participants with access to music notation software (such as Sibelius, Finale or Dorico) may prefer to use this instead.

Course Fee


Book Now

  • Spaces are limited so early booking is encouraged.
  • The deadline for bookings is 9am on Sunday 18 September 2022, or when the course is at full capacity.


  • For everyone aged 18+
  • Participants should have knowledge of music notation and should have attained ABRSM Grade 5 Theory (or equivalent)
  • Participants must have sufficient English language skills to cope with course demands

About the Course Tutor

The course is taught by Peter Longworth.

Peter is a composer, teacher, music copyist, conductor and cinephile whose music has been performed internationally. Described by the Glasgow Herald as "dazzlingly atmospheric", his work has been commissioned by ensembles including the London Mozart Players, the Edinburgh Quartet, the Hebrides Ensemble and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. He has also had compositions workshopped publicly by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

An alumnus of both the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Young Composers' Programme and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Composers' Hub, Peter is currently reading for a PhD in composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. As a professor on the Electronic Music course at Guildhall School of Music & Drama he teaches modules on Orchestration and Conducting.

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