Chris Swann

Tutor in Clarinet and E Flat Clarinet

GRSM LRAM (Performer)

Email: [email protected]

To help develop students’ musical personas and to teach them how to learn to play the clarinet, to perform with insight and character, to assess performances and to become experts in their chosen field.

To assist students in becoming skilled and inspiring teachers.

To assist students to develop a wide range of professional skills.

To help all to enjoy their music-making.

Chris Swann studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won the Geoffrey Hawkes Prize for Clarinet Playing and was awarded the Alexander Roller Prize for Piano, subsequently spending twelve years as a clarinettist and saxophonist in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Chris resigned his postion with the RLPO in order to pursue a varied freelance career, playing Principal Clarinet with the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Hallé, Ulster, Scottish Chamber, Manchester Concert, National Symphony and Sinfonia Viva Orchestras.

He has made a number of concerto appearances including performances of Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto, Debussy’s Rhapsodie for Saxophone and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the RLPO, and he has toured as soloist with the Mozart Festival Orchestra (in Manchester, Dublin, Leicester and The Barbican in London) as well as performing the Finzi, Copland and Weber Clarinet Concertos other solo works with a number of other professional orchestras.

In December 1992 he was appointed acting orchestra manager with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra taking up the full-time position in April 1993, relinquishing it in August 1995 to become Head of Woodwind at Shrewsbury School, a part time post which he successfully combined with a busy schedule of regular playing engagements. In July 1998 he joined the Royal Northern College of Music as Tutor in Clarinet and Eb Clarinet.

As well as directing his nationally recognised ensemble ZEPHYR, Chris has also performed chamber music with the Maggini, Allegri and Alberni String Quartets and a wide variety of repertoire with members of Northern Chamber Orchestra, the RLPO’s Ensemble 10:10 and Camerata Ensemble of Manchester.

This work is combined with examining for ABRSM (graded and diploma), external examining for universities, coaching, conducting and presenting master-classes.

Personal Website

Undergraduate Teaching

Chris enjoys the challenges encountered in helping undergraduates develop their musical and practical skills. Areas such as learning to apply structured practice, altering established technical faults in embouchure, posture, breathing and fingers, learning to network with new (and future) colleagues, realising that there are others who play to a high standard and coping with the torrent of new activities, demands, targets and requirements all need sensitive treatment whilst the underlying imperative of becoming a fully developed musically aware individual has to be (gently) given priority.

Postgraduate Teaching

The honing and polishing of skills developed in preceeding years is the priority here with extensive repertoire knowledge needed. Postgraduate students may well be working or about to work professionally so topics which give insight and help in this field are important.

Professional Activity


Chris directs his nationally recognised chamber ensemble Zephyr (with performers drawn from the UK’s leading orchestras), gives entertaining and infomative master-classes, conducts a range of amateur orchestras and windbands, runs coaching sessions for such orchestras along with string colleague Nic Fallowfield, appears as soloist on both clarinet and saxophone as well as continuing to work as a freelance orchestral musician.


Chris is a graded and diploma examiner for ABRSM and regularly undertakes international tours. Countries visited in the last few years include Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China and The United States of America. Work for ABRSM has also included presenting workshop sessions for teachers and candidates and recording repertoire for the graded clarinet and saxophone lists.


Chris is always learning from experience and from more formal inputs such as professional development seminars presented by RNCM and ABRSM. New skills such as editing Arthur Benjamin’s Clarinet Quintet and assisting PGCE non-specialist intrumentalists to teach the clarinet are currently ongoing.