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Centre for Advanced Training: Contemporary Team

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Study Leader: James Birkett

James has worked as a professional guitarist since the 1970s, undertaking the full range of freelance work, including TV/Radio, concerts, backing artists, theatre orchestras and musicals; as a jazz guitarist he continues to work with a variety of ensembles for concerts, recordings, broadcasts and festivals. A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, James has been at the forefront of the development of qualification pathways for musicians who wish to study jazz, popular and contemporary music. From developing and leading the Graduate Diploma and BMus (Hons) in Jazz, Popular and Commercial music, he has taken up the posts of Artistic Advisor and Director of jazz and related music for the Young Musicians Programme at Sage Gateshead. His specialist teaching areas are performance and improvisation and he has delivered seminars and papers on teaching and learning issues at national and international conferences, universities and conservatoires. Publications include Jazz Guitar Vols. 1 and 2 (International Music Publications), various articles (The Music Teacher, Popular Music Journal) and the development of jazz study and teaching materials for all levels and ages.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Bradley johnston website size

Bradley Johnston (Guitar)

Bradley began his academic and practical journey at the age of fourteen when he gained a full-scholarship to study on Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme’s Centre for Advanced Training, under the direct supervision of Dr. James Birkett – studying the art of jazz guitar and related advanced jazz theory. He was also a featured soloist in Jambone and had the opportunity to work under the direction of national and international artists.

Bradley graduated from the B.Mus. (Hons): Jazz, Popular and Commercial music degree programme in 2016 at Sage Gateshead with a First Class Honours classification, followed by a PGCE teaching qualification at Newcastle College in 2017. He is currently studying for a M.Mus. (Masters of Music) at Newcastle University. Alongside teaching Bradley performs in a variety of ensemble formats (from solo guitar, duos, trios to Big Bands and theatre orchestras), which include his original compositions and arrangements.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training