Classical Performance

Students who pursue a Classical Performance major at Victoria have the opportunity to study with the internationally-acclaimed performers, recording artists and teachers on our permanent staff and our roster of artist teachers.

You will work with an instrumental teacher on a weekly basis, with whom you will develop a thorough grounding in repertoire, technique, style, and interpretation. Instrumental/vocal classes and workshops supplement individual lessons, in which you further develop and hone your skills, providing opportunities for you to perform, discuss, and analyse your work in a supportive and encouraging environment.

We are proud to foster a close relationship with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and engage many of their professional talents as artist teachers and mentors on a weekly basis.

Performance instruments and areas of study include:

  • brass
  • classical guitar
  • harp
  • historical performance
  • organ and historical keyboards
  • percussion
  • piano
  • strings
  • voice
  • woodwinds.

You can see and hear performances by students and staff in the Classical Performance Programme on the NZSM Vimeo channel.

Our Classical Performance graduates go on to experience rich and varied careers in orchestras, chamber ensembles, and concert bands, solo performance in instrumental and vocal disciplines, as well as a variety of careers in music education, music administration and  other vocations within the global music industry and in entrepreneurial business.

Programme highlights

Classical Performance students prepare for modern, multifaceted professional careers. They work with some of the world’s most versatile musicians, respected as teachers and active as recitalists, soloists, orchestral, and chamber musicians. They:

  • study brass through a comprehensive syllabus and programme of activities that will provide you with goals and structure in preparation for a future in performance
  • study classical guitar and develop technical and interpretive skills necessary to perform a wide range of classical guitar repertoire in both solo and chamber music settings
  • study historical performance and have access to a significant collection of historical instruments and knowledge of practice from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Instruments may include harpsicord, fortepiano, baroque woodwind and strings, natural horn and trumpet, and narrow-bore trombones
  • study organ and historical keyboards exploring historical and contemporary repertoire and its stylistic approaches within solo and ensemble performance contexts
  • study percussion with access to a dedicated classical and orchestral percussion room and instruments such as timpani, bass drum, snares, bells, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, blocks and cymbals
  • study piano and develop your skills in the solo, ensemble, and concerto repertoire to a high degree of professional competence.
  • study strings, classical guitar and harp and develop skills in the standard solo, ensemble and orchestral literature for your instrument. Teachers include performers from the resident New Zealand String Quartet and Te Kōkī Trio
  • study voice with intensive language training, stagecraft and vocal ensemble work alongside individual lessons. A full scale opera with orchestra is performed every second year
  • study woodwind and saxophone in a classical context and extend your repertoire with access to workshops and performances for jazz saxophone and clarinet and the NZSM Jazz Big Band
  • study may be available for instruments outside those usually taught, such as organ and recorder
  • be introduced to orchestral conducting through courses such as PERF 210 Introduction to Conducting
  • benefit from the close relationship with the Composition and Jazz programmes
  • check your eligibility to apply for a number of awards and scholarships, including the NZSM Director’s scholarship.

For more details and full degree requirements, see the Bachelor of Music degree. For postgraduate degrees in Classical Performance, see the Postgraduate study page.

See the performance opportunities available to NZSM students.

Who can study Classical Performance?

Students wanting to study Classical Performance are expected to have reached a good level of proficiency on their instrument (eg Grade VII or VIII), although it is not obligatory to have previously taken exams. To study Classical Performance at Victoria you must pass an audition.

Workshops, masterclasses and performance opportunities

Your experience as a Classical Performance student also includes exposure to major international touring artists who give masterclasses, workshops, and performances throughout the year. You will have frequent opportunities to perform, not only at the NZSM, but also in large and small downtown concerts. There will be the chance to audition for the Jazz choir, Big Band, biennial opera, Orchestra Wellington and occasionally the NZSO. Classical Performance students are also able to join in with masterclasses associated with the Jazz programme. Competitions for soloists and ensembles are available.

Take a look at the opportunities for students in Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.

See also our Events pages for details of recent concerts and performances.


Students from the Classical Performance Programme have gone on to forge successful careers as musicians, recording artists and teachers. Find out more about our Classical Performance Alumni.


Students are taught by staff and artist teachers who are nationally respected performers, teachers and recording artists. Here you can find a list of all Classical Performance staff teaching in the NZSM.