Bassoon courses and projects

Bassoonists on the August 2021 bassoon weekend at Higham Hall

5-day Bassoon Course in the English Lake District

led by

Laurence Perkins and Amy Thompson

with pianist  John Gough (Saturday and Sunday)

Amy Thompson and Laurence Perkins

Thursday 5th - Monday 9th May 2022

at Higham Hall, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria

Incredible value for money  5 days (4 nights) for just £495, inclusive of excellent accommodation, superb Cumbrian food and spectacular views of the Lakeland hills.

Outstanding tuition  Laurence Perkins is one of the UK's leading solo bassoonists (a solo recording artist for the Hyperion label), and he is joined on this course by Amy Thompson, a post-graduate performance student and Musicians' Company Lambert Scholar at the Royal College of Music in London. Together, they will be offering a wealth of expertise and friendly, helpful guidance on a wide range of technical and musical aspects - all designed to make your bassoon playing easier and more enjoyable. Laurence and Amy will be joined by pianist John Gough for an informal Saturday evening tutors concert, plus a chance for course participants to play in a Sunday morning Performance Class with piano.

Bassoon ensembles in the Lecture Room, Higham Hall
Bassoon ensembles in the Lecture Room, Higham Hall
Higham Hall, near Bassenthwaite lake
Higham Hall, near Bassenthwaite lake

Expert advice on

 good tone and tuning
 sound projection
 reed adjustment
 technical fluency
 musical interpretation

There will also be optional reed-making sessions - and, of course, great opportunities to play in bassoon ensembles!

Higham Hall is famous for its excellent facilities, fine accommodation and outstanding catering. With its stunning location in the northern Lake District, you can enjoy fabulous views of the north Cumbrian hills, and invigorating walks nearby. Described by previous course players as “warm, welcoming, perfect setting - a very special place” and the food “Very tasty and varied”, Higham Hall is a superb venue for an enjoyable and memorable musical event.

Travel is easy to Higham Hall...

By car: via M6 (to junction 40), approx. 30 minutes along A66, and 5 minutes along the country lanes to Higham Hall where there are plenty of free parking spaces.

By train: to Penrith main line station with optional minibus transfer directly to Higham (small additional charge - book in advance). Direct trains from London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow - and many more stations!

Travel on arrival and departure days! Convenient schedule with arrival between 4pm and 6pm on Thursday 5th, and departure after lunch on Monday 9th, means you can travel from and return to most places in the UK without additional overnight accommodation en route.

Garden and view towards the Lakeland hills
Garden and view towards the Lakeland hills

Book now!

Places are limited on this course.

Please send an online application form (click this blue link) to apply and check for an available space on the course. Once a place is confirmed, your booking and payments will be directly with Higham Hall.

This course is part of the Wind Serenades series of courses at Higham Hall. All details are subject to change - please check this webpage for any updates.

Bassenthwaite lake, just a short distance from Higham Hall
Bassenthwaite lake, just a short distance from Higham Hall


News, on-line events, links and other information during the present coronavirus crisis

Magnard Ensemble - CMF 20 November 2015
Screenshot 2020-07-16 at 07.59.34

A new composition for your chamber group?

Catriona McDermid is currently pursuing a successful career as a freelance bassoonist in London, but that is proving rather difficult for her and all her colleagues around the world at the moment! Luckily, she is also a fine arranger, and would love to hear from anyone who might be interested in commissioning a new arrangement for your wind ensemble, which would be something to look forward to when you are all able to get together again!

You can hear some of her work - she has arranged the Rachmaninov Prelude in Eb Major for wind quintet (published by Wonderful Winds), and Dvorak Slavonic Dance in G Minor for Piano and Wind Quintet (published by  Airy Publications) - click on the composer name to hear a recording, or the publisher name for sheet music details. If you would like to enquire about something specifically for your ensemble, please send a message via the CONTACT form on this website.

Bassoon Outreach to Support Students

A highly innovative website has recently been launched in the USA, with interesting information about the bassoon and its players. Click HERE to go directly to this website.


led by Laurence Perkins


2019: HANDEL 'Musick for the Royal Fireworks'
270th anniversary performance at the Royal Academy of Music, London, conducted by Laurence Perkins on 27th April 2019
(BDRS/RAM joint promotion)
Hear the complete performance on the BDRS website - click HERE


2018 - Year of the Bassoon
On-line audio recordings and videos including

Laurence Perkins: Bassoon Anthem  A multitrack recording of a piece specially composed by Laurence Perkins for the 2018 project - listen free to the full track on Spotify, click HERE

Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story  Four songs recorded by Laurence with pianist Yoshiko Endo playing the piano that once belonged to Leonard Bernstein, and may possibly have been used in the composition of this music.Click HERE for a free YouTube sampler of these recordings, or download MP3 files from iTunes or Amazon - click the appropriate link.

Michel Corrette: Two Arias  Recorded on location in woodland in the south of France, with owls, cicadas, bird song and a distant chapel bell. Click HERE for a free sampler of these recordings, or download MP3 files from Amazon - click the appropriate link.

Volodymyr Runchak: Lamento and Moto Perpetuo  Two contemporary pieces which explore the bassoon in highly expressive ways. Listen free to the full performances on YouTube - click HERE

Catriona McDermid  Video of a young professional bassoonist (a former student of Laurence Perkins) making her way in the challenging environment of professional playing in London. See this on YouTube - click HERE


The Vibrant '60s
A double-reed ensemble performance (oboes and bassoons) in St. James's Park, London - 3rd June 2017

(a British Double Reed Society event)


RNCM 'Young Bassoons'
Free Sunday morning sessions led by Laurence Perkins, for school-age bassoonists of any playing level. For details, click HERE


International Bassoon Day
Sunday 11th October 2015

and Autumn 2015 UK bassoon project

This was a marathon two-month education project, beginning with International Bassoon Day on Sunday 11th October 2015, followed by a total of 35 events around the UK - 27 'Bear-faced Bassoonery' presentations, plus 8 performances of the concert programme 'Bassoon Voyager' (click here for details).

Massed bassoons outside the Royal Albert Hall, London, on International Bassoon Day, 11th October 2015 (photo by John Durham)
Massed bassoons outside the Royal Albert Hall, London, on International Bassoon Day, 11th October 2015 (photo by John Durham)

The above photo (by John Durham) was taken on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall, on International Bassoon Day - 38 bassoonists gathered to play Mozart on a beautifully sunny lunchtime. Watch excerpts of the London event on YouTube - click HERE to see this delightful memento of a special occasion!
Martin Jones has also put his own film of the RAH event on YouTube - click HERE to see it.

Bassoon quartets live on BBC Radio 3

A feature about International Bassoon Day was the first item on BBC Radio 3's popular drive-time In Tune programme two days previously  on Friday 9th October 2015, and featured four bassoonists from different walks of life. Listen to a performance from that live radio broadcast - the performers are Laurence Perkins, Rachel Whibley, Matthew Kitteringham and Alex Kane.

Mozart: Adagio, KV580a (arranged for bassoon quartet by Laurence Perkins) - duration 4’35"