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Silent Film Accompaniment – A Workshop with Colin Sell

1:30 pm - 8:30 pm BOOK NOW

WM College is delighted to welcome Colin Sell, pianist on BBC Radio 4’s long-running comedy series, ‘I’m Sorry I haven’t A Clue’, to teach an intensive workshop in live silent film accompaniment as part of our Summer School. Colin has a great deal of experience accompanying silent film around the country. If you’re an instrumentalist who would like a hands-on introduction to silent film accompaniment in just a day, this masterclass is for you.

The workshop will enable you to develop a methodological approach to accompanying silent cinema in front of an audience. The afternoon tuition covers skills, styles and strategies for live silent film accompaniment, informed by some historical background. Put your newly-learnt skills into practice in the evening, when each participant will accompany a short silent film (of 3 to 5 minutes in duration) for an audience consisting of the tutor and other class participants. Please scroll down for a detailed list of course content at the bottom of this page.


This workshop is aimed at musicians who play an instrument capable of being both chordal and melodic (e.g. piano or guitar). Advanced playing skills are not expected, although you must be comfortable with improvising with reasonable confidence at your current skill level as no musical scores will be used.

A background in playing any or some of musical theatre, jazz, pop, rock, folk, classical or related Western musical styles is important, but there are no academic or sight-reading expectations. The emphasis of the workshop is on inventing ‘in the moment’, tapping into imagination and into whatever musical background or training you have.

The workshop is taught in a performing arts studio equipped with a large screen to show the films, digital and acoustic pianos, and amplifiers for other instruments as needed. Headphones will be provided for the sections of the workshop involving private practice. The films used will be primarily from the American and European silent film eras, i.e. 1895 to approximately 1930.

If you have further questions, please contact Hilary Robinson on

Workshop content – detail:

1. Brief overview of the background and history of silent cinema accompaniment, and approaches and challenges discussed.

2. You will learn to employ and develop instrumental skills as both a melodic and chordal player to meet a film’s requirements.

3. You will learn to identify the musical style and/or historical period which is appropriate for a film.

4. Within the musical style or period of a film, you will learn to identify the musical requirements of each scene or section, and adapt the accompaniment as necessary.

5. No musical scores will be used, so you will be encouraged to work from your imagination and invent accompaniment as films of different genres are shown.

Refunds policy:

No refunds


44 Crowndale Road
Tel: 020 7255 4700
7 Leighton Place
Tel: 020 7241 8572