Thank you for visiting my website. Sarah has many years of experience as a modern and baroque flute soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician.  Teaching music performance at full ability range, communicating enthusiasm for flute playing, and encouraging pupils to pursue music either as a hobby or to university/college level outline a number of Sarah’s passionate aims.

Having studied music performance at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and specialising in eighteenth-century performance practice, Sarah aspires to be a thinking performer: ‘Play from the soul, not like a trained bird!’ (C.P.E. Bach). Sarah’s PhD thesis and recital recording looks at how rhetorical and religious traditions in the eighteenth century influenced compositional practice and the performer’s delivery.

PhD Abstract

‘The use of rhetorical elements, structures, and figures in Baroque music is readily acknowledged in vocal and texted music. In abstract music, however, rhetoric is a more subjective matter. This thesis provides a rhetorical and religious narrative reading of C.P.E. Bach’s flute and continuo sonatas (Wq. 125-9, 134) (1738-40). It will explore the integration of the art of rhetoric and Lutheranism into C.P.E. Bach’s education, musical training, and working environment. The idea that rhetorical devices found in the flute sonatas are employed in the service of a religious narrative based on the Lutheran doctrine of Law and Gospel is suggested. Rhetorical principles appear not only to help shape the expression and form of the music but also to contribute to the music possessing extra-musical meaning that invites understanding. As evidence for this interpretation, I offer a way of thinking present in texted music and semi-abstract music from Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A rhetorical-musical vocabulary was established as a standard practice throughout the eighteenth century, which sought to convey religious understanding in music. Similar figures of rhetoric applied to convey a religious meaning can be identified in abstract music. Having demonstrated how rhetorical elements influence compositional practice, the same principles can be shown to inform the performer’s delivery of the music with regard to ornamentation, rhythmic alteration, articulation, phrasing, tempo, dynamic, and gesture. These performance outcomes can be clearly understood from the accompanying recording of the six flute and continuo sonatas and are theoretically supported in the thesis. It is hoped that performers of eighteenth-century music will be inspired to make their own rhetorical criticism, enabling them to present a composer’s ideas with understanding, clarity, and persuasion. Moreover, the performer and listener are invited to view the frequent display of conflict in German instrumental music of the Baroque period from a new perspective.’



Sarah studied modern and baroque flute with Edwina Smith during her undergraduate degree at the University of York. She was awarded AHRC grants to pursue her postgraduate studies in York; after completing her MA (with distinction) in baroque performance practice, she has recently been awarded a PhD on rhetoric and baroque performance practice with Professor Peter Seymour. Throughout her postgraduate study Sarah has participated in classes with Rachel Brown and Pamela Thorby. Sarah enjoys a busy performance schedule with period instrument orchestras such as the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, Newcastle Baroque, Leeds Baroque Orchestra, and the Eighteenth-Century Sinfonia. She is also a dedicated chamber musician, both on modern and period instruments.  Sarah has recently been involved in recordings of J.S. Bach’s St John Passion and Mass in B minor with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, director Peter Seymour, released on Signum Classics label. Sarah is employed as a flute teacher at Ampleforth College and has presented baroque articulation, rhetoric, and performance practice seminars and workshops to undergraduates at the University of York.


PhD Music Performance 2011: ‘C.P.E. Bach’s Flute and Continuo Sonatas (Wq. 125-129, 134): Rhetorical Processes Used to Convey a Religious Understanding and Implications for Performance’. University of York, England, UK. Supervisor: Professor Peter Seymour

MA Music: Distinction (2005-2006) University of York, England, UK

BA Hons Music: Class I (2002-2005) University of York, England, UK

DipABRSM Flute Performance: Clear Pass (2004)

ABRSM Grade 8 Piano: Distinction (2006)

ABRSM Grade 7 Oboe: Distinction (2001)


Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Awards: PhD and MA Music, University of York, England, UK

Teaching Experience

NLMS Course Tutor, Queenswood School, Hertfordshire, UK (2014-present day)

Approved Flute Tutor, York Arts Academy, York, UK (2013-present day)

Early Music Tutor, Baroque Flute, University of Hull, Hull, UK (2013-present day)

Assistant Instructor of Flute, University of York, York, North Yorkshire, UK (2012-present day)

Masterclass in eighteenth-century performance practice and baroque flute recital, University of Hull, UK (2012)

Instructor of Flute, Ampleforth College, York, North Yorkshire, UK (2009-present day)

Instructor of Flute, St Martin’s Ampleforth, Gilling East, York, North Yorkshire, UK (2009-present day)

Instructor of Flute, Queen Ethelburga’s School, York, North Yorkshire, UK (2008)

Private Instructor of Flute, York, North Yorkshire, UK (2007-present day)

Performance Tutor: MA baroque performance module: baroque flute and eighteenth-century performance practice tuition, University of Leeds, UK (2008)

Course Tutor: Undergraduate performance module ‘Practical Project: Staging of the John Passion’: Individual tutoring sessions, articulation workshop, woodwind coaching, and informal marking, University of York, UK (2008)

Course Tutor: Undergraduate performance module ‘Eighteenth-Century Project’: Seminars: ‘Articulation Methods’ and ‘Rhetoric and Performance in Bach’, both in a workshop format, University of York, UK (2007-8)

Postgraduate Tutor: For students working towards a MA degree in music and marked essays submissions, University of York, UK (2007)

Performing Experience

Solo Recitals (2002-present day):

University of York, UK

University of Hull, UK

Lamel Beeches, York, UK

Heslington Church, York, UK

Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, Doncaster, UK

Temple Newsam, Leeds, UK

Orchestral Engagements (2002-present day):

Principal Flute, University Symphony Orchestra, York, UK

Principal Flute, New Earswick Musical Society, York, UK

Baroque Flute, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, York, UK

Baroque Flute, Newcastle Baroque, Newcastle, UK

Baroque Flute, Leeds Baroque, Leeds, UK

Baroque Flute, Eighteenth-Century Sinfonia, UK

Baroque Flute, Lammermuir Baroque Soloists, UK

Baroque Flute, Saraband Consort, UK

Baroque and Modern Flute, Bellissime chamber ensemble, UK

Festival Engagements (2002-present day):

York Early Music Festival, York, UK

Beverley Early Music Festival, Beverley, UK

Ryedale Festival, Ryedale, UK

Ribchester Festival, Ribchester, UK


J.S. Bach’s St John Passion, YBS, dir. Professor Peter Seymour, Signum Classics, UK (2011)

J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor, YBS, dir. Professor Peter Seymour, Signum Classics, UK (2011)

J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, YBS, dir. Professor Peter Seymour, Signum Classics, UK (forthcoming)

Research Output


‘A Musical-Rhetorical Vocabulary in C.P.E. Bach’s Flute and Continuo Sonatas Wq. 125-129, 134 and Implications for Performance’, The Early Music Performer, Journal of the National Early Music Association, Issue 25, November 2009, 14-26.


Conference Papers:

International Conference on Music and Emotion, Durham University, UK. September 2009: ‘C.P.E. Bach’s Flute and Continuo Sonatas (Wq. 125-129, 134): Rhetorical Processes Used to Convey a Religious Understanding and Implications for Performance’.

RMA Research Students’ Conference, Kings College London, UK. January 2009: ‘C.P.E. Bach’s Flute and Continuo Sonatas (Wq. 125-129, 134): Rhetorical Processes Used to Convey a Religious Understanding and Implications for Performance’.


PhD recital recording: C.P.E. Bach’s flute and continuo sonatas Wq. 125-129, 134.  Sarah McNulty: baroque flute; Peter Seymour: harpsichord.  Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, York, UK (2010)


Sarah’s Teaching Philosophies:

  • To help the student develop a relaxed tone and technique
  • To help develop constructive self criticism and a self-reliant approach
  • To help the student to explore their own individual interpretations of pieces studied
  • To encourage the student to explore a range of musical styles in some depth
  • To help develop a confident and positive approach to performance
  • To help develop an understanding of music theory

Areas of technique and repertoire to cover depending on student level:

  • Posture
  • Breathing
  • Tone development
  • Articulation
  • Correct fingerings and relaxed hand positions
  • Pitch control
  • Scales
  • Studies and exercises for tone, technique, articulation, sonority, flexibility, and freedom of phrasing
  • Pieces for graded syllabuses, baroque/classical, romantic and modern periods (including contemporary/extended techniques)

Lesson content:

  • I teach an array of students in individual lessons ranging from total beginner to highly advanced.  I like to maintain variety by covering aspects of tone, technique and repertoire in each lesson, varying the emphasis according to the current needs of the student
  • Exam preparation:  I teach the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (or its equivalent) exam syllabus for scales, sight-reading, repertoire, aural training, and theory to suit individual student requirements. I will help them prepare for the junior or senior diplomas of the Royal Schools of Music (DipABRSM or LRSM). I am also familiar with GCSE and A level music and University performance syllabuses
  • If pupils do not require to be entered for external examinations I suggest pieces that I think the individual student will enjoy, that will help their tonal, technical, and musical development.  I am always pleased when students bring pieces to me that they wish to learn and I also enjoy working with students on pieces that are new to me, discovering the piece with them
  • Genre/styles: Baroque, classical, romantic, modern, baroque and modern flute, specialising in the following areas: baroque flute, eighteenth-century performance practice, C.P.E. Bach, and rhetoric
  • Workshops and masterclasses offered in performance practice and flute pedagogy
  • Teaching fee: £19 half an hour or £38 an hour both baroque and modern flute
  • Cancellation policy: 48 hours notice is required. The lesson fee will be charged unless the student can reschedule the lesson in the same teaching week.


Audio Files. Please click here below to hear me play


C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata in G major Wq. 127 for flute and continuo





C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata in A minor Wq. 128 for flute and continuo





PhD recital recording philosophy: ‘The recording attached to my thesis provides evidence for how a rhetorical study can inform performance.  One can research and document in written form how performers can convey rhetorical form and emotive content but they can only truly convince the audience by playing.  The purpose of my thesis is to supply a theoretical basis to support the performance as an aural presentation.  The listener is made aware of the musical choices that the performer makes and the negotiations that lead to each end result.  The audience are prevented from taking any aspect of the performer’s interpretation for granted.  If listeners hear this recording and are provoked into finding more about how it was achieved then they can consult this thesis for a detailed explanation.  The intention of the recording and thesis is to reawaken audiences to the actual processes of creation that underlie the performer’s role as an interpreter.  If the performance provokes questioning about its emotional content in response to aesthetic experience, a deeper understanding of the work is attained’.


My 14 year old daughter, Anna, has been taking flute lessons with Sarah for 14 months. I know that Anna has the highest regard for Sarah, and when I asked her to explain why she said that firstly Sarah is passionate about the flute and this passion rubs off on her; secondly Sarah is very knowledgeable about a wide range of music and composers and works hard to help her to understand the music she is playing; and finally she always comes away from lessons with Sarah feeling that she has learnt a lot. From my perspective as a parent, there has been a noticeable improvement in Anna’s playing since she started lessons with Sarah, she looks forward to her lessons and Anna takes little persuading to practice the homework that Sarah has given her.(Alastair R)


Sarah is a caring, compassionate teacher and an inspiring practitioner. As a much older beginner on both the baroque and modern flutes, I have benefited greatly from Sarah’s expertise. Having learned the rudiments of music as a young child, I returned to playing after a 40-year break. Sarah’s constant encouragement has provided the necessary reassurance for me to make good progress. She makes no allowances for my age, demanding accuracy and reminding me frequently of issues of technique, which have slipped my mind. I very much appreciate this; I enjoy practising and look forward to my lessons. Sarah is extremely knowledgeable about her subject. This enriches her lessons, which are a collaborative experience as we interpret pieces together. My introduction to Sarah came with the highest recommendation. I can only endorse this recommendation to prospective pupils of all ages.(Suzanne M)

Contact me

Contact me






Please send me a message below:

Dr Sarah McNulty

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 07787747295