Hayward studied tuba and composition at the Royal Northern College of Music and at the University of Manchester, England. His involvement in contemporary music started when he attended a course in 1989 with Giancarlo Schiaffini and Luigi Nono.
In 1993 he attended a workshop lead by Barry Guy, which led to him joining the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra, where he played alongside many key figures in English improvised music. In 1994 he toured England with Anthony Braxton and the Creative Jazz Orchestra. From 1994 to 1997 he was an active member of London’s improvised music scene, as part of a quartet with John Butcher, Marcio Mattos and Phil Durrant, and in duos with John Edwards and Steve Beresford. In 1997 he toured England with the Butch Morris Conduction London Skyscraper. In the same year he also formed the trio rar with Axel Dörner and Radu Malfatti.
Through composing the solo tuba piece Sink for the London Musicians’ Collective Fifth Annual Festival of Experimental Music in 1996, he discovered the technique of rotating the tuba's valves, altering their conventional role from one of altering pitch to one of producing noise. His first notated composition to utilize this technique was Vier Tuben Rauschen, written in 1997 for Melvyn Poore’s English Tuba Consort. It was also the first to specify the tubas be placed horizontally, with the bells facing towards the audience, that has since become his trademark playing position on the English Eb tuba.
Robin Hayward moved to Berlin in 1998, where, in such groups as Das Kreisen, with Burkhard Beins and Annette Krebs, and roananax, with Andrea Neumann, Axel Dörner and Annette Krebs, he played a key role in the development of a style of improvisation characterized by long silences, reduced dynamics and restrained use of noise that has since been labeled Berlin Reductionism. Following these initial projects came the septet Phosphor, with Burkhard Beins, Annette Krebs, Andrea Neumann, Ignaz Schick, Michael Renkel and Axel Dörner, to be joined a year later by Alessandro Bosetti.
In 2002 he joined the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin and was also active in Plainsound Orchestra, founded by Marc Sabat, which marked the beginning a further approach to the tuba. Robin Hayward is currently doing a doctorate on the acoustics of this microtonal tuba at Berliner Technische Universität.