LEA Awards 2007 title

(In association with the Music Education Council,
the PRS Foundation and Jazz Services)


Jazz Services Ltd (JSL) Diplomas

JSL exist to promote and develop jazz in the UK. In their association with the NMC in this scheme, they look for evidence of commitment to jazz education within education authorities’ and music services’ provision for school pupils and students, whether in or out of school, and for community education and adult continuing education. Singled out for honourable mentions this year are Bolton, Caerphilly, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lambeth, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Tower Hamlets. Details of the diploma awards are set out below.

Devon LEA have two youth jazz orchestras (DYJO 1 and 2) and an improvisation group tutored by three professional jazz musicians two of whom have teaching qualifications. The groups meet regularly with at least six public performance opportunities over a September – March season. Big band links have been made with Plymouth, Hampshire and Staffordshire.

General and specific schemes of work are prepared for each ensemble over the season. A specific improvisation course was designed and implemented by two tutors. Material for the senior DYJO orchestra has a more challenging repertoire that demonstrates how integral jazz improvisation is to the idiom; and, importantly, encourages musical empathy, support and interaction between instrumentalists rather than an exclusive pursuit of technical skills.

Soweto Kinch undertook a tour of six schools which involved 180 secondary school participants and concerts for 450 primary school pupils. The tour included INSET for able players and music educators across the county. The music services work with the highly successful gospel choir, referred to in the NMC major award citation, complemented many of the core areas of jazz teaching.

The importance of students having opportunities to see and hear live jazz is taken seriously; trips to jazz festivals and live gigs are arranged and the two youth jazz orchestras also perform in school “local learning communities” as a standard part of their season’s programme both to cascade skills and inspire the young people.

Original works for performance by DYJOs 1& 2 have been provided by Dave O’Higgins and Steve Waterman and further works by local composers have been commissioned.

JSL applaud Devon’s commitment through a thoughtful, developmental approach to jazz education which has within it the promise of even better things to come.

Planning to create a new base for the development and encouragement of jazz in education in the South of England came to fruition in 2006/07 with the launch of a jazz centre of excellence. This is an association between Southampton and the Turner Sims Concert Hall of the University of Southampton. (One of many successful outcomes of past collaborations between Turner Sims and the music service was the creation of the Southampton Youth Jazz Orchestra (SYJO)).
What makes this initiative so exciting is that it came about as a result of increasing demand from young musicians in Southampton.

There are several strands to the work of the Centre. The first task was to launch a new style of jazz ensemble, sufficiently flexible to cater for a range of needs and styles and able to fit into a pyramid structure. It was called the Jazz Workshop, a medium sized ensemble providing young musicians with little or no experience of playing jazz the chance to learn the basics in an enjoyable environment. The emphasis is on developing key skills such as group interaction, swing feel and improvisation. The workshop feeds directly into SYJO, which has the standard big band line-up playing contemporary jazz with a focus on UK and other European composers. SYJO works regularly with leading UK musicians, such as Julian Joseph, Denys Baptiste, Andy Sheppard, Guy Barker and Tim Garland.

Secondly, through educational workshops and master classes, and key to developing young musicians’ understanding and appreciation of jazz, is the chance for them to meet and learn from professionals face to face. For example:

  • regular workshops with professionals providing insights as to how players approach improvisation and playing generally. As well as Centre members, students from local schools and colleges have opportunity to participate. The aim is as much to inspire and enthuse young musicians to listen as it is to teach them to play;
  • master classes for those with great potential or proven ability are also on offer.

Thirdly, under career development, during this current year, the Centre is running seminars and talks featuring professional artists and those involved in the business side into how the jazz music world works from the perspective of the artist, the record company, the management, the media and education.

Fourthly, the available resources, which include all the Turner Sims’ facilities, are being developed. Thus, a library of jazz and improvised music is being built up and leading jazz composers are being commissioned to write specifically for Centre ensembles. And, of equal importance, the Centre is actively encouraging young musicians to write their own works, the pick of which will be played by the main ensembles. And, finally, the Centre’s participants gain access to most high profile jazz concerts at Turner Sims Concert Hall by means of significantly reduced prices.

It seems to JSL that the high quality and promise of this felicitous partnership speaks for itself!

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