LEA Awards 2008 title

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


The Jazz Services’ Will Michael Diploma 2007/08


These Diplomas are awarded annually by Jazz Services in association with the NMC/MEC LEA Music Awards Scheme which has been running for over thirty years; only recently has specific recognition been given to jazz in education.

The Diploma is named in honour of Will Michael who, until his death earlier this year, was Head of Music at Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School. Will was a hugely respected jazz educator on the national stage and joint architect of this jazz education awards scheme; he was also an invaluable member of the Jazz Services Education Panel.

The citations set out below speak for themselves. We warmly commend also submissions we received from Bolton, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham. We suspect that in their submission Glasgow sold themselves seriously short!


Devon All three Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra (DYJO) tutors play jazz professionally. INSET for both gifted young musicians and tutors was provided, variously, by Clark Tracey, Scott Stroman and senior experienced music service jazz tutors. Further opportunities will be opened up for gifted and talented young players through the hosting of county based workshops run by the Youth Music funded National Youth Jazz Collective (the pilot for which was run by Jazz Services last year). The Authority supports two County Youth Jazz Orchestras, and an improvisation ensemble, which meet monthly and have performance opportunities of at least six gigs per season plus tours. Indeed the DYJO programme takes live jazz to schools and adult audiences throughout the county; it also provides for shared concerts with community bands.

A new programme, “Jazz Explosion”, included workshops for key stage 2 pupils. Teaching materials and lesson plans are published on the website in advance. The programme was targeted at clusters of primary schools in rurally isolated areas of Devon. By way of practical curriculum guidance, jazz improvisation and small band courses have been designed and implemented by the manager and conductor of DYJO 1. General and specific schemes of work are prepared for each county-wide ensemble and their progression is monitored and from time to time evaluated.

Composition students use the DYJO ensembles as vehicles to develop their arranging and composition techniques. Those same ensembles commission and play original material by internationally recognized composers.

The City of Edinburgh support the Edinburgh Schools Jazz Orchestra (ESJO) and ESJO 2, the training band. They meet weekly throughout the year – and that represents serious commitment - and feature in all large events organized and promoted by the City. All venue and staffing costs are met by the Authority, and there is no charge to the young musicians.

All instrumental tutors employed by the City’s Arts & Learning Service attended INSET on jazz improvisation followed by a ten-week programme of workshops and rehearsals for 30 pupils and staffs. Facilitated by the Music Service and delivered by Cathie Rae’s Thick Skinned Productions this pilot, was funded by the Scottish Arts Council, with the aim of developing a jazz improvisation course to aid students’ composition skills. Participants benefited through

  • positive experiences in the freedom of improvisation, through theory and practical exercises;
  • increased knowledge of jazz theory and harmony;
  • the development of tools and skills to write music – all students wrote at least one piece of new music;
  • practical experience of how improvisation relates to and can be used in composition.

Recent developments saw both ESJO 1 & 2 engage in a year long programme of regular training sessions with Tommy Smith and members of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in collaboration with West Lothian and West Dumbartonshire education authorities and funded by the Scottish Arts Council.

And finally, jazz course graduates have been recruited by the Instrumental Music Service, which in turn has lead to the formation of many new school-based jazz ensembles.

This is indeed a music service committed to jazz!

Through the Lincolnshire Youth Jazz & Rock Academy 14-19 year olds, drawn from schools and further education colleges, come together from across the County to form four ensembles – a jazz orchestra, a funk/fusion group, a rhythm & blues group and a contemporary rock group. The Academy offers a total of 44 places covering the normal rhythm section and front line instruments. Selection is based on demo recordings and teacher testimonials alongside more formal music grade indicators. The Academy website features live recordings of students’ work and has Youtube links to essential repertoire listening. Academy ensembles are featured at most of the large weekend festivals throughout the County.

Music service tutorial staff are supplemented by four professional jazz musicians. Whole staff INSET on creativity and improvisation was delivered by Richard Ingham. And following training, staff have been assigned tasks to develop and complete support guidance for jazz within the Wider Opportunities scheme.

In addition to the Academy ensembles, four area jazz orchestras meet throughout the year.

It seems to us that Lincolnshire have made a really promising start to embedding jazz in their overall music education provision.

West Lothian, the fastest growing area in Scotland, have a proportionately larger school population than their very large neighbour, Edinburgh, and, unsurprisingly draw upon some of the same jazz education resources. In common with most Scottish education authorities, West Lothian do not charge for instrumental tuition or for transport to the innumerable ensemble rehearsals and performances.

The music service has a partnership with the SNJO, which involves West Lothian’s two jazz ensembles. Over the year seven workshops took place with members of the SNJO. 52 pupils participated together with six of the instrumental music staff, for whom involvement was part of their CPD. The staff received packs of the whole syllabus prior to the course starting. Their observations and inter-action with the pupils and SNJO tutors enabled them to develop their own knowledge and jazz education skills. The skills thus gained will equip them to lead their own workshops and, importantly, to ensure that there is progression on the pupils’ part between the workshops and beyond. Those same pupils also attended several of Tommy Smith’s concerts with the Scottish National Youth Jazz Orchestra at the Glasgow City Halls.

Cathie Rae’s Thick Skinned Productions, which comprise some of the most respected Scottish jazz musicians, have introduced jazz and improvisation to pupils via workshops and concerts. They also delivered INSET on improvisation to instrumental music staff.

The West Lothian Schools Big Band (34 members) and Little Big Band (18 members) meet weekly on a weekday evening for two hours. Three secondary schools have jazz ensembles which also meet weekly. And students are encouraged to include performances of jazz pieces in their practical programmes which are recorded for assessment purposes within the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

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