LEA Awards 2009 title

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


The Jazz Services’ Will Michael Diploma 2008/09


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 Jazz Services Awards Panel looks for evidence of commitment to jazz education within LEA and music service provision for schools, community education and adult continuing education.

The Diploma is named in honour of Will Michael who, until his death in 2008, 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.

First, the positives: highest ever number (17) of submissions from LEA music services seeking national recognition of their commitment to jazz education. And there is evidence of an improvement in the scope and quality of provision in some parts of the country. Yet, we suspect that for want of time/and or care to make connections some of the submissions we had before us failed to do justice to what is actually delivered. For example some of the main NMC/MEC award submissions referred to workshops and collaborations which given the practitioners responsible could not help but be jazz orientated. And then there were those submissions which simply provided insufficient information to enable us to make a proper assessment.

But I must not be too critical. Jazz education in the maintained sector is but a vulnerable little toddler who needs tender care and lots of encouragement, which is this scheme’s raison d’etre!

And finally on behalf of myself and my colleagues on the Jazz Services Awards Panel (Jennie Parke Matheson, Dr Catherine Tackley and Andrea Vicari) and the NMC/MEC Awards Panel, we would like to thank:

  • all those colleagues most of whom, above and beyond the call of duty, are spreading the jazz gospel nationwide;
  • the Federation of Music Services and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, without whose active support this scheme wouldn’t happen.

Whilst not, this year, receiving an award we would like to acknowledge the creditable work undertaken by or in association with the following LEA music services: Barking & Dagenham, Blackpool, Enfield, Glasgow, Havering, Kingston upon Hull, Manchester, Oxfordshire, Portsmouth and Tower Hamlets.

Ivor Widdison
Chair, JSL Awards Panel

Diplomas of Merit

In Bolton jazz education clearly benefited from the lead provided by a qualified (jazz degree) professional jazz musician; from attendance by music service staff at jazz INSET sessions; the maintenance of three authority-wide jazz ensembles, which met weekly; and brass teachers incorporating jazz improvisation into weekly group training sessions in schools.

It was good to read that two of the jazz orchestras performed at four music and arts festivals promoted by the Authority at different times of the year. We noted too that student performance of jazz pieces was scheduled for assessment purposes; and that original jazz works were commissioned for joint performance by the Bolton Youth Jazz Orchestra and Youth Choirs. There is more, we feel, to come from Bolton, but in the meantime we are pleased to be able to acknowledge what is being delivered so far.

The Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra prides itself on high quality and innovative work. We especially liked the fact that it was part of a structured approach to developing expertise in jazz. That starts with Gloucestershire’s Music Jazz Live, a weekly jazz centre. We also welcomed the provision made for good amateur musicians to rehearse and perform with the Colwell Arts Jazz Ensemble, which is part of the Authority’s adult programme.

This is a reasonably well staffed and qualified Music Service which provides regular support for improvisation in general and jazz improvisation in particular both for Music Service teachers and primary and secondary school music teachers. In addition to the comprehensive range of weekly activities at Jazz Live there are jazz ensembles at the three regional music centres. A number of maintained and independent secondary schools also provide opportunities to play jazz. And several jazz orientated teachers work in the Authority’s primary schools.

The Lincolnshire Youth Jazz & Rock Academy provides for young people in the age range 14-19 to come together over six rehearsal days to form four ensembles – a jazz orchestra, a funk/fusion group, an r&b group and a contemporary rock group. All trumpets, trombones and saxophone players play primarily in the jazz orchestra and then make up horn sections as required for the other groups. Peer mentors between 18-21, currently attending music conservatoires across the country, create a valuable link with higher education standards and practice. Academy tutorial staff include several contemporary professional jazz musicians who also deliver workshops across the county.

Four area jazz orchestras meet throughout the academic year. Practical curriculum guidance with specific reference to development in the context of the Wider Opportunities scheme was delivered. And within the INSET and CPD structure generally a contemporary strand has been developed for non-specialist teachers to develop a measure of jazz education expertise.

The Youth Jazz & Rock Academy live recordings are used annually for students GCSE and A level assessment. And students’ arrangements and compositions are showcased.

Redbridge Music Service employs three professional jazz musicians and some members of staff are ex-NYJO players. Staff have been provided with training in improvisation and as part of their own professional development are made aware of Grand Union workshops and concerts; CPD was also provided by the Music Service and Trinity Guildhall. We were impressed to learn that improvisation and creativity using jazz styles are at the heart of Redbridge’s Wider Opportunities Programme; and original jazz pieces written by Music Service staff are showcased around the Authority as part of the Programme. The Redbridge Jazz Orchestra rehearses 14 times a year and gives five performances annually; it also regularly plays for a range of civic and charity events including the Mayor’s reception and dinner. At least two secondary schools have jazz bands which meet weekly and are supported by Music Service staff.

Associated Board and Trinity Guildhall jazz syllabuses are used by Music Service staff for their examination pupils. The Service’s comprehensive music technology facilities are utilized for jazz compositions and arrangements. All major concerts are recorded for assessment purposes and each concert evaluated in order to maintain high standards.

It seems to us that well established joint working with the Grand Union Orchestra and individual members of this star studded aggregation effectively guarantees a vital, inclusive approach to music making for all the pupils and students from Redbridge and other authorities. And thanks to YouTube we can all see examples of that.

Diploma of Special Merit

The two Devon Youth Jazz Orchestras perform in the 30 plus Local Learning Communities (these are groupings of schools throughout the LEA) as a standard part of their annual programme. The aim here is to inspire other young people and to cascade skills. To that end the Orchestras work in partnership with schools and especially those with jazz ensembles. A gap in provision for the pre-DYJO 2 has been identified. Accordingly, it is planned to trial a DYJO 3 with a view to catering for those players for whom swing/jazz phrasing, notation and improvisation require development. The presumption is that they will progress through to the more advanced ensembles. It is indicative of the DYJO standards that a high proportion of the members go on to study music in higher education and that DYJO 1 has been invited to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 2010.

All three DYJO tutors play professionally in jazz and big band idioms.

The “Jazz Explosion Project” project, which in the year targeted clusters of primary schools in rurally isolated areas, concentrated on the blues. It is designed to be accessible to a wide range of Key Stage 2 learners including those who have been introduced to playing a musical instrument through the Wider Opportunities Programme. Online resources, which are differentiated according to ability, are central to these activities.

A small band course is now well established with players taking a series of graded improvising sessions. General and specific schemes of work are prepared by the conductors of each ensemble. Progression of the groups is monitored and evaluated and peer review is encouraged amongst ensemble leaders. At a more advanced level, several members of DYJO participated in the National Youth Jazz Collective’s first year in Devon. The weekend sessions had a specific focus of improvisation in the small band context and as such complemented the players’ work with DYJO which of course concentrates rather more on large ensemble skills. The emphasis on gifted and talented young musicians has the potential to be further sustained by virtue of a collaboration with the Goverment supported Centre for Advanced Training, known as the South West Music School , which provides for exceptionally talented musicians between 8-18 years of age.

DYJO continued to play commissioned, original works by internationally recognised and local jazz composers. And we were pleased to see that the DYJOs also continued to be used as vehicles for students to develop arrangement and composition techniques.

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