LEA Awards 2010 title

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


The Jazz Services’ Will Michael Diplomas 2009/10


These Diplomas are awarded annually by Jazz Services in association with the NMC/MEC Local Authority Music Education 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.

There is no disguising our disappointment at the very low participation rate (7) this year in contrast to last year’s highest ever number (17) of submissions from LEA music services seeking national recognition of their commitment to jazz education. This downturn is a consequence of the lowest ever number (15) of submissions to the overall NMC scheme. Foremost among the reasons is staffing reductions made during the year by many music services, coupled with growing anxiety about the immediate future in the light of reduced local government funding. If specific funding of Music Services can be preserved – and the new Education Secretary has been making encouraging noises about the value of music education – the future may not be that bleak. So we soldier on!

On behalf of myself and my colleagues on the Jazz Services Awards Panel (Dr Catherine Tackley and Andrea Vicari) 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.

Our report is set below.

Ivor Widdison
Chair, JSL Awards Panel

Honourable Mentions


Aberdeen's Music Service maintains Authority-wide jazz groups at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. The groups also performed at a recognised jazz performance venue. Performance was also a feature of the weekly workshops held by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland (NYJOS), which involved 45 pupils, four of whom have become members of NYJOS. Several members of the instrumental staff, who had a particular interest in jazz, gained related qualifications from St Andrew’s University. We were pleased to learn that the CPD of all Music Service staff included attendance at workshops run by NYJOS tutors. 

As well as seeing and hearing live jazz at the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, pupils participated in Festival masterclasses and workshops.

The prestigious City Music School, a specialist music school drawing pupils from all over Scotland, included a strong jazz element in its programme.


East Renfrewshire’s immediate neighbour (and very big brother!) is Glasgow. The newly-formed Glasgow Schools Big Band had a successful first year. Weekly rehearsals facilitated development of improvisation skills as well, of course, as the wide-ranging big band repertoire. A number of schools throughout the Education Service have big bands that also meet weekly. We hope the Education Service’s investment in a major improvisation project aimed at enhancing young musicians creativity and performance skills will lead to a growth in confidence and readiness to engage with jazz. The Paragon Ensemble project, which involved 50 yong musicians, was not genre specific, but its main elements were central to effective jazz performance. It will be interesting to see whether the evaluation of the project fulfilled expectations.

We noted that Glasgow are one of the very few Scottish education authorities to have retained their free tuition policy.


There was a veritable explosion of big band activity in Oxfordshire. Holding weekly rehearsals were the Senior Schools Big Bands I & II, the County Youth Big Band and the County Youth Jazz Combo, those aggregations involving 65 students; and three school big bands and four area music school big bands. The prize-winning Jazz Combo performed at one of Oxford’s recognised jazz clubs.

Every County Big Band concert played at the Centre for Music is now recorded and used by students for A level and GCSE requirements.



The City’s similarly sized, in population terms, but very rural neighbour, Aberdeenshire caught our attention with the extent to which jazz was one of the main features of whole class instrumental and vocal provision by the Music Service. We welcomed too the priority given by the jazz programme to visits to the Authority’s four special schools. The same jazz programme, lead by those exceptionally well qualified jazz educators, Richard Ingham and Richard Michael, was highlighted in the Authority’s main NMC submission. In the secondary schools Richard Michael showed pupils how to create, record and use their own backing tracks; and in the primary schools he demonstrated how he worked as a professional composer leading to the pupils themselves composing a bespoke song, with assistance and direction, then recording and posting the result on to iTunes. That initiative proved to be a very popular part of the programme.

CPD for Music Service staff was a high priority within the same jazz programme.

Authority-wide performance opportunities are perforce rare in such a very rural area, so there are only two such ensembles  – the Saxophone Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble. Nonetheless, the high quality of their  music was reflected in appearances at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.

The rigour of the approach to quality assurance was evidenced by the practice of including three-way evaluations – by tutors, of programme and tutors by schools, and by pupils – for every school visited by the programme.

And finally we note that in recent years four original jazz commissions have been completed and performed by the two Authority-wide ensembles.

East Renfrewshire

East Renfrewshire are an exceptionally small education authority, with an overall population of 89000. The Music Service runs two big bands, one of which was a recent past winner of the schools competition at the Glasgow International Jazz Festival. The bands rehearse weekly and are very much in demand especially for fund-raising events in the wider community, which hardly fits the stereotypical view of jazz’s appeal to the general public.

 Improvisation is introduced at an early stage in the lessons, for which Music Service staff are prepared by the dedication of three INSET days led by Richard Ingram and annual improvisation workshops in the Primary Music Residential Course. The upshot of that approach, which of course we applaud, is pupils often decide that jazz is the genre on which they wish to concentrate, leading eventually to queues to join the big bands!

Opportunities for pupils and students to see and hear live jazz in Glasgow and Edinburgh venues are made available. And very unusually, the Music Service is planning to develop a jazz club locally!


The Lincolnshire Youth Jazz & Rock Academy (JARA) continued to provide 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 includes several contemporary professional jazz musicians who also deliver workshops across the county.

Curriculum development training to facilitate the teaching of jazz in the Wider Opportunities scheme continued to be developed by Lincolnshire Music Service (LMS) staff. As a direct consequence, pupils who had thus gained instrumental skills were enabled to play alongside the JARA Jazz Orchestra in a specially commissioned work ”LOL” and, moreover, to include their own compositions within designated sections of the main work.

Four area jazz orchestras met throughout the academic year.

Within the INSET and CPD structure generally, the contemporary strand for non-specialist teachers to develop a measure of jazz education expertise was maintained.

The Youth Jazz & Rock Academy live recordings were again used for students GCSE and A level assessment. And students’ arrangements and compositions continued to be  showcased in performance.

Diploma of Special Merit


The Devon Youth Jazz Orchestras continued to perform in the 30 plus Local Learning Communities as a standard part of their season programme. Interest in live jazz is thus stimulated and exploited  in those schools where DYJOs I & II work in partnership with schools’ own jazz ensembles.

Last year we reported that there were plans to trial a DYJO III to bridge the gap between young musicians experience of improvisation and jazz at school and that of DYJOs I & II. In the event a DYJO III was successfully launched in the year.

DYJO 1 at the Montreux Jazz Festival July 2010

The conductors of the two senior Jazz Orchestras undertook the National Youth Jazz Collective’s (NYJC) intensive CDP course under Pete Churchill. The NYJC also delivered arrangement and composition training at a DYJO residential course. And following specialist mentoring by Issie Barratt of the NYJC, three new scores by students were performed, one at the Teignmouth Jazz  Festival and one by DYJO I at the Montreux International Jazz Festival, where they gave two performances followed by a concert in Geneva.

The “Jazz Explosion Project” continued with workshops arranged for Key Stage 2 pupils in Tavistock and Dartmouth. Customised teaching materials and lesson plans were published online in advance. Opportunites were also given to pupils to take part in workshops and public performances with one of the DYJOs.

The Devon Jazz Ambassadors Programme was expanded by the creation of a second ensemble, which enabled more schools to be visited. Thus Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2 workshops were led in eight schools, including one special school. The Ambassadors were given special training prior to the special school visit.

A collaborative performance project was established with Exeter College  with a view to supporting foundation degree students with their jazz ensemble programme and to building further links with a wider range of young musicians in the county.


We pay tribute to all the above-mentioned authorities for their commitment to music education and jazz in particular. We are pleased to award Diplomas to Aberdeenshire, East Renfrewshire  and Lincolnshire; and for the second year running, a Diploma of Special Merit to Devon.

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