Bolton continued to employ a jazz specialist tutor. He directed the junior and senior jazz orchestras at weekly rehearsals and at five concerts in the year. He also directed two weekly ensembles in two different high schools. The music service provided jazz technique notes for all woodwind and brass teachers along with their schemes of work. Provision was made in schools as part of the music curriculum for pupils to hear live jazz and to study recordings.
We make no apology for drawing attention once again to how very small (school population 16,000) the East Renfrewshire education authority is. Nonetheless, jazz education abounds, helped no doubt first by the fact that the Instrumental Music Service (IMS) has held on to the four instrumental tutors who obtained Advanced Diplomas in Jazz from St Andrews University and secondly by the influence of the Richards, Ingham and Michael whose contribution to the development of jazz education in Scottish schools has been massive.
The IMS commitment to CPD and INSET is further evidenced by its support for the long-serving director of the jazz big band in taking the Graduate Diploma in Jazz at St Andrews. His learning to that end is already cascading down among all IMS staff.
A large proportion of the IMS staff use technology in all of their lessons and can provide backing tracks using I-pads, laptops, or MP3 players; online access to one of the Real Books is also utilised by the staff for lesson use and by the band directors for the jazz ensembles which continue to meet weekly at the Saturday Music Centre. Those bands involve students from seven secondary schools and many pupils from primary schools. The main bands are in constant demand for civic and public performances in a variety of settings.
The Jazz Combo, with its emphasis on improvisation, which we highlighted in our report last year, has continued to flourish; indeed its recordings have been broadcast on local radio. This sort of progressive development is to be expected when residential weekends are provided with opportunities for intensive improvisation practise and chart execution polishing! Improvisation workshops are also a feature of the five-day primary music residential course provided by the IMS and involving at least 100 pupils. One invariable outcome of that is a flood of applications to join the junior big band. Interestingly, it emerged that far and away the best improvisers this year were the string players! That must be a first!
Glasgow, to their credit, maintained their free tuition policy, one of the few Scottish authorities to do this; and of course it is a long time since music service provision was free in England! For the fourth year running, the Education Service and the Glasgow International Jazz Festival have worked in partnership to take Brass Jaw on a tour of City schools. This year 400 pupils and students were engaged in concerts and workshops involving that wonderful ensemble . The value of effective partnerships was evidenced by the success of the City Council, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Life, the Intenational Jazz Festival and private donors in raising funds to enable the Glasgow Jazz Summer School to happen. The tutorial team comprised experienced jazz musicians and educators and was open to all aged 15 plus. All classes, which include theory, ear training and ensemble playing, are held in the City Halls and participants can attend selected performances at the Jazz Festival free of charge.
Lincolnshire’s support for their Youth Jazz & Rock Academy is undiminished . Over six days 14-19 year-olds come together to form four ensembles including a jazz orchestra. The horns from that orchestra also make up horn sections as required for funk/fusion, r&b and contemporary rock groups. Ex-academy students continue to return from their music conservatoires and act as peer mentors.
Academy participants are introduced to the business side of music performance by virtue of a social marketing platform which allows members to earn points by recruiting friends and posting Myspace adverts for Academy events and sponsoring links. The sponsors donate prizes and in return receive internet advertising. Already there have been positive responses from sponsors.
The music service in Manchester is now “One Education Music”. The creation half-way through the year of a well qualified jazz development team to work closely with music service staff and high school music departments has already raised the profile of jazz and created more opportunities for jazz performance in Manchester schools. Indeed a group of students from one high school won the Yamaha Jazz Experience competition in 2012. Whole music staff CPD was undertaken in January and a future CPD programme is under discussion with the Director of the National Youth Jazz Collective (NYJC). Similarly effective joint working is happening with the recently established Northern School of Jazz (NSJ)and the Yamaha Jazz Experience. Indeed a memorandum of understanding is being drawn up between the music service, the NSJ and the NYJC with view to creating progressive pathways between those organisation and generally to support each others work.
School jazz ensembles are supported by music service staff. Students have opportunity to experience live jazz through annual jazz workshops, supported by the Manchester Jazz Festival, ie the Festival provides artists to work with students. The jazz development team is looking to establish regular youth jam sessions at the City’s premier jazz club.
The music service held a Showcase Week at the Royal Northern College Music and one student jazz ensemble performed each night. A member of the jazz development team was commissioned to compose a large scale work for the Week. The resultant piece, “Generations” was performed by over 70 pupils and students and featured guest trumpeter Neil Yates. The work had carefully differentiated parts to accommodate 40 Wider Opportunities trumpet players alongside the experienced Manchester Youth Stage Band. Students of all abilities took improvised solos leading up to Neil Yates’ solo.
These are encouraging developments which promise even bigger and better things to come in Manchester!