LEA Awards 2012 title


The Jazz Services’ Will Michael Jazz Education Diplomas 2011/12



Little surprise that jazz ensembles thrive in Oxfordshire: the Music Service has a jazz performance programme which involves three big bands, two small jazz ensembles and is further enhanced by jazz groups from secondary schools and the five Saturday music centres. Additionally over 50 developing jazz students attend the big band programme on weekday nights. The programme is open to all 11-19s of grade five plus levels to play in one of two bands. One of these is known as the Jazz Collective and has performed publicly with the Oxfordshire County Youth Big Band (OCYBB).

This submission includes a long list of jazz group meetings and workshops from big band to small ensembles. Improvisation groups are being developed to facilitate progression into the County Big Band. Every OCYBB concert is recorded and used by students for A level and GCSE music requirements. The OCYBB undertook a substantial number of public performances in the year.

The music service’s Student Asssessment System and First Access Programmes both include improvisation as an important area of development. Consequently, all those students are now experiencing improvisation as a regular part of their lessons. There is now a clear progression in development of improvisation from First Access to the Student Assessment System, to local school bands, to local music centre membership, to county big bands and to the Jazz Collective.

And finally we are pleased to note that as a further earnest of the Music Services commitment to jazz they are now in partnership with the Oxford Jazz Festival.


SoundStorm came to be the music service for Bournemouth & Poole with an already established jazz tradition having set up the Safehouse Improvisation Collective and the Bournemouth Modern Jazz Club. The Collective continues to meet regularly at the Lighthouse Arts Centre with an open-door policy of allowing all-comers to participate in completely improvised music sessions, free of charge.

SoundStorm fund education outreach programmes which give young people workshop and masterclass experiences in their schools with nationally known jazz musicians and in some instances opportunity to perform on stage with the stars! This workshop programme is to be continued in 2012/13 and big-name workshop leaders have already been signed-up. In the context of CPD some of these workshop leaders have introduced classroom teachers to the virtues of employing jazz related techniques in the classroom.

We are pleased to learn that SoundStorm are committed to a new ensembles policy which will produce two new jazz ensembles, a starter and intermediate ensemble which with existing school ensembles will feed into the Dorset Youth Jazz Orchestra – a good example of the value of cross-border cooperation.

The Mbawale Township Choir project, featuring a 200 strong choir drawn from Bournemouth and Poole, was the flagship event of the year. It is idle to try to separate this joyous manifestation of Township music from jazz. Valuable seeds will have been sown by the experience.

SoundStorm played a major role in the planning and funding of two important commissions. One, involving John Surman, was “Coastal Voices”, the flagship Cultural Olympiad piece for the Jurassic Coast. And the other, a major improvised work in the form of a 45 minute suite by Karen Wimhurst reflecting on the demise of the Soviet Union which will give young people the opportunity to play and sing unusual and challenging jazz and improvised sections along with professional musicians in an audio-visual premiere in Bournemouth.

There is still much to do here, but we are really heartened by the progress made so far.


Southampton Music Service provided jazz education workshops in schools with improvisation and composition as integral parts. Some of those session outcomes were incorporated in an hour-long large scale piece by the Director of the Southampton Youth Jazz Orchestra (SYJO), Daniel Mar-Molinero – a cornucopia of rhythms, grooves and melodies from Africa to Asia and back to Southampton. The public performance was underpinned by SYJO and featured Soweto Kinch . Small groups drawn from the workshops joined the performance for different parts and indeed introduced new improvisatory elements. Over 100 young musicians were involved from a range of schools in delivering two performances – one before the general public and City Council members and the other before over 1200 school pupils and students, many of whom had never heard jazz before. As a result, interest in jazz has burgeoned with many students now playing jazz in instrumental lessons delivered by the music service.

Close collaborations with

  • the University of Southampton, facilitated the provision of CPD by expert tutors; and
  • with the Turner Sims Concert Hall provided invaluable performace opportunities, master classes and high quality live jazz experiences for pupils and students.

Southampton has two flagship ensembles – SYJO and the Southampton Jazz Workshop (SJW). The latter is open to beginners and has close links with local schools. In that connection the SJW have devloped teaching resources for classroom music teachers and instrumental tutors. SYJO is one of the best Youth Jazz Orchestras in the country and with 60 per cent of leavers going on to conservatoires is an effective stepping stone to the music profession. Student composition is encouraged by both ensembles, indeed their sets invariably incorporate examples of such.


Southwark Music Service could almost certainly have made a stronger case for national recognition of their jazz education provision than appears in their submission. For example:

  • five members of the music service staff are active on the London jazz scene;
  • jazz is used extensively as a learning tool;
  • both Saturday music centres use jazz examinations as well as the traditional instrumental exams;
  • the vocal Wider Opportunities programme features jazz techniques, such as scat singing; and
  • some members of the Southwark Youth Orchestra decided to perform as a jazz ensemble, encouraged, but not directed, by music service staff.  

Some fleshing out of those examples would have been very welcome!

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