These Diplomas are awarded annually by Jazz Services in association with the National Music Council Music Education Awards Scheme, which has been running for over forty years. They matter because they do two things. They are the only means of according national recognition to those Hubs, music services and schools which demonstrate an outstanding commitment to jazz education. And secondly, they matter because they give national recognition to those field practitioners who are actually delivering jazz education and especially those who are helping to combat the widespread jazz phobia among classroom music teachers and instrumental tutors.
The Diploma is named in honour of Will Michael who, until his death in 2008, 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. In presenting the Awards, Leslie East, the Chief Executive of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music paid tribute to Will and to his contribution to the development of the Board’s Jazz Piano Syllabus.
So far as England is concerned, this is the first time the Awards are made in the name of Hubs. The National Plan for Music Education in England came into force in September 2012 and the large majority of music services became music education hubs; in some cases this meant a merging with several close neighbours and a loosening of the tie with the local authority. Preparations for these changes represented large scale organisational turbulence which, in some measure, continued into the year in question.
In the light of what we understand to be the most pressing needs of schools, we shall review our Awards criteria for next year with a view to giving greater emphasis to the importance of Hubs and Music Services providing jazz teaching resources for use in the classroom and specifically encouraging the development of improvisation skills. The National Music Curriculum to be introduced in England next September demands no less. But irrespective of that, we believe improvisation to be a vital part of any self-respecting musical education.
To conclude this introduction, my esteemed colleagues on the Jazz Services Awards Panel (Dr Catherine Tackley, Andrea Vicari and Bill Martin) and I, on behalf of Jazz Services would like to thank:
- all those colleagues most of whom, above and beyond the call of duty, are spreading the jazz gospel nationwide;
- the National Music Council, of course!; and
- the Royal Academy of Music for their generosity in once again hosting the Awards’ presentations.
Chair, Jazz Services’ Education Panel
View the 2013 report...