BYMT Jazz School Spring 2021 Lockdown project
BYMT Jazz School students performing with tutors at Eltham Jazz Club
BYMT JAZZ SCHOOL
at Bromley Youth Music Trust
(aka Bromley Music Hub)
A fun, inspiring, inclusive, weekly ensemble for primary and secondary aged school children (minimum grade 3 standard) on ANY instrument from any borough.
A practical approach of learning through playing and exploring jazz repertoire helps students to gain confidence and develop core musicianship skills including improvising, ear training, rhythmic skills, composition, harmonic understanding and essential theory.
Our award-winning jazz school provides highly qualified and experienced teachers who are also leading practitioners in the field.
Jazz School Current Repertoire
History of BYMT Jazz School
In January 2017 Lora Dimitrova (Head of Keyboard Dept) asked me to help her set up a new Jazz School at BYMT (Bromley Youth Music Trust), one of the UK's largest music hubs. I started running some regular improvisation classes for the children who were playing in the various bands and orchestras at the music centre and with her relentless energy and efforts it quickly grew into two ensembles meeting every week. We took on an additional tutor, Joe Boyle - jazz graduate from Middlesex University specialising in bass and guitar and in November 2017 we won the prestigious Will Michael Award and honorary diploma for Jazz Education. A national award recognising “outstanding commitment to jazz education” and “acknowledging the work of those field practitioners who are actually delivering jazz education and in many cases helping to combat the widespread jazz phobia among classroom music teachers and instrumental tutors.”
In the spring of 2018 we ran our first (now annual) "Jazz Day" with an afternoon of masterclasses and evening performance featuring ARQ (The Alison Rayner Quintet) who won the Parliamentary Award for "Best UK Jazz Ensemble 2018". It was a great success and included over 40 children learning to improvise and performing on stage alongside the band.
In the autumn of 2018 we started an outreach programme with me visiting various local primary and secondary schools and offering "An Introduction to Improvising" workshops to all instrumentalists. I also published another interactive digital book (available worldwide on Apple iBooks Store) which includes all of the material from these workshops, enabling any music teacher to use the same material and methods to teach improvisation in their lessons. I also started a series of Jazz Appreciation lectures aimed at musicians and non-musicians where we study some seminal recordings by some of the great jazz artists that have proved to be pivotal works in the overall development and evolution of jazz. We put them in to context by looking at the developments in the artists career leading up to the recordings and also analyse the music and what made it so ground breaking.
From January 2019 we expanded further and began running our two jazz improvisation groups on a weekly basis every Thursday night. We also welcomed to our teaching roster one of the UK's finest jazz saxophonists and a highly experienced and dedicated educator Steve Buckley (a founder member of the multiple award winning UK jazz super group Loose Tubes). I started some CPD sessions at BYMT for any music teachers who want to introduce improvisation in to their lessons and share some of my techniques and concepts that I have developed over the years and published in my series of Apple iBooks "How To Learn To Improvise".
In the summer of 2019 we finished up the year with another highly successful Jazz Day with many students taking part in an afternoon open workshop and evening concert, to a packed concert hall.
In November 2019 both of our student groups performed at The Royal Festival Hall as part of the
EFG London Jazz Festival.
With some great events lined up for 2020 the pandemic hit and we were forced to cancel all of them, but we moved to online lessons and keep the school going. In the Spring of 2021 we created our Charles Mingus Lockdown project and video (which you can watch below) and with socially distanced rehearsals resuming in the summer we were all pleased to play together again. The autumn term saw a fresh new intake of students and the children performed live again at the Christmas concert.
Having secured some recovery funding, our plans for 2022 featured a new outreach program to local schools, introducing children to jazz and improvising, whilst also recruiting for the school. We were able to resume our annual jazz day in the Spring, with over 30 children partaking in the afternoon workshop and joining our tutors and regular students in the evening concert. We are planning more performance opportunities for the students outside of the music centre throughout the year.