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JAZZ EDUCATION In 2008 NYJC was delighted

to welcome its new president, jazz luminary, Dave Holland who, along with NYJC’s four vice-presidents (jazz pianist Julian Joseph, broadcaster Helen Mayhew, jazz journalist John Fordham and MP Michael Connarty) continues to support and endorse the collective’s work. NYJC has also established the Young Ambassadors scheme, which trains up to 12 jazz graduates a year to become our next generation of jazz educators.

National Youth Jazz Collective

An introduction to a new national organisation which is already increasing access to jazz and improvisation for young people

support young jazz musicians within small-group jazz improvisation. Established in 2006 by acclaimed jazz composer and educator, Issie Barratt, the collective is now an integral part of Youth Music’s NYMO ‘family of eight’ (which also includes the National Youth Orchestra, South Asian Music Youth Orchestra and Youth Music Theatre UK). It provides high-quality jazz training and performance opportunities for young jazz musicians aged 8-18, supporting all abilities from complete beginners to young professionals. It achieves this through a coherent pathway of its regional jazz activity. This is delivered via 22 regional hub partnerships, and its national activities, including a summer school which caters each year for 30 of the country’s most talented young jazz musicians. On a national level, the collective is able to provide the very best musical and educational experiences, with 90 per cent of its summer school participants going on to study jazz at conservatoire level.


he National Youth Jazz Collective is a new and vibrant National Youth Music Organisation (NYMO) designed to

At a regional level, NYJC works

hard to make activities open to all, and prides itself in the support it gives to promising individuals, their teachers and music leaders, frequently running regional professional development series to support the latter in their work. ‘Many talented and inspirational music teachers still feel uncomfortable about including aspects of improvisation in their teaching,’ says the collective’s founder and executive artistic director, Issie Barratt. ‘Our aim is to demonstrate good practice in the teaching of jazz, while simultaneously demystifying the musical process, often helping non-jazz specific music leaders find ways in which they can draw on their own musical skills to support and develop the needs of the young jazz musician.’ Thanks to the support and

commitment of NYJC’s roster of 40 highly accomplished and inspiring tutors, the artistic and educational quality of the collective’s work is second to none. All are internationally recognised performers and highly respected educators, with many having contributed to the development of UK jazz education, including the jazz curriculums for the Associated Board and the jazz programmes at all the UK conservatoires.

Above: NYJC summer school, Norwich 2011

‘When I set up the jazz faculty at Trinity College of Music in 1999,’ says Issie, ‘I was struck by the apparent resourcefulness and independent- mindedness of many of the young jazz applicants. Most had played regularly in a school or music service big band but very few had had regular access to formal tuition in improvisation.’ This apparent lack of regular access

to regional jazz education was further confirmed by the findings of Youth Music’s research of 2005 and the collective’s past five years of summer school auditions, the outcome of which still shows certain regions doing poorly because of very little or no regional resourcing of jazz education. ‘Jazz is, by its very nature a music of the moment,’ says Issie, ‘relying on an ensemble’s ability to generate a virtually unscripted spontaneous musical dialogue, un-phased by the presence of an audience or the immediacy of newly generated musical ideas. It is imperative therefore that all gifted young jazz musicians be given regular access to activities that focus primarily on that very means of music making. They need not only an appropriate musical curriculum and repertoire, but also a musical environment in which the participants can continue to practice regularly and hone those skills. It was the need for more access to this educational environment that inspired us to set up the National Youth Jazz Collective. Our focus was on establishing a national network of regional hubs, a programme of continuing professional development and our national initiatives. Thanks to five years of unfaltering support from so many regional and national organisations and from keen individuals we’ve begun to establish together a national infrastructure of jazz education that’s clearly here to stay.’

Our aim is to demonstrate good practice in the teaching of jazz

For more information on how to take part in NYJC’s activities or how to become a regional partner go to


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