The Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra is pleased to perform for School or College Workshops. This may take several forms.

1) Concert

Sometimes a performance by a well established youth jazz orchestra such as MYJO may be a stimulus to form a school big band, or to encourage the existing school band to broaden its repertoire, encourage solo playing, and increase its ensemble skills. We have performed a number of concerts where the majority of the audience is school pupils. In this case we can use the programme as a way of explaining the composition of the band, how it works, how solos are played and so on. If the school band is well established, we are more than happy to share a concert. This acts as an encouragement to the school band, and to us as well!

2) Workshop

a) with established School Band. John Ruddick, the musical director of MYJO, has undertaken many workshop/rehearsals with existing school bands. This can bring new ideas to the band and encourage new ways of approaching the music, or alternatively, as is often the case, reinforce the ideas of the school band’s musical director, giving back-up support and encouragement. The music performed may be from the school’s repertoire, or may be imported by MYJO, as required. The rehearsal may lead to a concert, or may be part of a long term approach to improving the band’s performance.

b) with relative beginners. If a school/college is thinking of introducing or extending improvisation in its programme, and would like help in setting out some ideas on improvisation and/or ensemble playing, we would be pleased to help. The workshop can be of any length, but obviously, a more extended period allows some development. Any length from a couple of school periods to a couple of days can be very useful.

Ideally, students should bring their own instruments, but sometimes, if this is not possible, a straightforward talk, followed by a question and answer session can be quite rewarding. The session would normally introduce a ‘live’ quartet or quintet, which can demonstrate the ideas being put forward, and can hold the group together during performance, offering practical help.

A general talk would normally cover some or all of the following areas.

  • Brief introduction to history of jazz
  • Development of improvisation
  • Development of ensemble playing
  • ‘Hot’ jazz and ‘cool’ jazz
  • Styles of playing – development of jazz reading skills
  • Introduction to chord types/chord symbols/ use of scales
  • Use of chord groups
  • Construction of solos

A series of handouts can be made available, both for the day and for reference afterwards. In all of these cases, the emphasis is on enjoying music, and of developing new musical skills. For more advanced players, the last three parts of the talk might be most appropriate. It has been the experience in MYJO that learning to improvise develops self assurance and confidence, and this confidence can be brought into the traditional musical arena. We are quite happy to conduct workshops with any instrumentation, and (within reason) any size of group. We would only ask we are given advance notice of the composition of such groups, so that we can plan ahead for the session.

To discuss your education project, please contact John Ruddick on 01675 442050.