Where did that year go?!

It’s been a whole year since Rachel Waters, our Extended Learning and Provisions Manager, joined Gloucestershire Music. Today we took some time to look back on the year and find out some new things about her! 

Q. So, Rachel, what does your job title really mean?

What a great question! Essentially, I oversee any of our activity that isn’t school-based; so ensembles, concerts, events etc.

Q. How has your first year in the job been?

Well it was certainly an interesting time to start a new job! My interview for the job was just a few weeks before the first lockdown so, by the time I started, we were in the full throws of the pandemic. I’ve been so grateful to have extremely supportive and welcoming colleagues who have showed me the ropes virtually (some of whom I’ve still never met in real life!) and everyone has done such a fantastic job of moving to online music-making provision.

Q. What do you do enjoy doing outside of GM?

Before I joined GM, I worked as a peripatetic music tutor in South Wales and a freelance cellist. My job with GM is part-time so I am still doing some teaching but the performing has sadly been extremely thin on the ground this year due to COVID. I have a few bookings in the diary coming up though so I am crossing everything that they’ll be able to go ahead! I also love to sing and can’t wait to get back singing with the BBC National Chorus of Wales which I’ve been a member of for 13 years.

Lockdown, however, has reignited my love for running. I’m not the world’s fastest runner by any means but I love getting out and finding new picturesque routes near my home in Monmouth and have joined a local running club this year. They’ve just been able to start again for the first time since December so it’s been great to run with other people again.

Q: So if you were stranded on a desert island, what two things would you want with you?

My cello and some way of listening to my Spotify library. Oh and lots of snacks!

Q: What were the last three things you bought?

Some running shorts, lots of goodies from our local zero-waste shop and a folding desk for our music room (I’ve been using a camping table to teach online for the past 14 months!)

Q. If you could play any other instrument, what would it be?

Oo that’s a good question. I love the cello but sometimes I wish I could play something a bit more portable like a guitar.

Q. What do you hope for your next year in the job?

Well I’m extremely excited to start some youth face-to-face rehearsals after half term and to get to actually meet our members in real life. However, I really hope that things will soon allow us to go back to our usual way of rehearsing and performing, I cannot wait for a proper concert to be allowed!

The Alexander Technique – a brief introduction for musicians

What would you say if I told you there was something you could learn to use – a technique, a tool, a set of ideas – which has the power to change and transform your musical performance?

Furthermore, what if that “something” had the power to transform your life for the better?

Sounds good, doesn’t it!

Let me introduce you to the Alexander Technique.

Alexander’s work has been around for a very long time – well over 100 years – and in that time has helped countless people from many walks of life. It is taught at all UK music conservatoires and major drama schools.

It all came about when an actor called Frederick Matthias Alexander developed a problem. He suffered from a most distressing loss of voice during performance. Acting was his profession and clearly very important to him and when medical treatment didn’t help, he decided there was no alternative but to try to solve the problem for himself.

After a great deal of work, experimentation and observation over a number of years, he not only solved his vocal problem, but also discovered a number of scientific truths about how human beings are designed to move in a co-ordinated way allowing the natural mechanisms of the body to function freely in the way in which they were intended. He discovered that we are designed to move in such a way that the head leads and the body follows, so what you do with the poise of your head in relation with your body as you move can make a profound difference to the movements you make. This was just the first step in a number of further discoveries.

As time went by and with more work and experimentation, Alexander realised that he had discovered principles that not only made a difference to his life, but that those principles had the potential to make a difference to other people’s lives as well. He realised that by engaging with his ideas, people could learn how to change, how to find a more efficient and effective use of themselves, together with more success and lasting improvement.

So how can we make use of these ideas and discoveries as musicians?

When we study musical performance, we work hard at improving technique so we can make a great sound, play or sing the notes accurately and well; we work on dynamics and phrasing, listening, playing in tune, playing fast, playing slowly – all of the things which we need to perform in our chosen style.

But there seems to be one big thing in our study which often seems to be ignored. It’s like the elephant in the room; it’s always there just as it was with Alexander himself when he started working out his ideas. It frequently holds us back and causes problems, frustration and discomfort or even pain, but rarely do we give any attention to it.

That one big thing is HOW. How we ‘use’ ourselves in the course of performance.

Rarely do we focus on how we lift our instruments in order to play. Rarely do we ask ourselves what we need to do or how we need to move in order to play. What do you need to do to lift your hands to the keyboard, or bring your guitar up to play? Where are you moving from? In the most simple terms, which muscles are involved and where are those muscles located?

Jenny teaching

The next time you play or sing, why not try what Alexander himself first tried? Take a bit of time to observe yourself as you move. Put some of your focus on yourself and how you are moving. Ask yourself the simple question; what movements are necessary to play my instrument? If you have to lift your instrument to play, where is movement taking place? Do you notice anything else happening as you raise your arms to give an upbeat. Singers and wind players can think about the simple natural process of taking a breath. Can you allow this to happen deeply and freely? These are really good, simple first questions to ask yourself to help you begin to build up more knowledge of yourself and how you move.

In an Alexander technique lesson, musicians are often surprised by how easily and freely they can move after working with a teacher. It’s not unusual to hear an improvement in sound quality as players discover they have more freedom to move with ease, or are able to breathe more deeply with less restriction. This is brought about by using a simple reasoning process and by developing the mental discipline necessary to not interfere with the movement. With the help of a teacher, you can begin to understand that just by making a different decision about how to move, and by not interfering with that movement, you can make lasting improvement and a very real difference to the way you perform, using just as much effort that is necessary and no more.

Just think for a moment, what would your playing be like, or even more importantly, what would your life be like if you only used just as much effort as was necessary and no more.

Alexander’s work can help you train your thinking to take advantage of the physiologic truths he discovered to bring about lasting improvement not only to your musical studies, but to the whole of your life, helping you fulfil your potential in anything you choose to do.

And that is what Alexander’s work is for. That’s the very reason why he developed his ideas; to allow nothing less than realising all of your potential.

Jenny Steele is a horn player, GM member of staff and certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.


Jenny horn


‘GM Presents’ a fantastic 4 day music extravaganza…

Last week no fewer than 500 performers converged on the Stroud Subscription Rooms to perform in our ‘GM Presents’ summer concerts.

The concerts kicked off on Thursday 28th June, with three of our adult groups, Lakeside Concert Band, Five Valleys Adult Wind Band and the Colwell Arts Jazz Ensemble.

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Our award winning Gloucestershire Jazz Live then took to the stage on Friday 29th June, accompanied by Song Lab and students from Katherine Lady Berkley School.

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Stroud’s local music club (Five Valley Music Centre) made an appearance on the morning of Saturday 30thJune, followed by the Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra in the evening.

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The four-day extravaganza was rounded off on Sunday 1st July when no less than eight performances took place:  Gloucestershire Intermediate String Ensemble, Youth String Orchestra, Youth Choir and the Forest of Dean Area Wind Band took to the stage at 3pm.  At 7:30pm the festival drew to a close with the Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra and Symphonic Wind Orchestra.  There was also be a guest solo spot from Katie Jenner (finalist in this year’s Gloucestershire Young Musicians Competition).

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Here’s some of the fantastic feedback that we’ve had from performers and parents:

“Many thanks for the concert, last night, which was hugely enjoyable, with excellent playing from the bands.”   Charlie Pearce (parent GYWO)

“……thanks for a very enjoyable concert yesterday – it is great to see how much Freddie has progressed since playing with GISE.”  Louise Turner (parent GISE)

“It was a great concert yesterday. The audience enjoyed it all so much. All the pieces were so good to listen to.” Tabitha Gilcrest (Parent GYO)

“Just wanted to say thank you for inviting me to come and play yesterday evening. It was lovely to come back and play with Glos Music and  GYWO again. The music at my school wasn’t the best, if it hadn’t of been for Glos music, GYWO and all the work you and the staff do I wouldn’t have done any where near as much music and then probably wouldn’t have chosen to study it! So very grateful to you all as I love what I do now!”  Katie Jenner (Undergraduate at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Music and ex GYWO player).

“Thank you Steve, Nicola and Jenny for the opportunity to play with other musicians at this fabulous celebration of music  as well as to listen to the next generation. It was inspirational. I can not believe there are many Counties offering such diversity of opportunity from the Learn as you  Play to the more experienced groups and across the complete age span.

The dedication of all GM staff was a result of months of hard work, preparation and delivery and teaches all participants practical and communicative skills that no other subject can. The  world is a much place when The Arts are appreciated. It goes without saying ‘Long May It Continue’.

Let summer begin, once all the clearing is behind you and thoughts about music for next year are buzzing in your head.

Thank you everyone. Enjoy your holiday.”   Mary Wren – member of LCB, CAO and GSWO

For more information on our youth and adult bands and orchestras visit our website


Harp recitals captivate Cheltenham primary students

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During the last week of May over 500 children from schools in Cheltenham were treated to some truly inspiring recitals by harpist Natasha Gale.

The recitals took place at Gardners Lane Primary School, Holy Apostles’ C of E Primary School, St Thomas More Catholic Primary School and Swindon Village Primary School.

All of the children were very excited to see, hear and learn about two different types of harp – the pedal harp and the Celtic lever harp. It was fantastic for the children to hear instruments that many had not heard before as Natasha explained how the harp makes a sound, and then played four fantastic pieces as part of the recital.

We heard traditional pieces and songs such as ‘Moon River’ and the theme from ‘Beauty and the beast’.

“It was a great experience for all, thank you so much Natasha!” Nick Steele, GM Schools Manager

#gloucestershiremusic, #natashagale, #celticleverharp, #pedalharp, #recitals, #gardnerslaneprimary, #holyapostlesprimary, #stthomasmorecatholicprimary, #swindonvillageprimary, #learningmusic

Looking back and more to come…

As another term comes to an end we look back on a packed and successful diary of rehearsals and gigs.  Here are just some of the highlights…

Adult bands perform at the Pittville Pump Room alongside cornet star Tom Hutchinson.
Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra perform at the Roses Theatre alongside the fantastic Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Pro Trombonist Chris Fower inspires Colwell Arts Jazz Ensemble and Colin Hales puts GSWO through their paces as part of our ‘working with the professionals’ series.
*BBC record our annual Rotary Concert featuring Gloucestershire Youth Choir, Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra and Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra.  Another sell out concert.  Keep an ear and an eye out on BBC Radio Gloucestershire for live recordings of the concert.
Music For Youth Regional Festival another success with packed audiences on Sunday 25th March.  Our massed music centre ensembles were a real highlight.
Our new Whole Class MFY schools day with no less than 16 primary schools performing at the Cheltenham Town Hall.
Gloucestershire Youth Choir learn to rap with 5 Mics.
The Forest of Dean Area Wind Band continues to grow welcoming new members and will be joined by Chris Gibbons as their new woodwind tutor in April.
Our student council meet for Donuts and Discussion and plan our events for 2018/19.  More details after Easter.
Colwell Arts Orchestra works alongside members of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Music.


What’s to come?

Adult Learn As You Play Launched
In April, our new adult LAYP ensembles will be launched at Five Valleys and Brookfield Music Centres.  Find out more here

Composers Corner
Composers get the chance to get creative and start composing for our new round of events and concerts in the new academic year. Find out more here

New sponsors secured for ‘GM Presents’
We are delighted to be working with a new set of sponsors who are helping us provide great performance opportunities for our ensembles and choirs.  Follow this link for more information and see poster above.

GM has secured significant funding to allow us to continue to provide some exciting events for all our members in 2018/19.  Over the next two weeks I will be issuing dates for the next academic year including a huge collaboration with the Cheltenham Trust.  More ‘GM Presents’ will be put in the diary featuring all of our ensembles.  The National Concert Band Festival and Music For Youth will return to Gloucestershire as will our annual Rotary Concert.  A new film music course and tour will also be announced.

Wishing you all a relaxing Easter and we look forward to seeing you all next term.

Steve Legge, Extended Learning & Provisions Manager,  Gloucestershire Music.

#pittvillepumprooms, #therosestheatre, #midlandyouthjazzorchestra, #bbcradiogloucestershire, #musicforyouth, #cheltenhamtownhall, #royalbirminghamconservatoireofmusic, #nationalconcertbandfestival, #musiccentres, #musicgroups, #gloucestershiremusic

Sound the trumpet…

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Wells Cathedral School recently played host to the “Music from the Movies” themed Trumpet Skills Days.  Attended by nearly 50 trumpetiers, made up from all over the West of England including 5 students from Gloucestershire Music.

It was certainly a fun filled and musically rewarding day led by some of the finest brass specialist and players in the country. The students were assigned a group for the day with their various tutors: Hannah Opstad, Ross Brown, Simon Jones and Robert Webb.

The whole day revolved around the concept of learning new ‘skills’ on the trumpet.  As Paul Denegri stated in his introduction its not just about learning new music and styles but embracing new skills in practicing/performing that students can continue to use in their musical learning.  With that said the first session started in their various groups, and this was all about warm-ups and warming up.  Focusing on the importance of this as a trumpet player and how skillful we can be in our preparations.  The groups then put these skills into practice as they continued rehearsing their chosen music from the movies ready for the concert in the magical atmosphere of the 14th century Quilter Hall later.

It was wonderful to see so many trumpet players, of all different ages and abilities simply enjoying making music together. The power of this even more evident when new friendships were formed based on their mutual love and appetite for music and the trumpet. Overhearing students chatting about their favourite pieces, who their favourite trumpet players are, what they have learnt so far and talking about how  they can use these ideas in their music was amazing.  Refreshingly encouraging to see so many children ‘networking’ new musical suggestions and proffer such enthusiasm.

“I was lucky enough to experience a trip to the amazing Wells Cathedral School for a trumpet masterclass with Mr Storer. I had lots of fun, making new friends and learning the Bare Necessities as well as practising how to clean and maintain trumpets. On top of this, all the tutors were excellent, kind, friendly and were a great help if you were stuck. it was a super day.” Angharad, age 9

the Trumpet Skills Day at Wells Cathedral school was fun and had a good range of activities that kept us engaged through the whole day. I personally enjoyed the natural trumpets we got to play towards the end of the afternoon. The tutors were nice and helped us improve our performances of the pieces that we were playing – in my case Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Book. I would happily go again next year….”  William, age 12

“I really enjoyed the trumpet skills day at Wells as the activities were interesting and engaging. We learnt about posture, breathing and how to warm up well. The staff were enthusiastic and helpful, teaching us in a fun way. We were playing music from the movies including Pirates of the Caribbean.  I particulary enjoyed playing the natural trumpets.”  Harry, age 12

The trumpet skills day is an excellent initiative by Paul Denegri and his specialist team of renowned brass tutors. It is a wonderful provision to consolidate all of the students musical learning. The trumpet skills day will once again take place next year on 20th January 2019…. book early!

Phil Storer

Gloucestershire pupils ‘finding the groove’…

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Over the last few months our GM tutors have been busy working hard in schools delivering all sorts of musical tuition.

Since September nearly 3000 children from around Gloucestershire have taken part in GM led workshops, small group peripatetic or WCET lessons on a mix of instruments from violin to trumpet. Our lessons cover the key areas of the curriculum and National Plan for Music Education (NPME) and are run by our enthusiastic team of highly skilled tutors in every quadrant of our County.

We offer WCET (Whole Class Ensemble Teaching) on a wide range of instruments covering pupils from Reception to Year 7.  As we’re halfway through this academic year most of our instrumental sets are now out in schools, however we do have availability for some instrumental sets for this Summer Term 2018.

We’re extremely proud to be taking some of these pupils to perform at this year’s ‘Music For Youth’ Regional Festival at Cheltenham Town Hall, where pupils from schools around the County will represent Gloucestershire as part of six massed instrumental groups. These groups will be made up of pupils who have received only 10 lessons on strings, woodwind, brass and ukulele.  More details will follow in the next edition about this fantastic new project!

This year has seen a large increase in GM led small group peripatetic teaching coming back to schools. We offer a full range of instrumental tuition from our quality assessed team with all of the administration handled by us at GM.

In early December international concert pianist Clare Hammond delighted pupils around Stroud playing a mix of exciting pieces and telling stories about the music and throughout November and December, due to high school demand, we saw lots of samba workshops happening all over the county with pupils from reception and above ‘finding the groove’ and learning to work as part of a team.

If you would like a musical activity in your school that we currently do not offer please let us know – we will do our best to offer it to you.

If you would like more information on availability of small group,  whole class tuition or day workshops please contact Nick Steel at nicholas.steel@gloucestershire.gov.uk


County Jazz Centre wins third consecutive Will Michael Jazz Award

Photo: Leslie East (Musician’s Company) and Peter Martin (GJL Director)

Our County Jazz Centre, Gloucestershire Jazz Live, continues to go from strength to strength with their talented youth and adult musicians picking up many awards and performing around the Country.  Here Peter Martin (GJL Director) looks back over another successful year…

Gloucestershire Jazz Live [GJL], our County Jazz Centre for youth and adult musicians, has recently gained a third consecutive Will Michael Jazz Education Award and Diploma for their outstanding commitment and provision from 2016-17.  Whilst we are already amidst our 2017-18 season, GJL has seen a very successful development as a highly reputable jazz centre for our keen county jazz musicians and we are very proud of this fourth award of recent years.

The 2016-17 academic year saw an impressive number of performance opportunities for members of all our youth groups, Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Academy (GYJA) and Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra (GYJO) and our adult group Jazz2Go.  Highlights of the year were performing at the National Concert Band Festivals, Music for Youth Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Music for Youth Regional and National Festivals, Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Upton Jazz Festival, as well as gigs for the Queen’s 90th birthday, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Stroud Jazz Weekend, our GJL concerts as well as a youth tour to Paris, all of which proved to mark a ground-breaking year for our members and tutors.

Our first collaboration with another county group, the Oxfordshire Youth Big Band (OYBB), also proved as a new and exciting opportunity for our youth musicians, which featured a world premiere double big band piece “Bayard’s Juke Joint” composed by Oxfordshire musician Nick Blake. Showcasing several student arrangements and compositions throughout the year similarly promoted the incredible talent we have in the county, many of whom who have taken music as a course of study in further education.

The report on our award also acknowledged the new inclusion of improvisation workshops and useful teaching and learning resources for schools, county musicians and classroom teachers. Working with internationally renowned trumpeter, composer and arranger Guy Barker was also a very memorable experience at Cheltenham Jazz Festival for everyone involved. 2016-17 also saw GJL’s first ever online video submissions of each group to the International Jazz Day Archives, where one performance was also selected as one of their highlights from around the world.

I attended the presentation evening on Wednesday 22 November 2017 at Trinity Laban Conservatoire (London) to collect this recent award. Supported by the Musician’s Company who have been supporting and promoting excellence in music since the Middle Ages, this once again proved a key annual event to meet and share ideas with other tutors and hubs across the Country and hear leading jazz ensembles. The Trinity Laban Contemporary Jazz Ensemble certainly delivered an impressive set for the evening.

We are very hopeful that 2017-18 will prove to be another very successful and enjoyable year for everyone involved at Gloucestershire Jazz Live. We kindly thank the Will Michael awards panel and Musician’s Company for this national recognition.

Peter Martin, GJL Director.


MusicEd article

MusicEd reports

Musician’s Company

GJL website

GJL YouTube channel

GJL International Jazz Day videos


Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Academy perform at Upton Jazz Festival

GYJA at Upton medium
Best of Young Jazz Stage

GYJA performed at the Upton Jazz Festival on the Best of Young Jazz stage at the end of June.  As the band’s second year at the event, here’s what a couple of GYJA members had to say about the experience…

“On Sunday 25th June GYJA performed at Upton Jazz Festival. It gave us an amazing opportunity to perform in a professionally relaxed environment. When we first arrived, we all met up and it gave some of the new members a chance to really fit in with the group and get to settle with everyone. We had about an hour before we went on stage to look round the festival and explore all the different events. We watched many other adult Jazz bands, and the atmosphere was magical and it was amazing to watch many people dancing to the music. 

At 14:50 we played our set and we even had our own sound crew! It was a unique opportunity to perform our pieces in front of a broad audience who we could tell were very into Jazz.  Our set consisted of modern and traditional Jazz pieces, including three vocal pieces. My favourite piece was “Night and Day” as it was sung by one of my Jazz heroes, Ella Fitzgerald. Another favourite of mine was Guaglione, which I know the rest of the band really enjoyed as it incorporated some dance moves, making not only pleasurable for the ear, but the eyes too!

 Overall, performing in the Best of Young Jazz tent at Upton was an unforgettable experience, and the whole group really enjoyed it.”

 Hannah Hughes (GYJA Vocalist and Cellist)

“The Upton Jazz Festival was an exciting and highly enjoyable experience for me, both as a performer and as someone listening. On arrival I was instantly hit with musical vibes and as we parked we could hear jazz coming from one of the tents that covered the field, enhancing the festival feeling. 

Although I felt slightly nervous on the way there, showing my wristband to the people sat at the entrance and walking into the field of music made my excitement more prominent than my nerves. 

 Whilst waiting for our performance, I sat and listened to the band that was on before us. This particular band was playing a range of very funky numbers, and it definitely got me into the feel of the music, as the grooves and melodies were engaging and enjoyable to listen to.

As a member of the rhythm section, I tend to go on stage earlier than the rest of the band to set up the percussion equipment and to arrange the kit in a way that Nathan (the other drummer) and I are comfortable with. During the sound check I always explore the sounds of each of the drums that I’m presented with, getting an idea of what would be appropriate in different places.

Performing was an extremely enjoyable experience, and I loved playing the kit and percussion for the band. The atmosphere of the festival and the build up to the performance meant that when we were playing I was really ‘in the zone’.” 

 Will Foster (GYJA Drummer and Percussionist)


GM musicians perform at Ronnie Scott’s…

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On Sunday 7th May, members of Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra travelled to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London to take part in ‘The Big Band In A Day’ workshop.  Following the workshop GYJO rounded off their amazing day by performing on the main stage.  This is what 2 of GYJO’s members thought about the day…

“We arrived at Ronnie Scott’s shortly before midday and were shown upstairs to the bar to meet our tutors for the day, saxophonists Phil Meadows and Jim Gold. The Big Band In A Day workshop began with a look at breathing techniques for woodwind and brass players. It was really striking how a few simple changes to breathing technique really improved our ensemble sound. The work on breathing quickly evolved into some detailed analysis of chord voicings, and how big band arrangers combine notes of a chord in order to get a rich, yet coherent sound. Our tutors for the day had a really unique approach – it was several hours before we even looked at any sheet music, and we had composed and arranged a blues sequence long before we did any conventional rehearsal.

Having finished rehearsing for the day, we then got the opportunity to go down to the main stage to watch the Callum Au Big Band sound-checking before their set in the evening. It was really interesting to watch a band of such a high standard playing through and preparing their repertoire – the quality of the playing was incredibly impressive.

The day at Ronnie Scott’s ended with our set on the main stage, performing only music we had learnt from scratch earlier that day to the paying audience for the evening. This really was an unforgettable experience. It was amazing to perform live on a world-famous stage – the atmosphere in the club really is incredible.”

Louis Horrell (GYJO – Alto 1 Saxophonist and Assistant Section Leader)

“We started the day with the usual introductions of the tutors, both alto sax players, and a tune up. Ends out, there is always stuff you can learn; even about playing a note and comparing its pitch to someone else’s! This then got developed into ‘how to play a chord’ – sounds simple, but, as we learnt, there are several hidden tricks and vices that make a chord sound powerful and ‘juicy’.

Once we had learnt the subtleties of chord playing, we used these in a discussion on ‘what makes a blues’ – the chords used, the format of the melody, and general feel. The tutors then let us put our newfound knowledge to the test and gave us the task of writing our own blues, each section doing their own, then combining them all into a multi-rhythmed, polyphonic blues explosion! It gave me a real sense of accomplishment, knowing I’ve not only played at Ronnie Scott’s but also played something completely original, composed by GYJO as a whole. Once we had this rehearsed, we went on to look at Moten Swing – a piece popularised by the legendary Count Basie. Here is where we learnt ‘how to swing’ – once again, it isn’t just a crotchet-quaver-as-a-triplet. We learnt the necessity of the emphases on the 2nd and 4th crotchets, and how to get the most swing to your swing through proper articulation. This led onto an addition from our tenor sax player Edi May, who had composed a small intro for the occasion, that showed off the band in a fun way, and also allowed us all to get tips from the tutors on how to write our own material, both on the actual content and how to lay it out on the score.

Once we all got this into our heads, it was time to eat. We had the privilege of listening to the sound check of the headline act, the Callum Au Big Band. To describe in three words: “It was Mind-blowing!” The tightness of the brass section was immense and highlighted the importance of having a section that was in sync with itself; and the calibre of their solos was staggering – being able to scream and slide in the powerful tunes, yet maintain a beautiful tone and musicianship in the ballads is something I can only aspire to do. However, what amazed me the most about this band wasn’t their playing, but their informality. It goes to show that you don’t have to sell your souls to be good musicians.

After that, we went on stage to perform, beginning with Edi’s intro, which seemed to call everyone’s attention suitably! This then neatly led on to us playing Moten Swing, where we showed off use of dynamics and articulation, and then finally our blues, which we never named, to round off our part of the night with our creativity and general confidence to play. This ended the night perfectly for me, as it made our mark on the venue. It was a really enjoyable, albeit intense, day that we all learnt greatly from.”

Rory Gordon (GYJO – Trumpet 1 and Section Leader)