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…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)

The Guy Barker ‘Experience’!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Following on from our previous blog GM students simply starstruck! some more of our players have been telling us about their experience at this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival:

“Over the last few years Jazz2Go have performed at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival as part of Gloucestershire Jazz live.  This year we had the privilege of working with Guy Barker.  Guy chose a new piece for us to work on that the whole band enjoyed – it was very much in our style and within our capabilities.  Sight-reading the new piece in front of Guy was a bit daunting especially when you had a solo part or when he suddenly pointed at you to do an improvisation.  However, he soon put us at our ease with his relaxed and friendly manner.  All sections of the band felt involved and he answered questions and concerns.  I think he was pleased with the work we did on the piece and he made constructive comments on two other pieces that were in our programme for the festival. 

Guy became an honorary member of Jazz2Go on the day of the festival.  Not only did he conduct his chosen piece but played alongside us for the rest of our programme.  He enthused about our playing and encouraged us all to continue making the great sound that our musical director has developed.   I’m quite sure the music we worked on with Guy will stay in our repertoire for some time and we would all love him to pay a return visit.”   Wendy Dawson, piano player, Jazz2Go.

“On Monday 1st May, Guy Barker conducted some previously arranged pieces for Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Academy that we performed on the free stage at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. We performed an arrangement of “Sing Sing Sing” and “Minnie the Moocher” after rehearsing the pieces with Guy twice in rehearsal on stage, closing our set, which was great fun!

In “Sing Sing Sing”, we all had a chance to do a solo or joint improvisation with Guy Barker which was a great experience as it taught me a lot about how to improvise and helped to build my confidence when improvising, and was a really fun piece to play as a band.

In “Minnie the Moocher” we all had to sing along with the crowd, and the atmosphere was awesome! Guy Barker had written an amazing arrangement, which showed off all our band’s skills, while challenging us, which I enjoyed.

Playing with Guy Barker taught me so much about improvisation and the potential of the band, and helped build my confidence when improvising, and I look forward to seeing what else the band will be able to do in future, using what Guy has taught us.”  Emily Chestney, flute player, Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Academy.

Photos: Steve Green Photography

GM students simply starstruck!

GYJO members with Guy Barker

In March and April 2017 our jazz centre Gloucestershire Jazz Live had the experience of jazz workshops with the incredible Guy Barker (trumpeter, composer, arranger, music director). Following the first workshop a few GYJO members were keen to tell us what they thought:

“One of the reasons why I am privileged to be a part of GYJO, is that we get the opportunity to work with amazing musicians that really know what they are talking about. From when Guy Barker walked in the room, I knew we were in the hands of a professional and were in for a great session. As a fellow trumpet player, I was particularly interested to see his skill on his trumpet – and oh boy I was amazed. When we hit the solo section of Eddie Harris’ ‘Cold Duck Time’, I heard probably the most incredible trumpet solo for a long time. Every single trick in the bag was used, this guy could play: really play. When he finished myself along with everyone else in the band was simply starstruck.

Not only was he an amazing player but a brilliant educator. He was encouraging, supportive, kind and gave incredible wisdom. He gave us a totally different perspective on the piece, based on his time out in Africa playing it, and showed us some little techniques. He also gave some really good advice as a fellow trumpet player to me, something invaluable and incredibly helpful. It was an amazing evening, and I look forward to the next time we shall be working with him as we perfect our repertoire for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival”.  Tom Gill (GYJO)

“Last week we had a brilliant workshop with renowned trumpeter, Guy Barker. It’s always great to have some real inspirational players come to groups we play in and Guy was certainly no exception. He led a very lively rehearsal but didn’t struggle to take the attention of the whole room when he played a solo to us making us all marvel at his amazing playing. After showing us what he could do he gave us some pointers on how to practice improvising and how to play better in the style of the music we were playing. He spoke to us for a while about the history of the music we were playing and the musicians who played it before us. He also told us lots about himself and his experiences being a musician and working for charity, which was all very interesting and exciting for those of us who hope to follow in a similar career path. Guy also showed us a new big band chart, a jazz standard, “Two O’clock Jump” which we will be performing as part of our set at Cheltenham jazz festival with Guy alongside us. It was a fun chart and great rehearsal in general. I’m looking forward to working more with Guy and performing with him especially!”   Edi May (GYJO)


GM welcomes new Schools’ Manager

Welcome to the new Music Service Schools Manager, Nick Steel!

Nick joined Gloucestershire Music at the end of February 2017 and he has already been roaming the highways and byways of Gloucestershire visiting lots of schools and teachers.  We’ve asked him to write his first blog to introduce himself to you all so over to you Nick…

I’ve joined Gloucestershire Music (GM) as the new Schools’ Manager and as such will be the new point of contact for schools that use GM’s services. My job will be to add curriculum support and offer ways to improve the quality of musicianship across all schools in the county.

Previously I was Head of Strings for Gwent Music in South Wales and have spent the last 11 years teaching the violin and viola in Monmouth and Abergavenny, raising the profile of strings and music services as a whole.

I have a firm belief that music can offer so much more than notes and rhythms and hugely benefit the pupil, school life and the wider community. I see myself as being extremely lucky to have found a career that is both my hobby and my passion and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute working with young musicians from ages 4 -21.

After graduating from university I immediately started work with Gwent Music and rose through the ranks until in 2013 I was appointed as Head of Strings and managed the team of 21 string tutors as well as conducting county ensembles.

Having only just moved to Gloucestershire from Cardiff I’m looking to find local orchestras and ensembles to join and will have to dust off my viola! In my spare time I sing for the BBC in Cardiff. I also enjoy playing tennis, I’ve recently started playing pool in a local league and, though far away now, I am still a season ticket holder at Cardiff City FC – perhaps I’ll find time to watch Forest Green Rovers or Cheltenham Town in the future!

Since moving to Painswick my wife and I have taken advantage of the rolling hills and valleys and have invested in some walking boots. I’m extremely committed to youth music and am geared up to expand and improve music making in Gloucestershire.


#gloucestershiremusic, #makingmusic, #gwentmusic, #gloucestershire, #cardiff, #bbc,


Performing at the Royal Albert Hall was an amazing experience…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the excitement of our musicians performing in the Massed Ensemble at this year’s Music for Youth Prom at the Royal Albert Hall (see our previous blog Performance of a lifetime for our County’s young musicians at the Royal Albert Hall), our fantastic Gloucestershire Youth Jazz Orchestra (GYJO) were performing in the final platform on Tuesday 15th November.  Performing at this platform is by invitation only, which just shows how talented our young musicians are.

We asked two members of GYJO, Roella Oloro (pianist and composer) and Daisy Houlder (vocalist and flautist), to tells us all about their experience:

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have taken part in the Music for Youth Proms this year and especially to have had my piece Cruisin’ played there.  For my music to have had such exposure was really a great opportunity.  As I was there on both Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th, I got to see a great array of talent and different music styles that Britain has to offer.  Being part of the first mass ensemble performance was wonderful because of the scale of the production.  It was inspiring to see how more than 800 hundred of us came together to pull off the performance that we did.  Also, I especially enjoyed working with Philip Harper (Composer, Conductor and Musical Director of the Cory Band) as I was able to converse with him afterwards about his piece and about composing tips.

On the Tuesday, GYJO had the great privilege of closing the show with ’It Had Better Be Tonight’ and my composition Cruisin’.  It was a really amazing feeling to be sitting at the keyboard seeing how the piece that I originally started working on in a little practice room at my old school had come so far.  It just confirmed for me that composing and performing at big venues such as the Royal Albert Hall is exactly the sort of thing that I’d want to do for a living.  It’s events like the Music for Youth Proms that give young people the confidence to pursue their passion for music in a big way” Roella Oloro

“What an amazing experience. The nerves hadn’t quite sunk in when we were singing through our parts, a Capella, on the coach or waiting in the dressing room, but as soon as we went into the hall for our first rehearsal and there were rows and rows of empty seats I was quite overwhelmed.  I couldn’t believe that later that evening those seats would be filled and everyone was going to be watching us perform.  Once the rehearsal began I realised what an incredible evening we were going to have.  We then rehearsed the mass ensemble which was such a great opportunity to perform with the orchestra and huge choir.  In the break we got to go to the science museum where we had dinner and got to explore before the performance in the evening.  The audience, including many family and friends, began to arrive and all of those empty seats began to fill.  We got to watch the first half which was so interesting because there was such a wide variety of performances, from string orchestras to African choirs, and I couldn’t believe the talent in the room.  It was finally our turn and the performance from the band was so together and got everybody enjoying themselves.  After performing Roella’s piece, it was my turn to sing and I honestly can’t describe what an incredible feeling it was to perform there, in the same place as so many music icons.  Following that we performed the mass ensemble of ‘Hope and Glory’ which was much fun, especially when the balloons fell on us from the ceiling. After all that, there was such a buzz in the dressing room and after a inevitable GYJO Royal Albert Hall band selfie we headed back to Cheltenham after a very memorable day” Daisy Houlder


Performance of a lifetime for our County’s young musicians at the Royal Albert Hall

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Music For Youth Proms 2016

At 9:00 on Monday 14th November 2016 over 200 young singers and instrumentalists from around Gloucestershire were eagerly boarding their coaches to take them to the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London for their performance at the Music For Youth Proms 2016.

Music For Youth is a national music charity providing access to performance and audience opportunities for young musicians across the UK through its annual season of festivals and concerts. With over 40,000 young musicians taking part each year it is the world’s largest youth music festival. Gloucestershire Music hosts one of the 50 Regional Festivals at Cheltenham Town Hall each year and welcomes performances from schools, community groups, music services etc. through to groups run by young people who demonstrate amazing compositional and ensemble creations in their own right.

This year we were delighted to have three of our Gloucestershire Music County Music Groups get through to the National Festival.  Read more about this in Steve Legge’s previous blog ‘Now that’s what I call a weekend!’   We then were delighted to hear the exciting news that GYJO had been invited to perform at the final platform at the Music For Youth Proms in London. This was a great honour to be invited to perform alongside 3,000 other performers who would get the chance to perform on one of the three days.

The amazing bonus this year was that Gloucestershire Music was successful in submitting a bid to MFY to provide the Massed Ensemble item for one of the three nights at the MFY Proms. We submitted a joint proposal for 500 young musicians to come together from our county and two local Music Hubs: South Gloucestershire Music Hub and Bath & North East Somerset Music Hub. The proposal was to commission a work from the wonderfully talented Philip Harper (Composer, Conductor and Musical Director of the Cory Band – No.1 Brass Band in the World!) to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Through GM’s links with the National Concert Band Festival we proposed the Wind Orchestras from all three areas collaborated. The massed singing force was a combination of the county choirs from the three areas and pupils from Secondary Schools. I was so proud to see that 34 of our County’s Secondary Schools nominated pupils, which made for a wonderfully inclusive choir.

The wonderful piece entitled ‘A Shakespearean Triptych’ was ready at the start of September 2016 and all the wind orchestras set to work learning their parts. The massed choir had a two-day course during the October half term and had a fabulous time learning the atmospheric work.

On the 6th November we all travelled down to Bath Pavilion to rehearse for the first time as a massed ensemble and with Philip Harper at the helm conducting the day! It was so exciting to finally hear the piece come together with all the singers and instrumentalists. The young musicians really rose to Philip’s direction, which brought the important nuances out of the scoring to create a wonderfully theatrical performance.

When the big day came we were all very excited, as were the five coaches of supporters who joined us for the day! Anyone who has been to the Royal Albert Hall will know what an incredibly impressive and special performance venue it is, but to be seated on the stage itself or in the choir seats alongside the awesome central organ is one of life’s most memorable moments! The young musicians were in awe of the venue and were fascinated to watch the rehearsals for some of the other groups performing. Then it was time for our rehearsal and a sea of red t-shirts rose out of their seats and stormed the stage, with our fanfare musicians flanking the sides of the stage on the steps – it was a magical sight!

After a successful rehearsal the massed ensemble had some time to take in the sights of the Science Museum and have some food before we returned to the RAH to give our world premiere performance! The instrumentalists prepared for their entrance from their dressing room (even that is a fascinating part of the RAH that not many people get to see! We refrained from having too many demanding rider requests!) and when they weren’t performing they got to watch the performers up close from the Arena. The choir members had a great view from the choir seats and were having a wonderful time throughout the performance making their torches dance to the music, creating a twinkling star effect in the darkness, which was magical!

Then our time came – just before the interval – to perform. Ten minutes of pure musical joy ensued and every single young musician focused, sang and played their hearts out to wonderful effect. I’m sure there were many a teary eye from the parents and supporters from the audience at that point! Everyone was so proud of the result – the piece resonated around that famous hall with the drama intended and the atmosphere was spine tingling!

What was also incredibly inspiring for all involved was seeing such a diverse range of young musicians coming together in all the other performances that night. From orchestras to smaller instrumental ensembles; neon faced drumming groups to dancing jazz bands; heavy metal bands to choirs the standard of musicianship was at it’s highest standard and there was something for everyone.

For some of our musicians and singers in particular this was a world away from any musical experiences they had been exposed to before and for many this was a truly life changing evening. At Gloucestershire Music we aim to provide these inspiring opportunities for young people by working with our National Partnership Organisations such as MFY and we are so pleased to hear that for the next three years at least the government will continue to fund these sorts of national initiatives through the Arts Council commissioning – long may it continue to be a priority for young people to have access to the wonders of music in all it’s different genres, as it is one of the greatest pleasures of being a human being and the souls of those involved in this project have certainly been enriched because of it.

Many thanks must go to:

  • The MFY team for their ongoing support and wonderful organization of such a mammoth festival
  • Make Music Gloucestershire/Arts Council for part funding this experience, South Glos and B&NES for their wonderfully collaborative teams – it was a pleasure to work with you and your young musicians
  • Philip Harper for your wonderful new work and for leading our massed ensemble with such flair and grace
  • Steven Legge (Extended Learning and Provisions Manager at GM) for all the amazing organization of our involvement in MFY this year – awesome!
  • All the GM staff and GYC Tutors who prepared the young musicians so brilliantly and looked after them so well during each event
  • All the Colwell team who support everything we do so wonderfully.
  • All the parents, schools and friends who supported their children to be part of such a wonderful experience – they couldn’t do it without your support and enthusiasm which is not to be underestimated – THANK YOU!

Watch this space…

There’s more!!! Come back to read our next blog about the next day when Gloucestershire Music took 21 young jazz musicians from GYJO to give their amazing debut performance at the Royal Albert Hall. As one of only a few County’s to have more than one group represented at the MFY Proms nationally it was such a treat to be able to go for a second day to celebrate the amazing talent we have in this county. All I can say is ‘WOW!’ but I’ll leave you to read all about it in the next blog.

The Lithuanian Brass Band movement, 20 years in the making

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With a population of around 150,000, Panevezys is a typical, Lithuanian industrial city.  A central hub with many outlying villages that form part of a municipality.  Over the last 20 years, the Municipality of Panevysis has supported a unique programme establishing UK style brass bands in towns and villages.

In 1996, Remigius Vilys (cultural minister for Paneveysis) witnessed brass bands for the first time at a European festival.  He saw how young people were engaged in positive music making and how communities and town bands were key to developing young players of the future.  So when Remi was charged with the responsibility of providing new ways to engage young people through music he looked to the British Brass Band system for inspiration.

Remi started to research how community brass bands in the UK used local community musicians to teach young people in their areas.  Many of these musicians are not qualified teachers in the formal sense but this does not hinder students as we can see through the many fine youth bands around the country.   Remi mirrored this approach in his own area by utilising local musicians to teach local children.

This infectious programme has since spread the length and breadth of the country.  The bands meet regularly to perform and compete throughout the year with five graded sections.  A National Youth Brass Band has represented Lithuania at the European Youth Brass Band Championships on two occasions and EBBA has agreed to hold the 2019 European Brass Band Championships in Palanga, a coastal town on the East coast.  The Lithuanian Brass Band Association  ( oversees the bands, foreign trips, fundraising, instrument purchase and festival organisation.  As part of their work they have also taken ownership over the Trefor Evans Trust* and brought other partners on board to support the development of young players.

Remi understands that the issues for young people in Lithuania are different to many in the UK however music, no matter where, can be used as a vehicle for helping to raise the aspirations and confidence of young people.  Remi used this philosophy as a way to gain funding from his local government to help issues of social mobility.

The local government of Panevezys originally provided funding for music with the simple aim of keeping young people occupied.  They can now see how music can have a profound effect on peoples lives and raise their confidence and aspirations.

This trip was my 16th to Lithuania and ten years since my first visit in 2006.  The occasion is a special one, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Tefor Evans Trust.  In March 2006, Lydbook Brass Band visited Panyvesis to give performances to a brass band movement that had only been in existence since 1995.  During their tour, Trefor had commented on how it would be possible for the band and Gloucestershire Music to help the young people by sending instruments and resources over from the UK.   Many members of Lydbook Band were shocked to see how few instruments were available for students (in one band 20 pupils were sharing 5 instruments).  In one village they discovered that the band had to stop the pupils taking the instruments home to practice as family members often sold them for money.  Trefor’s passing a day after the band returned led to his then partner Jo Millin to establish the Trefor Evans Trust.  Initially the trust was set up to raise money and collect instruments to send to Panevysis.  The Trust raised £3000 and amassed over 120 instruments that were delivered to Lithuania later that year.  This great response was the catalyst to providing local villages with the opportunity to establish bands for their young people.

It was particularly poignant to be joined on this trip by four members of the Lydbrook Band (past and present):  Robert Morgan, Philip Storer, Paul Mclaughlin and Jo Millin.  A commemorative concert was held on Saturday 1st October with representatives from many of the bands and music organisations of Lithuania.  Philip, Paul and I were then asked to lead master classes and rehearsals with the Austyn UP Youth Band on the Sunday.  These are among some of the finest youth brass band percussion players and always keen to learn more about the British banding scene and to explore new ideas.

On Monday 3rd October we packed our bags for our afternoon flight back to the UK.  Remi however had one last visit for us.  We made a brief detour to a primary school close to the City called Panevezio Pajonas.  Philip Storer, a passionate teacher and experienced whole class tutor, led two stunning sessions that gripped the children as they experienced their first session of playing a brass instrument.  It is always a pleasure to witness great teaching and learning and, as the Director of the School commented, ‘Philip is the perfect teacher’.

So ends my 16th trip and what a difference since that first tour in 2006.  Hundreds of young musicians now play each week in over 20 bands.  Many have gone on to study music both in Lithuania and abroad and the reputation of Lithuania bands is spreading.  Who knows what will be possible by the time they host the European Championships in 2019?  Watch this space.

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

PAUL MCLAUGHLIN (Bass player with Lydbrook Band) said:  ‘I wasn’t sure what to expect for my first trip to Lithuania but having heard so much about it from my Lydbrook colleagues, I was intrigued.  I found the people incredibly welcoming, the children talented and grateful for any assistance we could offer, and the surroundings beautiful.  The final session in the primary school with two groups of 16 or so kids  was interesting to observe and participate in. Working with very experienced educators like Steve and Phil was insightful and the children obviously enjoyed it’


Steve Legge’s footnotes…!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s been another busy year for GM with many successes, changes and developments.  Once again we have been well represented at a national level with success at both Music for Youth and the National Concert Band Festival.  In addition we were delighted to hear that the Jazz Centre won a ‘Diploma for Services to Jazz’ as part of the Music Education Awards in London.

Much of this success is attributed to the dedication of our young musicians and support of their families but we must also recognise and celebrate the hard work of our dedicated team of tutors. Our team of music tutors, teachers and group leaders commit themselves at weekends and evenings to support the development of our young musicians.  There have however been some changes to our staff this year and we were sad to lose some of our key members at the end of the academic year.

New Director for FVMC

Tim Cambray has retired as the Director of Five Valleys Music Centre after many years at the helm.  Tim has led the Centre not only as the Director, but also as the conductor of the Centre’s senior youth wind band.  We wish Tim all the very best for his retirement.  Katrina Wyndow will be taking on the role of Centre Director from September.  Katrina is a member of the music staff at Stroud High School and has been associated with Five Valleys Music Centre as a past student and current  woodwind tutor.  Katrina has a wealth of experience and we look forward to a new and exciting future for FVMC.

Fond farewell to Mr Cowley

Philip Cowley has been with GM for well over 30 years as a music tutor, music centre director, group leader and area manager.  In July this year, GM held their end of year staff ‘do’ and wished Phil a final goodbye as he retired.  The Vine Tree Inn in Randwick was packed as an all star jazz band entertained the crowds who came to wish Phil a happy retirement.  It was lovely to see past group members, pupils and staff members there in support of Phil’s commitment to GM over such a long time.  I am sure we will continue to see much of Phil as he is such a valued member of our adult groups.  Thank you from all at GM for the many years of dedicated service.

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

Photographs: Steve Green Photography