LCoM delivers jazz scheme supported by Ronnie Scott's Charitable Foundation

By Kath Hartley


Leeds College of Music welcomes young people from across Leeds and Bradford as part of scheme to widen the participation of young musicians in jazz, with support from Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation.

Launched in October 2018, the scheme has seen the conservatoire roll-out a series of jazz music education activities to young people from Belle Vue Girls Academy, Brigshaw High School, Chapel FM Jazz Collective, and Leeds City Academy in years 7-10, with the aim of discovering talent, developing skills, raising aspirations and increasing accessibility.

The project is an extension of LCoM’s Generation Big Band – an initiative run by Junior LCoM that aims to bring together three generations of jazz musicians – current students, LCoM alumni and up-and-coming young musicians.

Young people have had the opportunity to take part in after school jazz workshops, and those displaying a strong aptitude for jazz have been offered the opportunity to take part in an eight-week improvisation and musicianship course with LCoM. The culmination of the project will see four young musicians selected for scholarships to participate in either LCoM’s SMS Jazz programme or Generation Big Band.

The programme is led by LCoM Senior Lecturers in Jazz Mark Chandler, who during his successful career as a session musician, worked with top artists such as Shirley Bassey, The Pogues, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. More recently, Mark was a regular section member of the Syd Lawrence Orchestra.

Supporting Chandler with the delivery of the project is a team of LCoM alumni, including BA (Hons) Music (Jazz) graduates Dan Brunskill, James Mainwaring and Kevin Holbrough.

Karen Gourlay, Head of Junior LCoM, commented; “We are delighted to have support from the Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation for LCoM’s new jazz outreach programme, which provides opportunities for talented young musicians to develop their skills. This funding allows us to reach more young musicians who are just discovering jazz and provide a progression route from first steps through to LCoM’s Generation Big Band, which brings together excellence across all generations of the Yorkshire jazz community. The initiative also provides an excellent opportunity for LCoM alumni to gain experience in teaching, delivering workshops and working in the community.”

Over the last 50 years, the conservatoire has become a leading authority for excellence in jazz across the UK and in Europe. Successful alumni from the programme include names such as Nikki Iles, Alan Barnes, Dave Newton, Pete Wareham, Matthew Bourne, Chris Sharkey, Snake Davis, Roller Trio, Matt Roberts, Ashley Henry and our Curriculum Leader for Jazz – Jamil Sheriff. Many of our staff and alumni have participated as house musicians or performers at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. 

Simon Cooke, one of RSCF’s Trustees said; “Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation is delighted to be able to support Leeds College of Music’s Generation Big Band project. Big bands give so much to the individual - from developing teamwork skills needed to create the overall sound, to honing the individual’s ability to play improvised solos within the construct. Big bands are ideal for both musical and personal development and we salute LCoM for their initiative.”

Gerry Godley, Principal and Managing Director of LCoM said; “We’re thrilled to have support from Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation to roll-out this programme to widen the participation of young people in jazz. As the provider of the first jazz degree in Europe, LCoM has a strong jazz heritage. We want to help develop the next generation of talent to ensure they have the skills and inspiration to become the jazz musicians of the future.”

Adrian Sinclair, Creative Director at Chapel FM, said; "At Chapel FM Arts Centre we are lucky to have our very own jazz collective of young musicians. We think jazz and improvisation are a fantastic option of young musicians and, with the band bursting at its seams with over 20 regular players, it really seems to be working.” 

Find out more about Junior LCoM.

Find out more about Ronnie Scott's Charitable Foundation.

By Kath Hartley

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