Rory Mann

Note: Rory completed our BA (Hons) in Music (Jazz) in 2019.

"My whole approach to the guitar, to ensemble playing, to composing, to music as a whole, has totally changed as a result of my time at LCoM...So many of the tutors here have such a valuable insight into all areas of music "


Rory Mann - BA (Hons) Music (Jazz)

Meet guitarist Rory Mann, who is currently a third year student on our Jazz pathway. During his time at LCoM so far, he has taken part in the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra and played alongside the incredible Julian Argüelles. He has been on the committee for the SU Big Band and frequently plays in pit bands for amateur musical theatre productions around West Yorkshire. 

Rory graduated from LCoM in 2019.

Has your music / approach / technique changed at all since your first year?

Absolutely, in more ways than I can express. My whole approach to the guitar, to ensemble playing, to composing, to music as a whole, has totally changed as a result of my time at LCoM; from my approaches to improvising over changes and comping, to phrasing and space, to how I listen to music and analyse it. So many of the tutors here have such a valuable insight into all areas of music and they can give you pieces of advice every now and then that really stick with you. My time on the foundation year was especially instrumental in shaping my outlook and priorities as a musician.

What has been the most interesting project you have worked on so far?

I took part in the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra in both semesters of my second year, and both projects were incredibly stimulating and challenging. In the first semester we played the music of renowned arranger Michael Abene (former arranger for the WDR Big Band), which was great to play a modern approach to more traditional big band music, and Steve Fishwick led it amazingly. However, the second semester was even more inspiring and challenging for me, as we played alongside saxophonist Julian Argüelles; playing his incredible music. Playing with Julian was a real insight into the real world, and the music we played was fascinating to approach; it really put my sight-reading to the test. Working under the direction of Richard Iles was an amazing experience as well.


 Is there anything that has really made you push yourself as a musician or anything new that you've not tried before?

The class we do in second year run by Jamil Sheriff that tackles how to approach complex rhythmic elements in improvisation was a real eye opener for me. It really showed me how you can build momentum and excitement in a solo by using different rhythmic devices. Quite often we get too hung up on covering harmony in jazz, and it's easy to forget how important the rhythmic element of soloing is.

What sort of accommodation are you living in? What advice would you give to new students about accommodation?

I lived in Joseph Stones House in my foundation year, I moved to a house in Burley for my first year, I lived in Mill Street flats (just around the corner from LCoM) in my second year and now I'm moving to a flat at the other end of city centre. Joseph Stones House might be expensive for what it is, but I'd say it's definitely worth it for being around all the other freshers and being so close to college in your first year. It's practically an LCoM rite of passage. I wouldn't recommend living as far out as Burley though. I had to get the bus in every day and I felt pretty isolated from college and the city. Mill Street, however, was great, as it was close to college and the halls are great quality. I'd definitely recommend Joseph Stones or Mill Street to new students; they're close by and you're with all the other freshers, which is vital for making new contacts and friends. But Hyde Park and Woodhouse are also great options that aren't too far away.

What do you get up to outside of LCoM?

I regularly go to gigs and jam sessions in and around Leeds. The city has an excellent music scene, with gigs on every night and a massive amount of variety in genre. There's also loads of jazz jam nights for you to get up and play at (something which is essential for the practising jazz musician), like at the LS6 Clock Cafe every Wednesday and Hyde Park Book Club every Thursday. I also do quite a lot of pit band playing for amateur musical theatre productions in the West Yorkshire area, which is a great way of making money and practising your sight-reading at the same time.


Have you been involved in the SU / societies or other LCoM activities?

Last year I was on the committee for the SU Big Band; a band run entirely by the students. It's a great band with an excellent social dynamic and we go abroad on tour every year; we just got back from Barcelona a few weeks ago. I have also just got a role as a Digimentor starting in September and have been course representative for my year's jazz students for the last two years, something that is great for improving the student voice and seeing how the college works behind the scenes.

What is the best thing about living and studying in Leeds?

There's so much stuff in the city, you'd be hard pressed to think of anything it doesn't have that you might need as a student. The nightlife is excellent and the music scene is one of the best in the country. It's also not too big that everything's out of reach; the whole city centre is in walking distance from the college. The bar scene is great, it's (relatively) cheap, and there's four other unis for you to meet people from.

What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of applying to your course?

Do some preparation. Get a specialist jazz tutor if you don't already, play with other people, go to jam nights, learn plenty of standards, do some transcribing. But perhaps most importantly, listen to plenty of music. The world of jazz is a massive one, and while it's essential that we all listen to the greats of old, there are so many younger musicians around now who are pushing the boundaries in so many ways; fusing genres together and using all kinds of new techniques. I find that too many jazz students pigeonhole themselves into one mind-set. They either just want to play straight-ahead jazz, or they shun the tradition completely in order to explore contemporary styles. I think it is important to respect the tradition, but don't let it shackle you.

How would you describe your experience at LCoM so far in three words?

Inspiring, Social, Opportunistic


Study Jazz at Leeds College of Music

Find out more about Rory Mann Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud

RT @wakefieldjazz: Last night @wakefield jazz the magic happened. Student band from @LeedsMusicDrama Sophie Speed Quartet @sophiegrace200…
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