NYJO announces its new configuration: NYJO & the NYJO Academy
For many years NYJO as an organisation has had two prime activities:
- The main gigging band, often called NYJO 1 during rehearsals, which performs around 30–40 professional gigs every year, and is the main justification for our Arts Council funding.
- A regular Saturday rehearsal/workshop environment, in which there are usually three simultaneous educational workshops in the morning and another (NYJO London) in the afternoon. These are intended to develop jazz skills in young players and help provide the best learning opportunities that we can within our resources
Following an extraordinarily successful year in 2012 and consequent increased demand for NYJO’s activities, the NYJO rehearsal structure needs to change. The recent move to the LCCM has enabled NYJO to offer a more structured set of rehearsal and workshop arrangements. We are therefore pleased to announce a new concept: the NYJO Academy, which will run all NYJO’s educational workshops, as a linked but separate activity to the rehearsals for the main gigging band. This new structure will improve the learning opportunities for students, give more focus to individual development and be done under a structure that will allow NYJO to seek broader funding.
From Saturday 2 February 2013, the NYJO Academy will run the following Saturday workshops:
- The NYJO Jazz Ensemble. 10am. Guideline: up to age 16, approximate standard ABRSM classical grades 3-5 or jazz grades 2-4. Focuses on ensemble performance skills in a large jazz ensemble: an introduction to standard big band repertoire, interpreting notation, familiarity with a variety of grooves from jazz and related genres and jazz improvisation. Acting MD: Tom Stone (post to be recruited).
- The NYJO Academy Big Band. 10am. Guideline: This band is for musicians with technical abilities and musical qualifications that suggest a possible professional career, but who are not yet ready for the NYJO main band. For most the age range would be 17+, but exceptional younger players would be considered. More complex and demanding repertoire, some written for the NYJO main band or other professional level compositions and arrangements. Experience in large jazz ensemble performance is expected, with music reading, improvisational abilities and overall jazz style developing well. A possible preparatory route for audition/selection for the main NYJO performing ensemble. MD: Paul Eshelby.
- The NYJO Academy Vocal Workshop. 10.30am. This will have an increased focus within NYJO and will be more integrated with the other workshops and rehearsals.
- NYJO London. 2pm. Guideline: up to 18. Focuses on smaller ensemble and improvisation skills. The ability to sight-read to a fair level would be useful. MD: Phil Meadows.
In addition, the main gigging band (NYJO) will rehearse starting at 10.30am. Participation in this rehearsal will be strictly by invitation of MD Mark Armstrong.
Q & A
Question: Is this all about the move to LCCM?
Answer: No. All this was being thought about when we were at the Cockpit. However, the Cockpit did not provide the opportunity to expand the educational activities of NYJO.
Question: What is behind the change?
Answer: The demand on Paul Eshelby’s band was so great that we realized that we were not doing the best for the participants. The range of maturity in both age and musical development meant that no one was getting the best learning opportunity that NYJO can provide. The gap was too great to be tolerable and we were at risk of losing participants across the spectrum – from very talented and experienced to over-awed new entrants. Put simply, the old structure is no longer the best for what we were trying to do.
Question: Will new people get an audition?
Answer: We don’t plan formal auditions. The NYJO Academy will still be a place where every jazz aspiring young jazz musician will be found a place. However, the music directors will guide new entrants and help them find the right place to make progress.
Question: I have been coming to NYJO 2 workshops for a while. How do I know which band I should join on 2 February?
Answer: Hopefully the guidelines above will make that clear. If you are in doubt, Paul Eshelby, Tom Stone and Mark Armstrong will all be available to help reach the right decision. We all want you to enjoy being in the right band for your ability and age.
Question: Is this the start of NYJO charging a fee for attendance at rehearsals?
Answer: It is true that NYJO needs to raise even more money if it is to continue to provide jazz education to more young musicians and to an even higher standard. NYJO’s Trustees are duty bound to consider all possible ways of fund raising, including charging for attendance at the NYJO Academy, but no decision has yet been taken. We are very reluctant to break the great NYJO tradition of not charging for our Saturday workshops, so if you have any good ideas about fund raising please speak to Nigel Tully or Jack Fallow. Most of you will have received the NYJO appeal for ‘Friends of NYJO’. It was circulated twice last year via all the attendees. It was a major disappointment to the Trustees to see how few parents decided to support NYJO.
Question: I am only able to come in the morning. What if I am told to go into NYJO London which rehearses in the afternoon?
Answer: We won’t tell anyone anything that doesn’t suit their travel arrangements. If you are recommended to consider NYJO London, it will be because the music directors think that will give you the best learning opportunity. But it is up to you.