Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NYJO London

What is NYJO London?

It is a jazz training and performance orchestra aimed at helping young musicians who live in or attend schools in Greater London – i.e. inside the M25 motorway. Check here for more information.

How do I join?

Come along to our rehearsal workshops and sit in! There’s no audition.  And the first two weeks are free.

When you first come you must bring with you a completed registration form, together with a photo of yourself. You can do this in advance - follow this link, print off the form, complete it and bring it with you. Hand it to an adult member of the NYJO team who will ensure that, for safety, your registration details and photograph are securely logged and filed. They will then introduce you to the Music Director (MD).

All new attendees should make themselves known to the Music Director taking the rehearsal – and, if you can, during the week before, phone the NYJO office (020 7494 1733) or e-mail to let us know to expect you.

Is there a register?

Yes – near the entrance. You must sign in on arrival – this is important for Health and Safety and in case of emergencies such as fire. If your name’s not there, just write it in – we know there are new members on a weekly basis.

NYJO London Youth Jazz OrchestraWhere and when do workshop rehearsals take place?

2 o’clock till 4 o’clock every Saturday afternoon at

The London Centre of Contemporary Music

50-52 Union Street



Click here for map

Did it not used to be 2:30 till 4:30pm?

Yes, but it was better for most folk to move to an earlier time. So we changed it.

*Check the website every week, sometimes workshops will be held elsewhere.

How much does it cost?

The first two weeks are free. Then, it is £3 per week.

What if I can’t afford the £3?

If the £3 is a problem, or the costs of travel, check the Musicians Benevolent Fund website for useful information about financial help with costs of playing and travel.  Also, NYJO London sometimes can help.  It depends on how much money the charity has available.

Is there an age limit?

There’s no minimum age but the maximum age is 19 years old.

NYJO London Youth Jazz OrchestraWhat standard am I expected to be?

Being interested is the most important thing. Playing jazz calls for skills not generally covered in classical training. Nevertheless, provided you have a decent level of sight-reading, you’ll probably be ready to rehearse with NYJO London.

Many NYJO players use – and we would strongly recommend - the ABRSM Jazz syllabus (check and its Jazz grade exams or the Trinity-Guildhall Jazz syllabus (check and its exams.

Jazz grade exams, while not the be-all and end-all, are a useful way of improving your jazz improvisation and you’ll find this excellent preparation for Jazz performance and participating in NYJO London. If you haven’t yet achieved this standard, you are still welcome – you’ll find, with regular attendance, you’ll improve enormously.

NYJO London Youth Jazz OrchestraHow many bands are rehearsing there?

As well as NYJO London, there are three bands – NYJO, NYJO Jazz Ensemble, NYJO Academy Big Band and the NYJO Vocal Workshop. They happen earlier in the day (see for more information).

Can I still attend if I play clarinet or flute?

You are very welcome.

We also have a baritone sax, which is available for rehearsals – if you wish to try it, just bring your own mouthpiece.

As a drummer, will I need to bring my own kit?

No. We have our own drum kits, cymbals etc.

Do guitarists have to bring their own amps?

We have our own amps, but you are very welcome to bring your own.  Most people use the NYJO amplifiers.  Remember you will need to carry it up a stair!

NYJO London Youth Jazz OrchestraIf I am a double bass player or keyboard player will I be expected to bring my own instrument?

No, we have a double bass and keyboard available. Bassists may, however, wish to bring a bass guitar.

Is there a refreshment break?

Yes, usually a 15-minute break. Soft drinks, coffee and sandwiches are available from the local cafes.

Does NYJO stop during the holidays?

No, NYJO runs right throughout the year. Apart from Christmas and the New Year, there are rehearsals every week.  If the rehearsal is cancelled (for example, because of a gig), registered players are advised in advance. Please check the NYJO London website regularly for late news.

When can I start?

Any Saturday you wish – just turn up. Come this Saturday if you like (and ideally ring us on 020 7494 1733 or e-mail and let us know so we can welcome you.)

If I am unable to stay for the full session can I leave early?

Yes, but please let us know.

NYJO London Youth Jazz OrchestraIf I struggle with the music will I get assistance?

NYJO London has a group of Music Leaders to help you.  We know that jazz is not easy and sometimes, even when you can get the notes, the ‘feel’ of the music is tricky.  But what you will find is experienced players along side you, helping you get the hang of it.  Playing with NYJO London will improve your reading and make you familiar with many of the great jazz tunes., and sitting next to people who know what they’re doing is one of the best ways of learning to sight-read and to play big band jazz. On top of that, each band is rehearsed by one of our experienced Music Directors – all excellent professional players in their own right, and also very used to tutoring. Just ask if you need a hand – no one will be judging you.

What happens at the beginning and end of the session?

Big bands need a lot of equipment, and it all needs setting up – so the rehearsals usually get underway once stands and amps have been set up. The same process happens in reverse at the rehearsal’s end, as the College needs to be left the way the band found it – so taking care of your own stand and pad is appreciated.

As a member of the NYJO volunteer team or an MD usually stays in the room, you don’t need to be afraid of leaving your instrument out during the break, but remember you are responsible for your own instruments and property – neither NYJO nor the LCCM accepts any liability for loss, damage or theft. Specialist insurance is available through the Musicians Union (

NYJO London Youth Jazz OrchestraDoes it matter if I don’t attend regularly?

While we appreciate that players who live further away may not be able to journey halfway across the city every Saturday, you’ll get the most from NYJO London if you attend as often as you can. NYJO London is fantastic practice both for big band sight-reading – so the more you can come, the more you’ll find yourself progressing as a musician. Nonetheless, if you can only come during the holidays you are very welcome to come along and we hope it inspires you to come down more often.

What’s it like being in NYJO?

NYJO is friendly and constantly open to welcoming new members, and playing next to someone every week is a sure-fire way of getting to know them. Furthermore, NYJO is committed to equal opportunities and zero tolerance to bullying. Download our equal opportunities statement here

Will I be offered the opportunity to play in concerts/gigs?

NYJO London will play several charity concerts a year, in which all rehearsal attendees are welcome to play with the band.

I have a physical disability. How accessible is the rehearsal venue?

Rehearsals are on upstairs floors which are accessible via a staircase. There are no lifts or disabled toilets at present although there are plans to construct a new building with full disabled access in the future. If you have specific requirements please phone the NYJO office in advance on 020 7494 1733 – we may be able to help, and we have made provision for those with both physical disabilities and sight impairments in the past.

If you have asthma or a severe allergy you should advise the MD. We cannot guarantee to have a First Aider on site at each rehearsal – if you need medication for your condition, please make sure you have your Epipen or inhaler with you.

For more information see

If a parent wants to accompany me will they be able to stay and watch?

Yes. Parents/carers are welcome to stay, as well as any other family members who are not players.  There are seating areas to listen to the rehearsals, read, or catch up with work on laptops.

We strongly advise NOT to bring babies or the very young though – it’s loud and hectic!

If my parent wishes to leave and collect me following the rehearsal will I be supervised?

Parents/carers of younger players often leave them at the LCCM, and whilst all reasonable efforts are made to supervise, we do expect that players should in their parent/carer’s opinion have reached such maturity which allows them to cope with a level of freedom.  Players often visit the local market during the refreshment break.

If you do not believe you are ready for this level of freedom, then a parent/carer should remain in attendance.

What is the nearest station?

The college is easy to reach using public transport or car. The closest station is London Bridge. On arriving at London Bridge station, follow the exits for Borough High Street. Walk down Borough High Street for about 3 – 4 minutes and turn right into Union Street. LCCM is on the right hand side of the road on the corner of Union Street and O’Meara Street. Other stations close by are Borough Underground, Southwark Underground and Waterloo East and Waterloo stations.

Additionally, there are numerous bus routes – see

NYJO London Jam Session at Ray’s Jazz

NYJO London are hosting a monthly jam session for aspiring young players, led by a professional rhythm section, at Ray’s Jazz record and book shop in Foyle’s Charing Cross Road.

Long before academic institutions and the cultural establishment saw fit to accept jazz, the jam session- an informal, yet often ruthlessly competitive event, was the place where musicians would test their mettle, try out ideas and meet like minds. It was the place where young ‘cats’ learned from their peers and elders, sometimes being put in their place, sometimes usurping their seniority.

The jam session is a place where the shared language of jazz enables connections to be made, musical fluency to be developed and friendships flourish. It is a part of the very fabric of jazz culture.

NYJO nurtures the next generation of young jazz musicians in the UK through weekly rehearsals, workshops and concert performances. In association with Ray’s Jazz, another institution steeped in the history of jazz in Britain, the new Ray’s Jazz/NYJO jam session offers an opportunity for up and coming young cats to mix with elder lions, as every month a pro rhythm section and guests host a jam for aspiring young jazzers who want to test their chops, meet other jazz scholars and have great fun playing the music they love

It would be brilliant if you could join us – it’s free as always and runs from 12-3pm on the top floor of Foyles, Charing Cross Road. Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road stations are a five minute walk and all performers get 20% off in the Ray’s Jazz section of the book store!