NYJO’s Learning & Participation programme has the broad aim of ‘levelling the playing field in jazz education’ and each year we give opportunities to thousands of young people to engage with the music and develop their skills, ranging from their first experience of live music to support in entering higher education and the profession.

Our Artistic Director, Mark Armstrong, is instrumental in leading many of the workshops, masterclasses and concerts in this programme but in order to deliver work on such a large scale we are proud to have an experienced and passionate team of Associate Educators who help us spread the jazz message to every corner of the country.

Read on to find out more about each of the NYJO Associate Educators:


Andrea Vicari

Associate Educators

Andrea Vicari made her mark on the jazz scene both as a pianist and composer.  Alongside her performing career she is a jazz piano professor and senior lecturer at Trinity Laban conservatoire – one of the leading colleges in the UK for jazz.  She’s an inspirational role model for young musicians and maintains a busy performing schedule across the UK and Europe alongside musicians such as Claude Deppa, Steve Waterman, Mornington Lockett and Art Farmer.

This autumn, Andrea will be travelling to Cumbria & Lancashire for NYJO, leading workshops in schools; inspiring young musicians to take part in the NYJO Regional Academies in the North West.





Peter Edwards

Associate Educators

Peter Edwards  is a pianist, composer and musical director. He is the 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards ‘Newcomer of the year’ and was among the nominees for the 2015 Jazz FM ‘Breakthrough Artist’ award. He works with acclaimed artists Mica Paris and Zara McFarlane, directs the Nu Civilisation Orchestra and is a 2017 New Music Biennial commissioned composer.

Peter graduated with a Masters in Jazz from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2009. Participation in the Tomorrowʼs Warriors young artist development programme gave him the opportunity to sharpen his performance and compositional skills under the guidance of Gary Crosby OBE and is now the leader of their NuCivilisation Orchestra.



Pete Letanka

Associate Educators

Pete Letanka is a professional jazz pianist, composer and educator. He studied Jazz and contemporary music at Leeds College of Music, where he won a scholarship to spend a year studying under (Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition winner) Mark Polishook at the University of Maine, USA. He graduated in 1997 with a 1st class BA (hons) and the Leeds University Armes award for the highest mark in the year.

As a composer, Pete has been collaborated with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Jazz at Lincoln Centre and Royal Opera House, alongside many others.  He’s also in demand as a performer and regularly seen gracing the stages for jazz clubs and concerts hall across Europe.  He is passionate about inspiring young people to find new confidence through composition and improvisation and has led projects in schools, arts centres and prisons across the UK as well as abroad in South Africa, India, Lebanon, Spain and Portugal.

Pete has worked with NYJO for many years, and is our resident expert on jazz and improvisation in primary schools.  This term he has taken the jazz message to schools in Ealing and Wiltshire as well as leading training days for NYJO’s young aspiring educators.


Simon Purcell

Associate Educators

Simon Purcell is one of Britain’s most accomplished contemporary jazz pianists. A graduate of Trinity College of Music, he has performed both as leader and sideman with amongst others – Red Rodney, Kenny Wheeler, Eddie Henderson, Stan Sulzmann, Jean Tousaint, Valerie Ponomarev, Dale Barlow, Gene Calderazzo, Julian Arguelles, Julian Siegel, Conrad Erwig, and Steve Williamson.

Head of Jazz at Trinity Laban Conservatoire between 2005-2017 and member of the Pop and Jazz Steering Group for the Association of European Conservatoires between 2008-2018, Simon is a committed educationalist, the author of published educational research and a highly-respected teacher. He has recently stepped down from these positions in order to realign his attention towards working with (mentoring) teachers and to return to the performing arena.




Vij Prakash

Associate Educators

Vij studied the trombone at Chetham’s School of Music before going to Cambridge University to study music. Since moving to London and graduating from the Guildhall School of Music’s Jazz Masters’ Course, Vij was offered the Jazz Fellowship post there.  Through his own musical projects Vijay has performed at an array of prestigious venues and festivals around the world, including The North Sea Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Montreux Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, Budapest Jazz Club and Havana Jazz Club.  As an educator, Vij runs workshops for The Barbican Centre, Spitalfields Music, London Music Masters, NYJO, Cambridge Jazz Festival, Band in a Day and Share-Music Southwest amongst others.