What is a NYJO Regional Academy?

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra wants to ‘level the playing field for jazz education’ so that young musicians from across the UK have equal opportunities to develop their talents.  We’ve been running a Saturday school in London, the NYJO Academy, for decades and musicians who attend often go on to become professional musicians or study jazz at HE level.  Whilst that’s great, we don’t think it’s fair that students in London & SE have an unfair advantage over those in other areas.

So, the Regional Academies were born.  NYJO are teaming up with Music Education Hubs (MEHs) to develop locally-run, nationally-supported regular jazz education activity that teaches young people the balance of skills that every jazz musicians needs – reading, improvisation, aural & ensemble skills. As well as working directly with the young musicians, we offer professional development for local music leaders and bring everyone together annually to share the great music making happening across the country.

Alongside London, we currently have Regional Academy Partners in Wiltshire, Darlington, Cumbria and Lancashire.

NYJO Regional Academies


“The opportunity to work with NYJO to kick start our Jazz development strategy for the whole of Cumbria has been a great experience for all. The young people who have taken part have benefited enormously from working with the NYJO Ambassadors and full NYJO band. They have grown hugely in confidence from working in a sufficiently challenging but supportive and encouraging way.” – Simon Yeo, Cumbria Head of Service

Things like this [NYJO project] don’t generally happen as often as it does in other cities like Manchester… it’s a 40-min drive to access anything jazz-related.” – Participant in previous stand-alone NYJO project in Kendal.

“I think [building jazz progression routes in Darlington is] great because it provides an alternative education and way of learning for young musicians who don’t respond to the grades system. And for those who do, improvising is teaching them to be rounded musicians. As a bass trombonist, I’m not [yet] an improvising musician. However Mark has given me the techniques and confidence to shape the sound of the band and to draw on my musical experience to create a polished and coherent sound.” – Lewis Boreland, Local Music Leader in Darlington, under NYJO training


If you would like further information on how NYJO can set up a regional academy near you, please contact our L&P manager, Claire@nyjo.org.uk


Why have a Regional Academy?

Jazz education infrastructure is patchy in the UK. According to the most recent hubs report, of the 16,809 ensembles supported or delivered by the music education hubs (MEHs), 1,386 are classed as jazz bands. Pressure on schools’ music budgets means it is hard for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds or from rurally isolated areas (far from MEH provision) to progress as musicians. Working in partnership with the MEHs to solve the problem of patchy jazz infrastructure is essential, as they are the bodies responsible for the musical education of every young person in their constituency.

Lack of access to jazz education in these national ‘cold-spots’ is contributing to a startling lack of geographical diversity in the jazz industry.

NYJO Regional Academies


In order to diversify the jazz industry, we have to focus our work on building progression routes from the earliest stages of jazz development nationwide. Given the 8-10-year lead time from beginner to professional musician, it is important that we act now to sow the seeds for a more diverse jazz industry in 2026 and beyond.

If you would like further information on how NYJO can set up a regional academy near you, please contact our L&P manager, Claire@nyjo.org.uk