In 2021, we were excited to introduce Woolwich-based holiday projects to NYJO Learning’s programme of work for the first time. These projects are specially designed to engage with young people from our local community around Woolwich Works. We want to welcome less-experienced young musicians alongside more proficient musicians from our Saturday ensembles, to bring players together from different backgrounds and to celebrate the possibilities provided by peer-to-peer learning.
Our first half-term project in October 2021 was led by the brilliant Byron Wallen and Floetic Lara, aka Flo! Flo is a vocalist, performance poet, and music educator who is skilled in singing, scatting, rap, poetry, and spoken word. Alongside Byron Wallen, who is a seminal writer, producer, and jazz trumpeter, our small group of beginner instrumentalists had the chance to learn by ear, experiment with improvisation, and build their own skills within a supportive environment. We were delighted to see our participants grow in confidence over the course of the project, and as it drew to a close many of them commented on the change that they had felt;
this project has ‘helped me to become more confident’.
‘You can do anything with music and I liked the teachers’.
‘This place released my worries. It’s also calming’.
Over three days in February 2022, another group of young musicians got the chance to work with Jas Kayser exploring Cuban rhythms and the influence of female jazz greats; together they experimented with pitch, tempo, and ‘feel’, as well as growing in musical confidence and building new friendships (helped along by many lunchtime Uno sessions!). We were very lucky to have Jas lead this group of young musicians. In 2021, Jas was awarded Jazz FM’s Breakthrough Act of the Year, and with her own music she likes to ‘explore the common grounds between Jazz and Afro-beat’. At the end of the project, we asked our young musicians to describe the experience in three words. Words they chose included, ‘fun’, ‘exciting’, ‘interactive’, ‘friendly’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘community’. We are so pleased to see these comments from our participants exemplify what we would like our holiday projects to be. We hope that they always allow young musicians to feel a sense of ‘community’, meet other people with similar interests, and grow in confidence within an environment that supports and encourages them at all levels and abilities.
We are thrilled to say that our next project will be led by the incredible Blue Lab Beats! We hope that this project will be a meeting place for experienced jazz instrumentalists, digital musicians, rappers, and vocalists. Young musicians will have the chance to come together with their own ideas and develop them as individual and group compositions. We hope that this project will continue the growing tradition of NYJO’s holiday projects; bringing young people together from different backgrounds and with different experiences to explore, create and build as a collective. If you’d like to see how our holiday projects can help your musical development, and want to find out more about getting involved, then please get in touch!