In 2023, the NYJO Learning team partnered with Leicestershire Music Hub on a Second Line project, bringing together young people from different parts of the county and country to play together, and eventually take part in a large-scale community performance.
We wanted to involve young people with some experience playing an instrument, and others just starting out in music, in a project that demonstrated to them the simple joy of playing with others. We wanted to expose the young people to a genre of music that they may be less familiar with – New Orleans-style parade jazz – and to create a major social event with music at its centre, that was both fun, engaging, and inclusive. To that end, NYJO Educator Vij Prakash led workshops across local schools and with the County Big Band in the build-up to the day.
Ensemble membership has taken a decline in Leicestershire (and nationally) and Leicestershire Music were really keen to work with a partner that could inspire young musicians to want to play together. To allow them to realise that they could create their own music, their own groove, as a team and that it can be fun and accessible.
Sarah Barton, Leicestershire Music Hub
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for Friday. It was one of those “this is why I teach” moments. To hear a quite shy trombonist smash a solo was amazing. A great way to improve the musicianship of our students. They’ll have taken a lot from it and I can develop it further.
Head of Music, Leicester Secondary School
To join the final performance, we took the NYJO Under 18s musicians on the train from London to meet and join in with the 11 young musicians who had taken part in the workshops across Leicester. Together, the group performed at multiple locations across the city centre. It was a real highlight to see the two groups of young people engaging with one another, discussing their shared love for music, and experimenting with playing in a new style!
I most enjoyed the chance to meet new people who share that same passion for music as me and playing a different style to what I usually play.
Sophie, Leicester young musician
It was nice as everyone chatted to each other on the way there – it felt like a great team building exercise. It was fun to play with another youth music group and meet other people who also love music.
Isabella, NYJO Under 18s musician
This project was a strong pilot of this new Second Line project with our Widening Access partners. The beauty of the style is that it can make use of whatever instruments a school might have in their cupboards, such as samba and percussion instruments. It is able to bring together schools who may not have large numbers of instrumentalists currently but are keen to widen their young people’s musical aspirations. With the help of the Under 18s from London, we were able to create an exciting, large-scale performance that felt really rewarding and celebratory for the young people who had been involved across Leicester.
The experience we gave to those Leicestershire musicians was huge and they went away feeling proud of their achievements. I am hoping that we can convince some of them to be brave and join the Big Band now. Your musicians from NYJO were also a delight to meet! Partnership working is the best when it is with people like you!
Sarah Barton, Leicestershire Music Hub
We were also excited by the opportunity to tie this performance into the launch of Pedestrian Arts’ Grime Opera in the city centre. The performance was used to develop interest among local people in the Opera, and we were very pleased to be invited back to support its development later in the year, as NYJO Educator Olivia Murphy went to Leicester to support Drum & Brass’ ‘No Bars Orchestra’ as they prepared music for the Opera.
You can watch the brilliant video created from the Grime Opera by Pedestrian Arts:
Overall, we loved launching this new network of partnership working in Leicester. It was brilliant to see these different project strands come together to work towards a central aim of widening musical opportunities for young people across the local area. We very much hope that this is the start of a strong partnership with Leicestershire Music Hub and are also looking forward to exploring the Second Line model that we piloted here in other areas of the country!
This project was part of NYJO Learning’s Widening Access programme – supported by the David Laing and Kirby Laing Foundations – designed to address structural barriers to jazz education across the country.
If you work for a Hub or Music Service and are interested in finding out more about our Widening Access programme, please get in touch today by emailing NYJO’s Head of Learning Vikki Maudave on [email protected], or calling 0330 500 2002.