NYJO in Leicester: Second Line

February 2, 2024

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.

Lucy-Anne (EP quote)

“Since joining NYJO, I’m so much more confident as a performer. Especially in terms of being able to entertain and keep the crowd engaged with you. It’s really nice to be able to feel that difference.” 

Lucy-Anne, NYJO Emerging Professional (Vocals)

Georgia (EP quote)

“It’s hard to just learn this music in the practice room but being immersed in the music at NYJO is a great environment to really push my playing. ” 

Georgia Ayew, NYJO Emerging Professional (Drums)

Sam Eastmond (MD quote)

"Giving them space to create whatever they wanted, without setting parameters of idiom or style helped them to conceptualise how they could bring these new concepts into their work without scaring them off, or mystifying the process."

Sam Eastmond, NYJO Educator

Jazzwise quote

"NYJO has never been conformist, never hewing to one particular line, never known for fawning replications and very deliberately these days a vehicle for new possibilities."

Jazzwise Magazine

Lydia (EP quote)

"The past year has been an absolutely incredible experience, pushing me way out of my comfort zone into playing with some of the greatest young jazz players of my generation and getting to call them my colleagues and friends has been beyond inspiring, and also an obscene amount of fun!"

Lydia Cochrane, NYJO Emerging Professional (Saxophone)

Anna (Learning national quote)

"[The NYJO residential in Cumbria] helped me to make friends with other young musicians. I enjoy playing a lot more and I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished. I feel more confident now. I have learnt different ways of coming up with solid melodies and also a little bit on harmonies. I think it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had."

Anna, NYJO Learning Widening Access participant

Briony (Learning U18s quote)

"I’ve felt very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing musicians, and I think that the environment at NYJO – which has fostered creativity and improvisation – has allowed my confidence and musical ideas to grow."

Briony, NYJO Under 18s

Oscar (Learning U18s quote)

"I think I’ve progressed a lot in my piano-playing. NYJO has helped me to flourish and really enjoy it. I’ve really enjoyed being engrossed in a high level of playing and learning things in a hands-on-way. I also like the diversity of perspectives and abilities of all the players and teachers which enables me to try things I might not normally."

Oscar, NYJO Under 18s

Jennie (Learning U18s quote)

"NYJO has got me listening to more jazz and learning more changes. It has also helped with working as a band. I’ve really enjoyed the free jazz, learning by ear, the people, and the atmosphere."

Jennie, NYJO Under 18s

Leah-Anais (Learning U18s quote)

"I love the people at NYJO. Everyone here is so encouraging and lovely and it makes the experience worthwhile. Though I have fun I’m still learning on the way which makes me feel productive too."

Leah-Anais, NYJO Under 18s

Support us

Support the future of jazz

Can you help us nurture a nation of young jazz musicians?

Join our passionate community of Friends, grant-making organisations or corporate sponsors at a level that suits you and share your love of jazz with the next generation.