NYJO Jazz Messengers 2022

July 19, 2022

We believe that playing an instrument can be a valuable part of many young people’s lives: whether they’re playing just for fun, to express themselves or because their ambition is to be a professional musician. It can take a lot of music lessons – at school, privately or through a music hub – to become proficient on an instrument.  At NYJO, we work with lots of very talented young musicians who were lucky enough to be offered opportunities to learn an instrument as a teenager (and often much younger). Many young people miss out on those opportunities and think that if you didn’t learn an instrument in primary school, then it’s too late to start learning in secondary school. We don’t think it’s ever too late to enjoy playing an instrument, whether your instrument is your voice, or you make music digitally, we love to see young people get involved in music-making!



In July 2022, NYJO Learning embarked on a Greenwich Jazz Messengers Schools’ Tour. Through this tour, we aimed to inspire young people to take up an instrument and encourage them to get involved in extra-curricular music-making. The tour was led by the incredible FLOetic Lara, aka Flo! A spoken word artist, poet, singer and songwriter, Flo blends onomatopoeic phrasing, musical accents and lyrics steeped in honesty, passion and experience, to remind us of the rhythm of historical storytellers. Flo has her own lived experience of adversity – leaving school, leaving home and finding her way back to her power through writing and performing. Flo’s ability to connect with young people across different backgrounds and contexts made her the perfect lead for our Jazz Messengers ensemble.

Alongside her were a brilliant band of NYJO musicians, made up of two of our Emerging Professionals as well as two young musicians who had recently come up through our Under 18s programme. Across four days, this band visited eight schools within the borough of Greenwich: six State secondaries, one hospital school, and one school for young people with Additional Educational Needs. Flo put together a setlist designed to introduce the young people we met across the tour to different styles of jazz, and to see how it intersects with music from other genres and artists that they may be listening to today. Some of the tunes performed by the band included Summertime (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong), My Favourite Things (John Coltrane), Four Women (Nine Simone), and Valerie (Amy Winehouse & Mark Ronson).

In a survey carried out before the start of the tour, 40% of the young people that we visited across the week said that they had never seen live music before. After the tour, 100% of the young people surveyed said that watching the performance had inspired them to learn an instrument. When asked to describe jazz music in one word, their responses included;

‘uplifting’, ‘FUNNN’, ‘exciting’, and ‘amazing’! ‘I liked the players individuality, how we can see their talent whilst they make up their own music. I also like how they don’t only focus on themselves, but also the music around them and how they can play all together’. ‘The music was upbeat and it was very inspiring to learn to be proud to start learning an instrument’!


Following on from the tour, there has been a real desire from the schools for support in providing more opportunities for young people to learn horn instruments. At NYJO Learning, we are really looking forward to nurturing these relationships with schools across our local community and supporting these students to engage in new music-making opportunities. Watch this space to see where the NYJO Jazz Messengers land next! If your school would be interested in working with NYJO to encourage take-up of instrumental lessons, then get in touch today.

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

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