NYJO Learning: half-term project with Steam Down

April 25, 2024

In February this year, we had the absolute pleasure of hosting Steam Down at our Woolwich Works home for a very special half-term project. The 3-days of workshops were an opportunity for NYJO Under-18 musicians to spend time making music together, under the brilliant guidance of some of the most exciting London jazz musicians. The original compositions that came out of these days (which you can watch below) show how a vibrant learning environment, with the right support and encouragement, brings out the best of young musicians, allowing them to create and express themselves in such inspiring ways.


I wanted them to get an idea of creating for themselves. Giving them the tools to start creating their own music and have like a good basic foundation […] And the second thing would be about giving them tools and ways to collaborate together. So if you’ve got different instruments, how can you work on the piece together and everybody get their say in the group.

Ahnansé, Steam Down founder and project lead



Steam Down is a thriving artist collective, music community, and weekly event in South East London. The group was founded by multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Ahnansé in 2017, initially created to provide a meeting-ground for London-based musicians and audiences to connect through the unique experience of live improvised music. Since then, it has evolved into a weekly event where Steam Down artists and guests come together to generate spontaneous sonic soundscapes reflecting their lives in the city.



Alongside Steam Down’s reps and session leads Ahnansé, Shantéh, and Nadav Schneerson, the half-term project was supported by three NYJO Emerging Professional musicians – Amelia Wilding, Fee Buckton and Jared Meade – who did a fantastic job supporting both the lead artistic team and the young musicians throughout.


I was really keen to be involved in this opportunity because I know first-hand the impact Steam Down had on me when I was younger and how much it encouraged me to want to play with other people in a creative and improvised environment.

Amelia Wilding, NYJO EP

I have been a fan of Steam Down for many years, and their music has inspired my own compositions, as well as influenced the way I perform on stage. They were the first band I ever saw live when I came to uni, and I was instantly excited to start my own band and hopefully inspire other people, in the way that they inspired me.

Fee Buckton, NYJO EP


During the course of the 3 days, the NYJO Learning team took the young participants to Steam Down Weekly (currently being hosted at Peckham Levels) to give them the opportunity to experience the environment in which Steam Down create their signature distinctive sounds for the first time. This helped provide some valuable context into how the techniques and skills they were learning about are applied in practice, and to see how the band engaged with each other and the audience onstage.

It was great to see the ideas we were working on in the week being used live at Steam Down Weekly.

Taylor, NYJO Under 18 and Project Participant


The project finished with a showcase at Woolwich Works, where the young musicians performed their original work to an audience of their friends and family. You can watch their brilliant final showcases here and here.

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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