Our Saturday Story

July 19, 2022

NYJO Under 18s is designed to support young people to progress musically, make new friends, and develop key skills as young musicians. Whether you are interested in Big Band music, vocal work, finding out more about improvisation, or developing within small ensembles, there is something for you to get involved in on a Saturday at Woolwich Works!

At NYJO Under 18s we are committed to ensuring that every student is treated with respect regardless of their musical ability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, race, class, or disability. We respect our young musicians, and in turn we expect them to always show respect to their fellow players and staff. Our young musicians are encouraged to support others in achieving their musical goals. We provide a safe, fun, non-judgmental environment where everyone can be themselves, feel welcome and respected.

Youth Voice is at the heart of the work that we do here. Through our Youth Forum, ‘Bring you own Charts’ days, or our jams, there are plenty of opportunities for our young musicians to have their voice heard and to help shape the future direction of NYJO:

The NYJO Youth Forum is a great idea and it’s nice to feel like the NYJO community is accountable and listens to us!

Tom, NYJO Student


Our jam sessions are an important part of our Saturday timetable. They are an exciting opportunity for young musicians across our different groups to come together, play, and learn from one another. In 2022, one of NYJO’s brilliant educators FLOetic Lara (Flo) showed our young musicians how to lead a jam session; providing support with how best to hear each other’s ideas, learn from one another, and create a nurturing and positive environment that allows for risk-taking and mistakes to be made. Creating these spaces where our young musicians feel supported and encouraged is crucial to the work that we do through NYJO Learning;

I feel so much more comfortable soloing and improvising than I did when I started, and this is largely down to the comfortable space to try.

Briony, NYJO Student


Another important way that we support our young musicians’ learning is through a programme of masterclasses and events, which allow our young people to hear from different educators and gain new skills and experience. Throughout 2022, we have had some brilliant guest speakers come in with a focus on supporting our young musicians’ mental health and wellbeing. Raphael Clarkson, from the organisation Mindful Music, delivered a very successful masterclass focused around collective/democratic approaches to improvisation and composition. As a group, they used meditative, mindful group improvisation exercises to explore this new way of working and tune into how their emotions impact their music-making. We were also delighted to finish our 2022 Summer term with a seminar delivered by the incredible organisation ‘Things Musicians Don’t Talk About’. This encouraged our young musicians to think about the ways that they can support their own wellbeing and kicked off a fascinating discussion about what needs to change within the music industry as a whole to better support its young players at all levels.

Every term, we ask our young musicians to let us know how they feel we are doing! In 2022, with 1 being ‘not at all’ and 10 as ‘yes, definitely’, we asked our participants whether they felt supported and welcomed within our Saturday programmes. Their mean response was 9.28. We are very proud of all the young people that we work with, and it is an absolute joy to see them every Saturday and watch their progression, enthusiasm, and love of music develop;


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 Student


We are always looking for young people who are keen to get involved with NYJO Under 18s. In particular, we are currently seeking to redress existing balances within the music industry by prioritising applications from young female and non-binary musicians, young people who are from Black, Asian and Diverse Ethnicities, disabled young musicians, and young people who are from low-income backgrounds. Please don’t be put off if you don’t read music confidently yet – you can work entirely by ear in our Under 18s Ensemble, and we can help you to develop your reading skills if you wish. If you would like to find out more about joining any of our Saturday programmes, please 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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