Yamaha partnerships provide many schools and music services with access to top-quality instruments with minimal capital expenditure. Host schools can then provide Yamaha courses outside school hours for their local community and the shared income covers operational costs for both Yamaha and the school. An alternative business model is also available, which allows schools to generate profits to help fund their music departments, if that is their preferred option.
Of course, during the school day, the quality of the Yamaha instruments also adds greatly to the quality of learning within the curriculum.
Yamaha also currently provides highly effective, progressive whole-class primary school programmes for keyboards and drums. Guitar and vocal content is to become available later this year. Our pioneering programme with Sandwell Youth Music now sees over 800 students learning keyboards across 14 Sandwell primary schools. Teachers and heads experienced a huge up-turn in interest in music making when the scheme was introduced in 2008. They have noted that the scheme has seen pupils developing much-improved social skills, behaviour and learning attitudes.
In 2011 Yamaha Music Europe GmbH UK will be running two major projects involving the wonderful Yamaha Silent Strings. These are skeleton electric violins, violas, cellos and double basses and are to their acoustic strings counterparts what the electric guitar is to the acoustic guitar.
One project is with the Hallé Orchestra, based in Manchester, which will run a live performance workshop programme with schools in Oldham and Burnley over the first half of 2011. This project will involve an electric string quintet - two violins, viola, cello and double bass - with backline amplification and digital effects pedals, to control the sound and create something that is distinct from the acoustic sound.
The projects will involve performance from young string players as well as from members of the Hallé, with works specially written by the Hallé's Steve Pickett and Yamaha's Bill C Martin.
A second project is a national electric strings composing project, in partnership with the Bournemouth Orchestras and a string quartet made up of players from their their contemporary ensemble, Kokoro. The competition, whose details will be announced in Spring 2011, aims to encourage composers between 16 and 23 to explore the creative and sonic possibilities of electric strings. Yamaha's Bill C Martin, decribed the idea of the project as "the R&D for tomorrow's classical music. We want people to approach this with a sense of excitement, danger, creativity, humour, risk, and a general awareness of how cool and exciting it is when they are exploring something genuinely new!"
The project is also designed to re-stimulate the enthusiasm of any string players whose interest may be waning a little. But rather than wanting them all to sell their acoustic instruments and play electric ones instead, the idea is to broaden and extend their opportunities and reportoire.
With contemporary classical music remaining a difficult-to-teach part of the music curriculum, particularly in terms of its perceived inaccessibility, this project will provide participants and their teachers with ways of thinking about and approaching new music, which go way beyond one's initial emotional responses - ie whether one likes the music or not. Instead judgement is suspended in order to give composers and performers the chance to truly explore new ideas before value judgements close the idea down.
From the video entries, six finalists will be selected, whose compositions will be performed by Kokoro in early 2012. A distinguished judging panel will then choose two winners, who will receive Yamaha prizes and second performance by Kokoro.
More details will follow on the Yamaha Education Info website in early 2011.
As part of their prizes awarded at the 2010 finals of the first Yamaha Jazz Experience competition held at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in May 2010, the three winners of the competition were each awarded a gig at a top London jazz venue, thanks to the generous support of the Jazz Experience programme's venue partners.
The under-17 winners, 'Cheltenham 8', an eight-piece ensemble from Dumfries directed by Christine Barbour, who leads the Dumfries youth jazz group, played to a packed house at the Bull's Head jazz club in Barnes, pictured above at the gig in south-west London, in September.
On Sunday 17 October at 1pm, the under-15 winners, 'Blue Shift', from the Junior Guildhall School of Music & Drama, will play at the 606 club in Chelsea, supported by one of the under-19 Jazz Experience runners-up, 'Friendly Bacteria', also from Junior Guildhall.
The winning ensemble in the under-19 category, 'Tomorrow's Warriors Biggish Band' will play at Ronnie Scott's to celebrate its Jazz Experience win, supporting leading jazz vocalise exponent John Hendricks, from 7:15pm on Saturday 20 November.
For further information on the next Yamaha Jazz Experience scheme, which will incorporate a teacher improvising workshop tour in 2011 and a competition in 2012, more information can be found on the Yamaha education website.
I'm delighted to announce the nine ensembles shortlisted to take part in the Yamaha Jazz Experience competition finals, hosted by Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 1 May 2010. Jazz FM broadcaster Helen Mayhew joined leading jazz educator Richard Michael and me, Yamaha's education liaison manager, Bill C Martin, to make the selection at Yamaha UK headquarters in early March.
The finalists for each category (ages as on 1 September 2009):
11 & under 15: Blue Lizard (Manchester Music Service); Pimlico Junior Jazz (Pimlico Academy); Blue Shift (Guildhall School of Music & Drama Junior Department)
11 & under 17: St Ignatius Jazz (St Ignatius College, Enfield); Dumfries Youth Jazz Group (Dumfries Youth Jazz); Time Team (Northampton Music & Performing Arts Service)
11 & under 19: Tomorrow's Warriors Biggish Band (Tomorrow's Warriors, London); Friendly Bacteria (GSMD Junior Department, London); Chetham's Jazz Sextet (Chetham's School of Music, Manchester)
Jazz ensembles from all over the UK - from Shetland in the north of Scotland, down to Devon on England's south-west peninsula - entered ensembles for the competition, with a chance to win gigs at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott's, The 606 Club and The Bull's Head Jazz Club in south-west London on 1 May 2010, along with a total of £9,000 worth of Yamaha prizes for their school, college or community centres.
To enter, participants had to set up a jazz ensemble comprising piano (or keyboard/vibes), bass, drums and optionally up to five additional performers. They had to prepare a blues and either a jazz standard or a piece of their own choosing, with impro at its heart, video their best performance of them and send them to Yamaha them to Yamaha.
Then in early March 2010 two of the distinguished Yamaha Jazz Experience judges, Helen Mayhew (jazz broadcaster, Jazz FM) and Richard Michael (2009 Parliamentary Jazz 'Jazz Educator' award winner and Yamaha Jazz Experience workshop leader), joined Yamaha's Bill C Martin for the difficult job of choosing only nine ensembles to take part in the competition finals in Cheltenham.
Helen, Richard and I had a fantastic time watching and listening to the wonderful video entries, from every conceivable kind of educational and music institution and from all over the UK. I was particularly pleased to hear entries from some of those teachers new to jazz who took part in our Jazz Experience workshops in 2009, and who have clearly moved their own skills on tremendously. We were stunned by the overall quality of musicianship in the entries, which made it very difficult to choose only nine finalists! We want to thank all the teachers and music leaders who have clearly put in so much work with their ensembles and, even if they haven't got through to the finals on this occasion, they may be consoled to know that Helen has noted names and will be on the lookout for emerging new jazz stars, no doubt to feature on her Jazz FM programme, 'The Yamaha Jazz Jam', in the future!"
On 1 May the nine finalists will perform before a distinguished judging panel of: Julian Joseph (internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and Jazz Experience workshop leader), Andrea Vicari (jazz professor at Trinity College of Music, professional jazz musician with Andrea Vicari Trio, director of Dordogne Jazz Summer School and Jazz Experience workshop leader), Liane Carroll (inspirational jazz singer, winner of 2008 Parliamentary Jazz 'Musician of the Year' award winner), Helen Mayhew (jazz broadcaster, Jazz FM), Peter Ind (Jazz Experience patron and legendary jazz double bass player) and inspirational jazz educator Richard Michael.
The judges will announce the winners at the event.
We would like to thank the Yamaha Jazz Experience venue partners, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott's, the 606 Club and the Bull's Head Jazz Club in London. We wish all the finalists the greatest success.
I had a wonderful day yesterday with Jazz Experience's Richard Michael and Jazz FM broadcaster, Helen Mayhew. (A big thank-you to you both.) Our task for the day was to shortlist the entries down to nine ensembles - three under-15s, three under-17s and three under-19s - who will then go through to the Jazz Experience finals, kindly hosted by Cheltenham Jazz Festival, on 1 May 2010.
The whole point of Jazz Experience was:
The competition was open to young people under-19 on 1 September 2009 from any institution or organisation within the UK. We were staggered by the very high quality of entries for the competition, which came from schools, music services, community organisations, regional youth jazz groups, conservatoire junior departments and venues. We had entries from as far north as the Shetlands to the deep south-west of England. Many of the performances were approaching a professional standard, which has been very exciting (and which Helen Mayhew has noted with particular interest, for possible future Jazz FM programmes!).
The preliminary judging panel has now made its selection of the nine finalist ensembles, who must now confirm their availability to attend the finalists' event in May, before we can announce them in mid-March. We are delighted that we have such a wonderful geographic spread, as well as ensembles from all kinds of institutions.
During the judging, we were looking for evidence of musicality, good internal and external communication and creativity. Those ensembles which exhibited all these qualities strongly are the ones we've chosen for the finals. However we were struck by some highly accomplished and talented performances by individual musicians or maybe the rhythm section in some of the ensembles. These are highly talented musicians and we hope they take this further, even if, on this occasion, their ensembles haven't made it to the finals.
We will be contacting all the ensembles and will provide feedback where appropriate. You are all stars! I hope to visit some of the ensembles which were of very high quality but who were pipped at the post on the day - which is particularly true in the under-19 category. I want to encourage and support these ensembles and their musicians to continue their studies and will be able to share our feedback with them in due course, which I hope they'll find helpful.
The UK has a much-deserved world-class reputation for music education and our conservatoires offering full-time jazz degree courses (which Yamaha supports through its parliamentary jazz scholarships) help nurture some of the UK's most gifted and talented young jazz musicians. We're delighted that we've had outstanding entries from several of the conservatoire junior departments. But in our finals, these sit alongside equally strong entries from ordinary schools, specialist schools, music services and community music organisations too.
Everyone who has taken part in our competition will have won: they have worked hard to gain new experiences, new learning, maybe new friends and new confidence as performers. We're very proud of all of them - whether they are new to jazz and improvising or more seasoned performers. My experience is that music - and in particular improvising - provides us with a lifelong journey, which all those who sing, play or compose are on. We may be at the beginning of the journey or much further along the road. The joyous thing is that none of us ever gets to the final destination. So there's no end to what we can learn from this, no matter how long we've been on the journey.
But all of us who travel the road together will improve as musicians and grow as human beings. This is a powerful testament to the fact that music education in the UK is very strong and highly effective. It just works! I would like to thank all the teachers and music leaders whose passion, inspiration and plain hard work demonstrate this so clearly and continue to enrich the lives of their young people.
Bill C Martin
Education liaison manager, Yamaha Music UK
Following the success of the acclaimed Yamaha Jazz Experience teacher improvising workshops in March and April 2009, we are excited to announce the launch of the second phase of Jazz Experience: a national UK-wide jazz ensemble improvising competition for musicians aged 11-18.
Yamaha prizes and gigs at Ronnie Scott's and the 606 jazz clubs will be awarded for the 3 winning ensembles at the finalists' event at Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 1 May 2010. Judges will include Liane Carroll, Peter Ind, Julian Joseph, Helen Mayhew, Richard Michael and Andrea Vicari.
Each ensemble should prepare a blues and a piece of their own choosing, featuring real improvising. The judges are looking for good musicianship, creativity, communication and rapport. So why not have a go? If you are in the 11-18 age group, based in the UK, your school, college or other organisation can enter any jazz ensembles that it coaches. You can read the Jazz Experience competition 2009-2010 details for yourself and send the link to your teacher, music leader or the person who coaches your ensemble.
If you are a music leader, teacher or someone who coaches or who is about to start a jazz ensemble, this competition is made for you! Entries must come from you, as the person who coaches the ensemble, and you may be from a school, college, arts or community centre, music club, music service, local or regional youth jazz orchestra, etc. Read all about the Jazz Experience competition 2009-2010 details and get working with your ensemble. We look forward to seeing and hearing you play!
Yesterday I visited a superb National Youth Jazz Collective (NYJC) workshop in Huddersfield which is part of a 4-weekend jazz workshop series for young people, also running in Kendal, Rotherham, Norfolk and Devon. Led by the visionary jazz composer/educator, Issie Barratt, the project uses some of the UK's top jazz musicians to provide coaching and inspiration which is giving the targeted young players the skills and confidence to enjoy playing a broad range of jazz and improvise with their peers.
One of the sessions I dropped in on yesterday involved players of varying abilities being coached through a very funky chord sequence (reminiscent of Miles Davis' 'So What?' from his 1959 'Kind Of Blue' album) where 8-bar sections over a single chord enabled new improvisers to find their way around the harmonic and scalic terrain with the minimum of stress and in a non-competitive, safe environment. Similar activities were being led skilfully by NYJC's jazz educators throughout the day. Though they each brought their own workshop styles and a range of different starting points, they very clearly shared the same, simple, common objective: to enable each of the young musicians to contribute creatively in an ensemble and enjoy the journey!
What NYJC is not trying to do is to 'convert' everyone to the jazz religion. What they are about is giving young people the creative skills, through improvising, which will liberate their personal expression and creativity. The fact that jazz is the playground on which this happens will no doubt provide a positive first encounter with the genre to most of the learners who attend the workshops. But the skills that jazz improvisers learn transcend musical genres and this hands the control over their musical destiny to the young people themselves.
As our own Yamaha Jazz Experience project gathers momentum, we hope to be able to point our participants - both the young musicans and their teachers - to the activities of the likes of NYJC, for further skill development and, arguably more importantly, the simple joy of inventing music and performing with other musicians, regardless of their skill levels or experience.
NYJC is still a young organisation but I believe that, through its planned annual 5-centre workshop series and summer school for young people, it is set to make a powerful impact on young musicians' lives. All power to them, I say!
I had the privilege to attend the first Music for Youth (MfY) Schools' Prom concerts directed by MfY's new chief executive, Lincoln Abbotts, at London's Royal Albert Hall on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday this week. We were treated to some wonderful performances, ranging from orchestral, wind and brass band, rock, rap, folk, jazz and world music - all delivered with equal passion and ownership by children from primary and secondary schools across the UK.
As a long-time supporter of MfY Yamaha funds awards for their National Festival, held in Birmingham every July, across 5 different genres, and it was great to see some of the same performers taking part in the Schools' Prom, the climax to MfY's year.
As the contributor of the major prize fund for the inspiring Classic FM Music Teacher Of The Year Award, we were delighted to be present because the six winning teachers were announced at the Schools' Proms - two teachers on each of the three nights. They are exceptional people who stand out from the crowd and truly earned their recognition.
Music For Youth is also exceptional - providing major national performance opportunities for young people and bringing together some of the countries best young talent.
On the second night Yamaha had a box to which we'd invited some of the exceptional musicians we've been fortunate enough to work with - including some of the UK's best jazz musicians and educators. As the performers on stage whipped the audience into a clapping frenzy I noticed (and probably so did the surrounding audience members) that our box was the one clapping on the 2nd and 4th beats of the bar, while most others were clapping on the more conventional 1 and 3! I was reminded of a strapline used by my good friend, session drummer Ralph Salmins, on his MySpace page: "I'm a 2 and 4 guy in a 1 and 3 world"! What a great way to describe not only some pretty funky rhythms but also the kind of people who work hard to be exceptional and stand out from the crowd. Music For Youth gave us a real treat of "2 and 4" guys that I will certainly remember for a long time.
The Music For Youth 2008 Festival is currently in full swing and, to represent Yamaha's broad range of instruments and equipment, we've been keen to support the MfY Festival with awards for: 1) Urban, Rock & Pop, 2) Jazz, 3) Wind Band, 4) Brass Band and 5) Orchestra.
Our aim is to help engage more people in music making and to support educators in their efforts to make this experience life enhancing and even life changing for their young people. We are delighted if this support contributes in some small way.
I attended the Urban, Rock & Pop event yesterday and heard and saw 12 fantastic young bands, drawn from British secondary schools. The standard was tremendously high and the judges commented frequently on the commitment and strength of performance of all the bands that took part. Soul and Blues were particularly well represented, alongside punk, metal and pop.
Congratulations to MfY on continuing to extend their work in the Rock music area and to help make every child's music really matter.
Entries are now being sought from 14-19 year-old songwriters for the 2008 Make It Break it songwriting awards. The MIBIs, run by the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and Yamaha Music, are unique in providing a high profile professional platform to promote outstanding material from some of the UK's hottest, innovative, up coming writers.
With a panel of judges chaired by Coldplay's Chris Martin and including broadcaster Mark Radcliffe, producer Steve Levine and The Wombats, and with prizes for both the writers and their schools and colleges, The MIBIs provide a fantastic opportunity to get original songs heard and championed by leading music industry big hitters.
As well as receiving thousands of pounds worth of musical equipment, this year’s winners will be offered recording sessions in the world famous Parr Street recording studios, and a November showcase gig in the Paul McCartney auditorium at LIPA. All short-listed finalists will also be invited to an intensive 3-day training programme where they will be tutored in songwriting, marketing, production and performance, by some of the country’s leading practitioners.
Entries should be submitted by June 30th and full details will be available from www.makeitbreakit.org. The site also provides hints and tips from the judges and material from previous winners.
Click here for the MIBI MySpace profile.