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.
With the revisions to music in the National Curriculum at KS3 in England & Wales - which kick in in September 2008 - there is increased emphasis on demonstrable skills as an outcome. Improvisation continues to be any area that teachers request help with and which also gets a special mention in the new curriculum document.
Yamaha is now developing ideas for some wide-ranging activities specifically for secondary level. One possible project would be based around the idea of a jazz piano trio or a rhythm section. Students (from around grade 4 standard and higher) and teachers would be able to attend workshops to kick-start work in this exciting but challenging area, with a national event to follow.
If this is something that would interest you as a project in your school, please tell us here and explain what you would like to get from it, both for your personal development and for your pupils and state which age groups you think would benefit most from it.