University of Leicester eBulletin

The University of Leicester and All That Jazz!

June 2002
No 123

The University of Leicester is set to 'jazz-up' education for hundreds of children in Leicester's schools through an innovative new music programme.

An exciting Jazz Education outreach project is being delivered in four Leicestershire schools, thanks to funding totalling £31,320 from the National Foundation for Youth Music and East Midlands Arts Board, given to the University's Richard Attenborough Centre.

Led by Leicester-born international Steinway artist, jazz pianist and composer Richard Fairhurst, the project's innovative approach provides jazz education that is sustainable. "So often schemes are delivered on a 'one off basis' leaving participants with a lack of direction", explains Richard.

An outstanding musician himself, achieving an amazing profile at a young age, Richard has been commissioned to compose music in a wide variety of contexts. His debut CD 'The Hungry Ants' (Babel BDV 9504), released in 1996, won the Perrier Jazz Awards in February 1998. As part of the project he is to write some new music for each of the schools taking part: Leicester Grammar School, Thomas Estley Community College, Guthlaxton College and John Cleveland College.

"What I'm doing on this course is giving the students who take part the chance to learn more about improvising and to develop their confidence and ability in this area of music" says Richard. "Passing on the right vocabulary is really important as most schools would claim to perform jazz when in fact it is just a 'jazzy sound' that is being created. In fact, most solos are actually written out of that which has nothing to do with what jazz is about: jazz is about improvising, creating your own melodies at the spur of the moment."

There are some very specialist skills being taught on the course, consisting of regular two-hour workshops. The project is also intended to bridge the gap between the graded exams, offered by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and a pathway to progression towards entry on Conservatoire or University courses in jazz.

A showcase to demonstrate 'work in progress' is scheduled for June 14, 2002 at 7pm in the University's Richard Attenborough Centre. This concert will be a unique opportunity for students to perform the ideas they are working on within the course for real. "Giving a live performance is not just about playing well but about communicating to an audience. I want to build a new audience of all ages who will enjoy the performance of Jazz".

"The course is going really well at the moment and I feel it has a fantastic momentum - I'm lucky to be working with some really committed students who are passionate about discovering more about the music. This is what it's all about: enjoyment and pleasure through playing Jazz and expressing yourself through improvisation!" explains Richard Fairhurst.

Philip Herbert, Organising Tutor for Music at the Richard Attenborough Centre, said: "This is a great opportunity for students of all abilities to develop skills in this musical area. So much more provision could be made for jazz education in schools in this country.

"Another note of innovation in this project is that Richard Fairhurst has been commissioned to write some new music for each of the four schools participating in this project. There will be an opportunity to hear the schools perform in two showcases which demonstrate their level of development throughout this project, in terms of performance ability."

The Richard Attenborough Centre, part of the University of Leicester's Institute of Lifelong Learning, provides an exciting and diverse programme of arts education to a wide audience.

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact the Philip Herbert on 0116 252 2455.

PHOTOCALL:  Friday 14th June 2002 at 7pm at the University of Leicesterís Richard Attenborough Centre

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Last updated: June 2002
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