Residential: it’s all over!

The last report from the front line of our Heatree Residential of 2018…

We like to provide a varied educational experience at our annual residential. Yes, of course, the focus is on the music, but music is so much more than just playing dots on the page or inventing new things to say in improvised solos. Making new friendships, developing confidence, and learning new skills are all part of the experience.

After my previous post, we cooked marshmallows and toast around a magnificent camp fire (thanks Graham and Peter!), had a very entertaining and impressive session in modern jazz dance (with each band playing for the other’s dance), had final rehearsals, and gave end-of-course performances to parents.

The end results? A pile of pieces rehearsed, solos tried out, new skills learnt, new friendships formed, and two impressive bands with distinct identities, a combination of their individual and group chemistries.

Massive thanks to everyone involved: Heatree and its staff, tutors Graham, Matt, Ben and Alex, DYJO Association volunteers in particular Nic, Maria, Hannah and Peter, and, most importantly, players and parents: for all of us who work with DYJO, we do it because of the absolute delight of helping young people learn and grow together through music, and without those lovely young people, there wouldn’t be a Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Next up, after one more rehearsal, will be our annual opening concert at the Teignmouth Jazz Festival, on Friday 16 November. Watch this space for details: we hope to see you there!

Residential, Day 2

I was slightly amused re-reading yesterday’s blog entry, where I said that the first day of the residential is a jam-packed one, as if this is different from other days here. Ha, of course not – every day here with DYJO is jam-packed! Not least today…

First off: the Learning Thing. This is all about peer-to-peer learning, and being self-reliant on how to achieve great results. The players go off in their sections (saxes, trumpets, trombones, and rhythm), and sort out their separate parts. Then we split the players into two mixed bands (each a mix of DYJO1 & DYJO2) who rehearse for about 40 minutes, and then perform the end result to everyone else, including us tutors (Graham, Alex, Ben, Matt and me). The tutors have the unenviable task of trying to pick a winner from the two bands (named as ‘Ant’ and Dec’ this year). Hot off the press: Dec narrowly won this year, with impressive tightness of ensemble, effective dynamics and great solos.

After a post-lunch rehearsal session, with DYJO2 all together, and DYJO1 in sectionals, it was then time for this year’s small-band Ambassadors to meet for the first time with Ben, while everyone else had their sense of rhythm and pulse challenged by Matt, Alex & Graham in rhythm & clapping games.

Enough for a day? Not for DYJO!

After a lovely cooked supper from the Heatree kitchen (no-one will go hungry here!), we will have short table tennis and basketball competitions, and to end the evening a campfire. Maybe Dartmoor will be resonating to a jazz version of Kumbayah later…

DYJO at Heatree 2018

Here we are again, at the end of the October half term, for our annual DYJO Residential, with 33 young musicians who have come to the wonderful Heatree near Manaton on Dartmoor, with a hunger to learn more about jazz. As well as the all young players here, we’ve got five tutors and five DYJO Association helpers to make sure that all goes according to plan!

The first day is always a jam-packed one, with an early arrival & registration, followed by intensive full and sectional rehearsals, and an evening jam. We’ll all be ready to collapse into our beds by the end of the evening. Meanwhile the music plays on… here are a couple of pictures of tonight’s jam… more news and pictures tomorrow, which starts with the traditional, snappily titled, Learning Thing!