course outline

The aim of this course is to provide an opportunity for players to develop their band related skills and to showcase their progress through periodic concerts. Specifically, the aim is to encourage the development of some or all of the following:

  • The ability to work with other musicians in combo/big band settings
  • Sectional playing
  • Listening skills
  • Reading Skills
  • communication skills
  • Timing and rhythm skills
  • Relevant theoretical knowledge and its practical application
  • Improvisational skills - includes soloing, comping...
  • Stylistic awareness and its practical application: Popular Music styles which includes Jazz, Blues, Latin, Rock and Funk...
  • Technical skills including articulations

The course is currently aimed at players who have enough technical ability on their instrument (equivalent to Grade 3 minimum) but would like to develop skills, knowledge and experience in some or all of the areas outlined above. Anyone aged 12 - 70+ is eligible to apply to join the course.  For instance, the course will enable 'horn' players from either Classical or Brass Band backgrounds to make a transition to the world of Popular music; which includes the styles already mentioned. In addition to 'horn' players, the course is on offer to 'rhythm' section instruments such as guitar, keyboard, bass, drum kit and percussion.

Each course date (Saturday or Sunday depending on the location) consists of 2 x 3 hour blocks: an AM block (9.30 - 12.30) and PM block (1.30 - 4.30). The AM block uses the combo format to achieve its aims; with particular emphasis on developing improvisational skills around lead sheets drawn from the Popular music repertoire. The PM block uses the big band/large ensemble format to achieve its aims; with particular emphasis on sectional playing and improvisation within the context of soloing and the rhythm section instruments. With respect to both blocks, the overall aim is to develop a repertoire at both levels of band that can be performed at concerts.

Prospective students may apply to join either the AM or PM block or both. 

Course dates are arranged into terms; with each term consisting of 10 course dates.  Note that course dates are not necessarily consecutive weekends and that each term spreads out across 3 -  4 months. Course dates are announced in good time ahead of the start of any given term.

The course should be considered open-ended in the sense that there is no conclusion and no timescale for how long a student/player can stay with us. A student may join any given term and leave at the end of any given term. However, it is hoped that what is offered can continue to match a player's aspirations indefinitely.

Additional support is offered to all course students in two forms: discounted lessons (by private arrangement) outside of the course dates (offline and/or online); and also website resources.