This summer, 12-year-old Jack Ollier from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan will be returning to RWCMD for the fifth year in a row for the Junior Jazz Summer School, which he describes as one of the highlights of his year.
Jack, who is preparing for Grade 6 exams in clarinet and piano, was just 8 when he attended his first summer school, and had no previous jazz experience. Now it’s something he looks forward to every year.
“It’s always really nice to catch up with friends from last year, and to meet the people who are going to be in my performing group,” says Jack. “We spend the mornings rehearsing in our groups, and learning improvisation techniques. You’re usually with people who are about the same age and ability as you so everyone can join in, even if it’s just using basic rhythms and chords. It’s nice to make music with other people, and you don’t have to worry about doing anything wrong.”
“After lunch, there are different workshops and classes like drumming, piano and samba. The teachers are all brilliant and really friendly. At the end of the week we go up to the Brecon Jazz Festival and put on a concert on the Friday evening. We perform some pieces all together – and then in our smaller groups. It’s brilliant atmosphere.”
Jack’s mother, Jo, also enjoys the experience: “Paula Gardiner and the other teachers are some of the best jazz performers in Wales and are really inspirational teachers. It’s such a relaxed, fun and accessible atmosphere and it’s really helped Jack with his music studies in school too.”
“And there have been some magical moments for me too, from the fabulous concerts in Brecon to impromptu samba performances on the terrace of the Royal Welsh College on a sunny evening, with people in the park stopping to listen.”
The Junior Jazz Summer School is for children and young people aged from 8 to 18. No previous jazz experience is necessary although the College suggests that all students should have reached at least ABRSM Grade 2, or the equivalent standard of playing.
This year’s Junior Jazz Summer School runs from 3rd-7th August with a performance at the Brecon Jazz Festival on Friday 7th August. The fee for the week is £285.
For more information and to apply for a place, download an application form from www.rwcmd.ac.uk/juniorjazz