Spotlight - Jazzing it up with the National Orchestras of Scotland

In July's Spotlight we about the jazzy summer celebrations planned by the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, and supported by the Youth Music Initiative, which will mark their very special 30th anniversary this year.


A triptych. In one image, a young man plays a violin. In another a group of students watches a teacher giving a music lesson on a whiteboard. In the third, a group of musicians are practicing playing together.

Image courtesy of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland

2022 marks 30 years of jazz at the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (NYOS) as we celebrate a proud history of world-class music education and performance opportunities working with some of the world’s greatest jazz musicians and educators.

Over the past 30 years, the NYOS Jazz Programme has grown from one orchestra to a series of annual projects working with young musicians from the age of 12 up to 25.

These range from our flagship Jazz Orchestra performing under the direction of Andrew Bain at international festivals (including the BBC Proms and the London Jazz Festival), to grass roots level ensembles and workshops which offer an introduction to jazz music-making in an ensemble setting.

Pupils at school during a music lesson

Image courtesy of NYOS

YMI funding will support our 30th year summer celebrations beginning in July with the NYOS Jazz Summer School, which brings together our youngest jazz players in breath-taking surroundings on the Isle of Skye.

The NYOS Jazz Orchestra then embarks on a Scottish tour with dates in Skye, Nairn, Aberdeen, and Stirling. Concerts will feature compositions and arrangements from NYOS alumni, as well as the music of this year’s artist in residence, pianist and educator, Julian Joseph.

YMI funding also enables NYOS to develop our work with young musicians on the cusp of a professional career who - as NYOS Ambassadors - receive paid training and employment opportunities through the Ambassador trainee scheme. As part of our 30th anniversary of Jazz, YMI supported six Jazz Ambassadors to support the delivery of our jazz outreach work in local authority schools in Glasgow at the beginning of the year.

Being an ambassador has been a hugely rewarding experience. Being able to help the students and seeing them develop their improvisational skills and musical confidence has been a privilege to see- NYOS Jazz Ambassador

The Jazz Ambassadors worked with teachers and instrumental tutors in three Glasgow schools to deliver a ten-week programme of jazz-based project work to pupils supported by the local authority teachers, as well as receiving direction from NYOS Jazz staff.

Pupils at school during a music lesson

Image courtesy of NYOS

Our Jazz Ambassadors gained so much experience working with the ambitious students, a valuable step in the young professionals’ career path and a unique opportunity to access paid, hands-on training.

''The challenges we’ve faced in how to best teach jazz has been an excellent opportunity for myself and the other ambassadors to grow both as educators and performers" said one NYOS Jazz Ambassador. "The whole experience has been a wholly positive one and I am continually impressed by the talent of the students and their dedication to learning.’’

You can catch the NYOS Jazz 30th Anniversary Summer Tour Scotland-wide from 8 July.

This article was published on 05 Jul 2022