As 'Head of Jazz, Pop & Musical Theatre Performance', I help students to develop real-world performance skills – anything from working as an ensemble to developing your own artistic ‘voice’ to understanding how to soundcheck effectively. I sincerely believe that all students should be allowed to follow and master any music they want to perform, all genres and styles are welcomed and encouraged.
I think it is fundamental that students interact with the professional world whilst studying to allow them an insight into the vocational world should they choose to follow that path. I use my own professional contacts to facilitate masterclasses, talks and performances alongside internationally famed artists. Recent guests have included; pianist Bill Laurance and saxophonist Bob Reynolds from Snarky Puppy; drummer Will Champion from Coldplay; jazz saxophonist, rapper and radio presenter, Soweto Kinch; and the rock group, Band of Skulls. We have also had visits from leading music managers, BBC Introducing and professional songwriters.
I teach the Jazz Theory module which explores jazz harmony and improvisation from ‘The Great American Songbook’ to modern jazz composers such as Wayne Shorter and Jacob Collier. Students have found that this helps develop their understanding of modern popular and jazz music in both performance and composition.
I also teach Jazz Composition too, this module gives students a chance to compose for jazz and jazz influenced ensembles. We look at the rich tradition of jazz writing and its conventions as heard in the works of the great jazz composers, such as Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. We explore contemporary approaches from artists as developed by composers such as Gil Evans, Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider. We also look at how crossover composers such as Jacob Collier, Louis Cole and Snarky Puppy have integrated jazz composition techniques into their music too.