Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra


Are you brave enough to “cross over” into the jazz genre?

When it comes to the world of jazz we have often encountered sharp intakes of breath from experienced, classically trained musicians. Recently, one jovially remarked that it would be like “crossing over into the dark side,” not quite understanding the types of jazz on offer and the palm sweating arena of musical performance. For certain, there seems to be reluctance by some to even consider venturing into the “jazz” genre. Never has there been a little word such as this one. “JAZZ,” that simultaneously captures a rich heritage of music but fails to define the vast spectrum of different types of jazz on offer.

So what are the major differences you need to consider as a musician perhaps classically trained but interested in giving it a go?

One major area of concern is improvisation.

We’ve all sat in awe as we’ve watched musicians trill away happily having been given the conductor’s “nod” to go for it within a set piece. The younger they are the less inhibited they seem to be and the easier improvisation comes to them….And yet for all its organic splendour improvisation requires the most steely of disciplined musical minds.  The irony of improvisation is that some of the finest youngest improvisers at the centre can be heard week in and week out in the rehearsal room practising, practising, practising. Improvisation is about learning a whole host of scales; major and minor bebop scales through to the altered scale are just a few of them, developing the listening “ear” through a variety of ear training exercises, and a relentless exploration of theory to give them an understanding of the immediacy of jazz. The bigger your toolkit of understanding the easier improvisation becomes.

“But wait a minute” insists John Ellis “improvisation is an option. Not everyone wants to improvise and being given the freedom to be able to play within part of a Big Band environment is just as rewarding.  Enjoy the orchestrations and the challenges they present within themselves. There are many different jazz elements dependent on what you play.  And don’t forget you will become musical heavy weights with the ability to play for continuous periods of time, perhaps a key difference with other genres of music.”

As an organisation DYJA has started looking into some of the issues young people face when coming into our centre as jazz novices albeit excellent musicians.  In preparation for our upcoming educational season (launching with a joint weekend of jazz with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) from the 16th – 18th September this year), we will be hosting workshops open to all interested in “crossing over” into and de-mystifying the jazz genre. We’ll be posting further more in-depth articles on learning and getting involved in jazz genres over the coming months.

In the meantime our range of Jazz Education Workshops start on Saturday September 17th 2016 and can be booked here.


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DYJA-AdminAre you brave enough to “cross over” into the jazz genre?

The Supa-Dupa Big Band Bonanza Weekend in partnership with NYJO is almost here!

Do you want to learn how to play an instrument?  Perhaps you play an instrument already and want to learn how to move across into the jazz genre? Or maybe you’re a budding or accomplished young jazz musician already and would relish the opportunity of learning from the best?

In partnershipqIWuq9XL with the National Youth Jazz Organisation and proudly sponsored by Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation and the Doncaster Music Hub, Doncaster Youth Jazz Association is excited to be hosting the first Supa-Dupa Big Band Bonanza between Friday 16th and Sunday 18th September 2016 aimed at attracting anyone and everyone interested in learning or listening to jazz from across the Yorkshire region.

On Friday DYJA and NYJO Jazz Ambassadors will be engaging with Doncaster secondary school students, and on Saturday a range of workshops designed to encourage budding young musicians develop their jazz talents will aim to attract a regional audience to the CAST theatre and the Doncaster Youth Jazz Association Centre on Beckett Road.  Details of these workshops and how to book onto them can be found on the DYJA events pages.   A team of support Ambassadors will be on hand to encourage, discuss and support young musicians. “This is an unmissable weekend” says John Ellis MBE. “We have a unique opportunity in providing a focused learning experience for the next generation of jazz musicians and lovers. Learning from the likes of Mark Armstrong (Musical Director NYJO) or Dennis Rollins (Associate Musical Director DYJA) as well as being exposed to the high standards of jazz expertise from the country’s finest young musicians on our very own doorsteps should be on every student’s priority list.”

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) is Britain’s longest-running ensemble for young people up to 25 playing big-band jazz. Its mission is to perform exceptional music to excite audiences and engage with young people of all backgrounds around the country. In addition to the main performing orchestra, the organisation also operates the weekly NYJO Academy which contains several training bands and a vocal ensemble, and a nationwide series of inspirational workshops and educational events which inspire children and young people with a love of music and jazz. The organisation has helped launch the careers of many of the UK’s most-renowned jazz musicians including Amy Winehouse. Sir John Dankworth CBE “From an educational point of view, I think that NYJO in 2016 is one of our most valuable institutions in this country. The Hon.Richard C. Lyttelton, Former President of EMI Classics and Jazz.

The weekend culminates in an unmissable Supa-Dupa Big Band Bonanza held at the CAST theatre, Doncaster from 2;30pm onwards where NYJO will be performing alongside DYJA’s very own NYJO.  Tickets are now available to buy through the CAST box office.

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DYJA-AdminThe Supa-Dupa Big Band Bonanza Weekend in partnership with NYJO is almost here!

“Feeling Good” – Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra’s new vocal EP out now!


Our new EP, “Feeling Good” launches tomorrow night at our joint concert “Swing on a Summer’s Evening”. Following on from Doncaster Youth Jazz Association’s successful exchange tour in Germany in 2015 many people suggested we record our current young musicians alongside our talented vocallists, Max and Ruth. Perhaps the fact that they were only 17 and 15 when this EP was put together should make the impact of listening to this EP more memorable. It seems fitting that this EP launches when it does and will be out on sale at our CAST performance on Friday 1st July (Swing on a Summers Evening) with our Herten friends from the Erich Feeling GoodKlausener Schule (EKS).  After all it was through this exchange relationship and on our 2015 trip that we were inspired to put this together. Having to date, mostly recorded instrumental pieces this EP is a nod to posterity as it not only celebrates the enormous talent of our young musicians but commemorates the 2015 relaunch of the Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra (DYJO) under the very capable hands of Dennis Rollins (DYJA Alum) our new Associate Director. We hope you enjoy listening. John Ellis MBE




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DYJA-Admin“Feeling Good” – Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra’s new vocal EP out now!