King's Worcester

9 November

King’s Swingers attend Jazz Workshop at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

On Monday 8th November, The Kings Swingers visited Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for an inspirational day of jazz music coaching at a jazz Workshop.

We were hosted by staff and students of the Jazz Department in a variety of sessions which culminated in an extraordinary concert in their stunning Bradshaw Hall. The day began with the Swingers as well as the Groove Diggers from Winterfold taking part in some warm-up group work with staff from the Learning and Partnership department. This included a variety of music games working on rhythm and improvisation. The final activity mixed up pupils from both schools into small groups to create a variety of musical motifs over a jazz riff. After lunch, the Swingers had an inspirational afternoon sitting alongside students from the Conservatoire’s two jazz ensembles – the Jazz Orchestra and the Ellington Orchestra. This involved working on some pieces that the Swinger’s had rehearsed beforehand such as Ellington’s classic Take the A Train and a more contemporary piece called Alfredo which was in fact written by an Old Vigornian, the guitarist John Parricelli (W 1966-1977) for his album Alba in 2008.

The next session was an excellent introduction to improvisation using the 12 blues and some of the Conservatoire’s students to accompany the pupils. Using the pentatonic scale, the band members were introduced to some techniques for developing melodic ideas in their improvisations. Each pupil was able to try out their ideas as well as play what is known as the Head section. After some takeaway pizza, we performed a side by side concert in Bradshaw Hall with some parents as the audience. Winterfold and King’s had some solo spots; we played Green onions and a beautiful arrangement of Over the rainbow. The rest of the programme involved the pupils sitting alongside the two Conservatoire bands and performing some extremely challenging music. FF Music Scholar Florence P was given the opportunity to be the guest vocal soloist in Ellington’s Take the A Train, while  UR Music Scholar had great fun trading drum kit solos with the senior Conservatoire drummers. The finale featured over 60 performers on stage all playing together to make such as uplifting sound.

The day was enormously successful for all participants from Winterfold, King’s and the Conservatoire. We were inspired by the standard of music achieved at the Conservatoire, and their students gained valuable experience working and encouraging school children. We very much look forward to future developments in the future.

The video below provides a snapshot of the day at the Jazz Workshop: