Students jazz it up thanks to grant award

The Vale Jazz Band, including teacher Chris Barton, performing at the Scunthorpe Music Festival. EMN-151106-125341001
The Vale Jazz Band, including teacher Chris Barton, performing at the Scunthorpe Music Festival. EMN-151106-125341001

Students from the Vale Academy in Brigg have formed their own jazz band after being handed a £5,000 grant.

Students from the Vale Academy in Brigg have formed their own jazz band after being handed a £5,000 grant.

New amplifiers and a jazz drum kit have already been purchased and the money will also provide expert tuition over the next year from a specialist at North Lincs Music Support Service.

“The 16 students are giving up free time to come to an evening rehearsal and the sound that the band makes is amazing in such a short time,” said the Vale’s curriculum leader for music Jayne Keeler.

“To have an extra boost to our music funding for our students has been fantastic. It’s a pleasure to see students develop their musical skills in a different way and to see their engagement in the project.

The money was provided by North Lincs Music Hub, which receives its funding from the Arts Council,

“The progress of students is clear for all to see and shows how crucial funding from the Arts Council is, to allow music to continue and develop at such a high level,” added Mrs Keeler.

“Individuals who, at the start of the project, had not improvised or played jazz are standing up and playing solo with the band backing them. It’s wonderful to see.”

Mrs Keeler thanked jazz specialist and teacher from the North Lincs Music Support Service Rob McGrath and the hub.

The Academy was visited by Elaine Price from the Arts Council; Sally Russell, the Head of Music Support Service; and Erica Hardy, Head of the North Lincs Music Hub.

They were ensuring the project was being run successfully and students were fully engaged in the outcomes.

Elaine said: “It is so exciting and reassuring to see such a vibrant music department at work and the quality of the jazz band in such a short space of time is very impressive.”

And Sally said the support service was proud to be supporting the young people of Vale Academy.

“The enthusiasm and interest that is evident in the sessions and the resulting playing affirm the value of high quality musical tuition and its place in today’s schools and academies,” she said.

“The progress that the students have made is stunning and is a testament to their commitment in becoming accomplished musicians.’

And the students are enjoying the opportunity the jazz band has provided.

Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Mastin from Barnetby is a member of the school’s orchestra, wind band and brass band.

“I’ve never improvised before,” she said.

“It was scary at first but I am getting much more confident now.

“I am staying at Vale sixth form to study music as one of my A levels so I am looking forward to another year of rehearsals.”

Principal Nicola Williams also thanked the hub, support service and Arts Council.

“We have a wonderful music department and the team and students’ enthusiasm has been further encouraged by this award,” said Mrs Williams.

“The band sounds amazing and the students are benefitting from the confidence and sense of being in a team that it is instilling.”