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Joe Thompson's Jazz Workshop

Date / Time:

02 Jul 17 14.30 - 15.30


The Conservatoire, Blackheath

Performing Group:

Jazz Workshops at the Conservatoire


Book here for our next Jazz Workshop


Do you play an instrument? Are you interested in some relaxed tuition from some of the best Jazz artists around? Looking for a chance to explore your practice and play together? We’d love you to take part in our next Jazz Workshop with Joe Thompson at the Blackheath Conservatoire, a community hub for music, art and drama in South East London for more than 135 years.

Joe runs the Club at the Ivy in London’s West End. A pianist, he regularly performs with world-class artists and a couple of years ago launched Family Jazz with us at the Conservatoire. It’s been a great success and is the perfect laid-back introduction to world-class live music. Perfect for aspiring young musicians, or families who want some quality musical time together, this really is some of the best jazz in town, and when you pair it with an espresso from our café, makes for the hippest family scene around.

Keen to encourage a slightly older age group, last November we launched our first Masterclass. It was led by Joe, Conservatoire regular and favourite Robert Rickenberg on double bass, and phenomenal trumpeter and teacher Mark Armstrong. Eight students took part, exploring music, their practice and playing together. They learnt alone, in small groups and came together to make music. We had brass players, a pianist, a singer and a double bassist. Some were students at the Conservatoire, others completely new to us. Students brought along their own piece but that was just the starting point. The whole event was a really supportive exploratory exercise, with some lovely personal stories. 



16-year old Harrison Dolphin came all the way from Rayleigh in Essex where he is one of only three students studying music A Level at his local secondary, The Fitzwimarc School, searching for an opportunity to play collaboratively, learn and nurture his love of jazz having seen Family Jazz featured on Eventbrite., It was hard to believe Harrison was self-taught and had only picked up the double bass six months previously. As his first instrument is guitar and not an orchestral instrument, Harrison has always played by ear and is only now learning to read music, but instinctively picked up the music and was soon jamming with the pros! As a result of the Masterclass, Mark asked Harrison to join the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy. Harrison said:

"Playing in the masterclass has helped immensely, I've been introduced to many other musicians and inspirations through NYJO academy, and it has inspired me to study jazz and follow it as a career path. I wouldn't have the same attitude about music that I do today without the opportunities and experience that this workshop gave me.”

Here’s a brief excerpt:




11-year pianist and Conservatoire student Molly Morgan came armed with Debussy’s Clair de Lune, but also brought along a short self-composed piece. Whilst clearly an amazing musician, Molly didn’t seem to realise how good her own piece was. Joe helped Molly develop it and encouraged her to sing it herself, along with singer Sophia Sczcegolski-Jacobs. The piece worked extremely well as a duet and led Joe to comment that she should refer to herself as a “singer-songwriter’. Molly said 

"I was a little nervous at first, but I soon realised it was a great way to experiment and learn. Joe was really kind and encouraging."

Students then had the opportunity to stay and perform as part of the Family Jazz concert which followed. For trumpeter Hattie Asker this was her second time performing here, which she described in her blog - https://mytrumpetandme.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/a-bit-of-samba/.


The audience loved it! Family Jazz is extremely popular with the under 10s but we would really like those a bit older to feel a more of a part of it as well. Our Masterclasses are a fantastic way to learn and explore in a relaxed and inspiring way. So much of music is about just trying things out. You never know what the outcome will be!

We have another Workshop coming up on Sunday 2nd July followed by Family Jazz. Jazz is so often associated with male musicians but there are plenty of fabulous female artists out there. This month's session features the brilliant Sophie Alloway (drums) and Charlie Pyne (double bass) with Joe Thompson in the classic piano-bass-drums jazz combination

If you or someone you know would like to take part please drop us a line – henryb@conservatoire.org.uk. The Workshop is only £10 and friends and family can watch for free. Workshop students then get free entry to the Family Jazz session afterwards (family & friends will have to buy tickets for that, though!). You don’t need to be an amazing musician – just up for trying things out! We’re looking for students aged 10 – 18, from roughly Grade 3 upwards.

“If you enjoy “messing about” on your chosen instrument, then you are already improvising”, says Joe. "In our masterclass series we hope to open up new avenues, to build on strengths and to encourage the young musicians to shape their improvisations into something more lasting, as well as offering guidance on how to take their music making to the next level.”


Tickets are avaialable here.


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