Jazz Camp for Girls

HSQ members Helena Summerfield and Helen Pillinger are passionate about introducing girls to jazz music and improvising and so jumped at the opportunity to be involved with Jazz North’s ‘Jazz Camp for Girls’ project.

The ‘Jazz Camp for Girls’ pilot took place on 10th February 2019 in four locations across the North West of England.  This one-day jazz camp for girls was inspired by the Jazz Danmark / Copenhagen Jazz Festival initiative which has grown from 48 students in 2014 to 200 in 2018. The Jazz North target was to reach 60 girls aged between seven and 15 years old, but 74 budding musicians came along to learn about improvisation.

Support for the project came from female musicians based all over the UK. They shared their experiences, rehearsal tips and practical advice in a Jazz Camp for Girls handbook, produced as a reference and inspiration for participants. Percussionist Teena Lyle opened the day with a video message direct from the stage at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, where she was about to perform with Van Morrison. She gave tips and support, encouraging the girls to send her any questions, highlighting the backing the Camp has attracted.

The aim of the one-day workshops was to enable girls to flourish under the mentorship of female role models and Project Manager Helena Summerfield says it did just that. “One little girl asked me when we were having the next one. I replied that the date had not been confirmed yet and she responded ‘Well, I think they should be on every two weeks’. The project is also helping to create a supportive network of jazz educators across the North West and we are planning to increase the number of partner organisations involved in future camps.”

Feedback from parents included one saying her daughter, “really enjoyed yesterday and it helped to boost her confidence”, and another said her child had “a brilliant day with Jazz North… A fantastic initiative to help encourage more female instrumentalists into the world of jazz…”

Jazz North was awarded a grant of £5,130 from Ronnie Scott’s Charity Foundation for ‘Jazz Camp for Girls’ and the partners who worked together on the project were Sheffield Music Hub, Rotherham Music Service, BlueJam Arts, Trafford Music Service, Lancashire Music Service, University of Huddersfield and Marsden Jazz Festival.

Jazz North are planning a second jazz camp for the Autumn, for more details see http://www.jazznorth.org

(photo credit for picture of Jazz Camp participants – Phil Portus)