Workshop With Mark Bassey by Harriet Tinker

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After winning a grant from the Youth Opportunities Fund, we were excited to welcome trombonist Mark Bassey to play with us and lead a workshop in Cottingham on Sunday 2nd May.

The afternoon session took the form of a workshop focusing on jazz playing, and in particular, improvisation, which many of the players dread! But from the start it was obvious that the session would help players of all abilities to improve their confidence and technique. After showing the percussion and rhythm how to create the perfect ‘groove’, we all learnt the basic notes and rhythms before improvising on a scale in sections, which made the experience much less daunting!

Next we learnt two pieces, one made up and based solely on the improvisation and riffs we had learnt earlier, and a Spanish tune with improvisation sections to be played in groups again. By the time the workshop came to an end, we all felt that we understood the techniques of improvisation and jazz playing much more clearly, and I’m sure that will be obvious in our next rehearsal!

In the evening, Mark joined us for a number of pieces in our , and took some solos, which was truly amazing and inspirational for the whole orchestra and gave us an insight into how a professional musician goes about playing and developing their solos. We also played the two pieces we had learnt earlier in the day, one of them, (much to the surprise of the audience), without any !

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At the end of the concert, many players left feeling inspired to play and learn more about jazz improvisation, and members of the audience commented the band had played their best concert in years! I would like to say a huge thank you to Mark Bassey from the whole band, and hope that he will play with us again in the near future!

By Harriet Tinker, band member

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