jazz programmes

ensemble (click/touch for more info)

The ensembles are at the very heart of our learning programme at Jazz School UK - the regular meetings and carefully graded repertoire ensure steady and consolidated progress for players of all abilities and experience, from beginning improvisers right through to aspiring professionals.

Knowing the tunes in advance - exploring new improvising skills and coming back to them repeatedly to consolidate knowledge - establishing musical relationships in a regular group - all these things give purpose and meaning to your practice between each meeting. Improvement is unavoidable!


The language of jazz improvisation consists mainly of the melodies and rhythms of its repertoire. That's why good jazz musicians, as a matter of course, learn repertoire by heart.

Hence our Jazz Ensembles - tutored playing groups working through a set of tunes and standards that have been decided in advance, giving you the opportunity to acquire real jazz language.

We have put together a great collection of tunes - ranging from Fats Waller to John Taylor, and everything in between! We have chosen them mostly not only for the specific improvising challenges they throw up, but also because they are now in themselves part of the jazz lexicon.

Learning repertoire by heart, and learning how to transfer what you hear directly onto the instrument without conscious calculation - these are the most important steps in improving your jazz playing.

As we go through each season, we also explore the fundamental principles of the music - the rhythmic foundations both of swing and latin pulse, how to play both on and through chords (two different things!), how best to use all the scales and modes in different situations, how to lock in with the rhythm section, how to practise, how to create dialogue, shape and atmosphere in your solos, and much much more.

As you can tell from the tune lists, the higher ensembles become more and more challenging, musically and technically. The pace and intensity of the sessions also increase - and while Gollumites may do a lot of work on basic principles and skill development, the advanced Gandalfinis will concentrate more on advanced ensemble techniques and improvising concepts.

The ensemble programme (rhythm section plus frontline) covers the whole range of playing experience and ability from jazz beginner through to aspiring professional.

‣ ensembles and LEVELS

Gollum (beginner/improver)

Mordor (improver/intermediate)

Bilbo (intermediate/intermediate +)

Gandalf (advanced)

Jazz Singers and Accompanists (improver/intermediate/advanced)

The Shoefactory Band (intermediate +/advanced)


  • This is a programme of learning - players sign up for a group for the whole season.
  • Groups are streamed by ability and experience.
  • These are small groups based round rhythm section (drums, bass, piano/guitar) plus frontline - in fact this season we are of necessity reducing the group sizes to ensure any social distancing requirements!
  • Each group has a set repertoire of jazz tunes and standards. With the help of a playlist, tunesheets that we supply, theory notes taken in sessions and available on the members website and in jazz school literature, players prepare the new tunes each month and come in to play them in their group under the guidance of one of our expert tutors. They then work some more on these tunes in the light of what they have learned in this session and bring them back for revision later in the season.
  • After six sessions each group chooses some of the tunes for further revision and performance.
  • The aims of the programme are - learning the essential tune repertoire which is the primary source of the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements of jazz improvisation - learning how to function correctly within a small jazz group - learning how to apply the theory of jazz harmony and rhythm to real-time improvisation - learning how to connect sound to feeling.
  • The main part of the programme work is done by the player in personal practice, performance and study;  the monthly meetings, as well as being guided playing sessions, provide a focus for this personal work, an opportunity to ask questions and to receive feedback and clarification of theory points, and are also very enjoyable social occasions. Sometimes there is cake.
  • The monthly meetings comprise four x 1 hour sessions and use a range of development techniques to explore and consolidate the ensemble skills, tune language and theory points arising in the performance of each tune.
  • At the end of each season each regular ensemble player gets an individual report, compiled from their own and tutor evaluations of progress through the year.
  • ensemble plus

    All students value individual feedback into their playing - this is one of the things that can really help the learning process. At the end of each season each regular ensemble player gets an individual report, compiled from their own and tutor evaluations of progress through the year. The ensemble plus programme is the next step up from this, offering more regular feedback throughout the season, as well as online 121 lessons to address the instrumental and theory issues arising. This is a great opportunity for tightly focused personal study with a professional.


    Learning at Jazz School UK is based on a specific set of skills (and related areas of understanding) needed for jazz small group playing. We organise these skills into 4 broad playing levels and our current Ensembles and Workshop Days are streamed accordingly.

    For students wanting to follow an intensive course similar to, for example, a jazz degree at a Conservatoire, we recommend the CERTIFICATE AND DIPLOMA PATHWAY run at Jazz School UK by jazz publisher e-tailer and course provider Verge.


    A A structured pathway through 4 levels of learning. Each programme comprises 2 seasons of study, and depending on your level of jazz playing experience and knowledge you can choose from the following programmes:





    Each programme is a standalone period of supported study - you may move on to the next playing level whenever you are ready.

    While a student will ideally complete each programme in 2 consecutive seasons of study, we will also award a PART ONE after one season if a break in study is required.


    A A combination of ensembles(s), 121 tutorials (online), workshop/pathway days, guided personal study (including transcription and artist projects) and email support.


    A The exact combination of activities to make up the season's work will depend on the requirements of the individual player, although generally we would expect each Certificate/Diploma student to be doing one regular ensemble, some Workshop and Pathway Days, and having regular individual lessons and email contact; in any case the contact hours in each season will amount to 120 hours. In practical terms this will generally work out at 2 visits per month to Jazz School UK plus online 121 lessons and 10-15 hours per week of guided personal study.

    jazz school online

    If you can't get here in person, then why not try an online course? These comprise a 10 week "term" of group meetings, individual lessons and online course material on topics including:

  • jazz foundation
  • jazz piano
  • walking bass
  • arranging
  • jazz repertoire
  • vocal technique
  • jazz saxophone
  • Nothing beats being in the same room and playing with other people, but our online courses offer a great alternative - you will be meeting other players of similar standard and playing interests, and studying with some of the best players and teachers in the UK. For more information about our exceptionally talented faculty, do have a look over on the about us page.

    individual lessons

    Sometimes we like to hunker down and concentrate on the instrument, or on a specific area of theory or musicianship - at times like these a course of individual lessons can be really helpful. We offer online time with our professional tutors in chunks of 4.5 hours, divisible any way you like ( 6 x 45 minutes works very well).


    We're currently taking registrations for next season, so if you're interested in any of these programmes of jazz study, don't delay, register your interest using this form. You can also email us. You will find pricing details on the Booking page. Thanks for reading!