Photo: Ronnie Scotts Foundation All-Female Big Band in a Day

Much has been written about how government cuts to music funding will have a negative long-term impact on schools. Anyone who has benefitted from a musical education in their childhood or simply loves music will be alarmed to see the latest facts.  Graded music exam entries have fallen significantly. Less students are taking music GCSE exams  and the subject is increasingly disappearing from the curriculum altogether. This downward trend threatens to make music a pastime of children whose families can afford tuition, equipment and activities outside the school environment.

In response to this climate, several charitable organisations have been founded in the past few years to help fill in the gaps. One of these is the Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting jazz and music education in the UK and beyond.  Founded in 2015 as a way of giving back to the community, the Foundation aims to take forward the original ethos of the world-famous jazz club, which was originally created in 1959 as a place for local musicians to come and jam. The charity funds projects that are accessible to children and young people, especially those who are under privileged.

Affordable jazz music education for all

“There are definitely gaps in the provision of music education in the UK, in jazz especially”, says Fatine Boumaaz, Chief Executive of the Foundation. “Jazz education can be a little more complicated in that to play jazz you need to get to a certain level of playing, which can be more challenging to get to when you’re from a background where there is a lack of resources available. We want to offer any young person wishing to learn the genre the opportunity to do so no matter of their economical, geographical or physical situation. In the future, we wish to become the umbrella organization for jazz education in the country.”

The Foundation funds a mixture of projects across the country and overseas. “We say yes to around 60% of the funding requests we receive,” says Fatine. “Some of them are one off, some are ongoing. We have two funding rounds in July and December, although these dates might be subject to change this year.”

Thanks to this funding, many of the resulting initiatives are free to attend.  Examples include Kinetika Bloco,  a performance group of young brass and woodwind players, drummers, steel pan players and dancers. Funding from the Foundation has allowed them to run a weekly after school club in Tulse Hill, London, which is open to children of all musical abilities aged between 8 and 18.

The Foundation also runs its own monthly outreach scheme, ‘Big Band in a Day’ a free one day workshop open to young people between 12 and 17, where they can practice together as a Jazz Big Band and learn more about the techniques and methods of playing Jazz.

Jazz Lines in Birmingham offers free workshop opportunities to young people through their summer school, and various instrument and vocal ensembles. The workshops are open to all abilities and are delivered by a carefully selected team of jazz musicians and educators in Birmingham.

A new life for unused instruments

Another successful initiative that the Foundation has been running is their instrument amnesty. Every two years, members of the public are invited to bring along any musical instruments that aren’t played anymore, to be donated to a new home. Past donors included pop vocalist Sam Smith, who donated a violin, and musician & composer Nithin Sawnhey who donated a guitar. Over 350 instruments were pledged and each one is tracked, so donors will be able to see where their instrument ended up. The next amnesty is in July this year, exact date to be confirmed. Donated instruments will go to community projects in the UK and overseas.

If you’d like to know more, or to find a project near you, visit the Ronnie’s Charitable Foundation website.

Tom Doughty Competition

Thanks to the Ronnie Scotts Foundation, we’re delighted to be giving away a pair of tickets to see Tom Doughty perform at Ronnie Scotts as part of the Blues Explosion on Sunday 17 March.  The event is already sold out, so the winner is in for a great night.  To enter, email your full name to by midnight on Wednesday 6 March 2019.

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