Our “Jazz Apprentices” Mentoring Program

After we had been at the Basement for about two years there was an event which was to have profound effect on us. A group of fifteen young people whom we found were members of the Gold Coast Youth Orchestra Big Band [ average age 15 ] had been playing a concert in a different part of the Arts Centre and decided to call in to listen to our quartet. We invited them in groups of three to partake of a noble tradition in jazz of sitting in with the band.There was a rapid exit from the majority of the GCYOBB members, but we ended up with three, Alex [ tenor saxophone ], James [ guitar ] and Cain [ trumpet ] on stage playing three songs. That was how the APPRENTICES came into being. These young men decided they wanted to do a lot more playing with us, listened to our suggestions and implemented them and not surprisingly, made great progress. These three went on to study at the Griffith University Conservatorium of Music and have since graduated with high distinctions.

In the following years we were blessed with having quite a few more apprentices with most of them going on to the Conservatorium, including, Cassie [alto saxophone ], Jesse [ alto saxophone ], Sam [ trombone and bass ], Tristan [ trumpet ], Julian [ alto and tenor saxophones ], James [ alto saxophone ]. The youngest ever on stage was an eight year old girl who played C Jam Blues. To the best of our knowledge, this was the only venue in Australia where very young musicians were invited to sit in with a professional band on a regular basis. It was good for the venue too, as each apprentice had parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents who patronised the Basement to hear their musical efforts.

Due to my enthusiasm for all these talented youngsters and having learned quite a lot about Social Media, my next move was to use Facebook and Twitter vigorously to promote our program. I was blown away when contacted by the head of the music program at the Idaho College in the USA, Mike Allen, offering a scholarship for two of the apprentices for the next ten day Music Camp ! Idaho was providing the ten day course and accommodation at no cost, with the attendee finding their air fare. What an opportunity it was ! The lecturers and teachers were the absolute top of their profession so our guys really had a huge kick along with their playing. Our Aussies were extremely popular in Idaho, with Mike Allen singing their praises, and inviting me to find more players for the following years. This opportunity has helped round out the playing and musicianship of all who attended for the last four years..Following YouTube is our goodnight song on one of our very successful Dixieland nights using extra players and being joined by the apprentices for Please Don’t Talk About Us When We’re Gone.



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