The UK’s first ever and longest-running UK jazz summer school is turning 50! The course started in 1966 as part of the Barry Summer School and has not missed a year since, despite having several homes over the decades. In 2012, it was re-branded as The Original UK Jazz Summer School and, for the last four summers, has been hosted at The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff.
Dave Wickins and Buster Birch, who have directed the course for many years on behalf of the various educational institutions that have hosted it, set up a limited company in 2012 – ‘Thanks For Listening Ltd’ – to run the course independently as The Original UK Jazz Summer School. The course continues to thrive and is one of the few remaining summer schools entirely dedicated to jazz.
The course has featured some of the UK’s finest and most highly respected jazz educators over the years; that tradition continues with their current all-star cast. The residential week-long programme offers a very full timetable, most of which is optional, so participants are able to customise their week to be as intense or relaxing as they wish. The focus is on providing all students with the best possible learning experience in a very friendly and supportive environment.
Buster Birch said: “The course is open to all instrumentalists of all ages and levels of experience. We also welcome singers, who are specifically catered for by our vocal coach. This is a great opportunity for musicians of any age to come and enjoy a stimulating voyage of discovery in a very friendly atmosphere, in fantastic surroundings. In previous years, we have had students from 8 to 97 years old!”
Dave Wickins commented: “Participants are grouped in small bands according to levels of experience, so that the more experienced players can be stretched, whilst the less experienced can be nurtured and encouraged in a comfortable and fun setting. We have live concerts every night of the course, performed by students and tutors.”
Full details, including virtual tours, application forms and online payments, are all on The Original UK Jazz Summer School website.