Over the 2022-23 academic year, Widening Participation organized 27 events, ranging from its regular Percussion, Jazz, Theory and Composers Clubs to ‘Springboard to Grade 5 Theory’, ‘Inner Ear’ and ‘Beyond the Dots’ workshops. Many of these sessions are led by staff and students from Junior Academy, and give participants opportunities to collaborate with other like-minded young musicians and experience playing in an ensemble for the first time, as well as hearing their own compositions being performed.

620 different young musicians attended these events, with many participating in more than one, leading to a total of 937 participant interactions with the Widening Participation programme.

‘This gave me more confidence and I now have a newfound love for playing in jazz ensembles.’

Jazz Club participant

‘Hearing my music played live for the first time was very moving, and I was very inspired by the other young musicians.’

Composers Club participant

In June, as part of the ongoing Community First Strings Experience programme, pupils from St John's Catholic Primary School in Rotherhithe were invited to spend an afternoon at the Academy. The participants, aged 4-6, were given a tour of the Academy and the Collections, participated in a range of creative projects and also had the chance to hear our students perform.

In July, the Widening Participation department hosted a Takeover Day at the Academy, which was attended by participants between the ages of 11-17. This celebrated the fantastic music-making from the various projects that participants had taken part in throughout the year, and invited young people from a wide range of London boroughs to experience the provision that is available through the Widening Participation initiatives at the Academy. 24 workshops and rehearsals took place throughout the day, culminating in a final performance in the Duke's Hall that was attended by parents, guardians, and family members.

A highlight of the autumn term was a visit from Academy alum and Governing Body member Alexis Ffrench, who returned in September for a masterclass in composition attended by 30 young people between 14-18 years old. Alexis Ffrench also led an inspiring pre-audition masterclass at the Academy in 2022, and we look forward to him working with the Widening Participation department again in the future.

‘My dream is to become a professional musician, so learning from people as established as Alexis seemed like an incredible experience. And it truly was!’

Alexis Ffrench masterclass participant

To find out more about the Widening Participation programme, and how to get involved in projects, visit the department page.

Header image: Alexis Ffrench leads a composition masterclass at the Academy © Charlotte Levy

1st image: Widening Participation autumn Jazz Club, with jazz trumpeter Byron Wallen © Charlotte Levy

2nd image: Community First Strings Experience visit © Charlotte Levy

3rd image: Widening Participation Takeover Day at the Academy © Charlotte Levy