Jazz programme offers young Wandsworth stars the teaching they can’t get at school

By Francesca Williams
March 28 2020 14.05

Eight talented students are enrolled on a new Jazz Development Programme at Wandsworth’s World Heart Beat Music Academy which offers specialised musical training unavailable at schools.

The programme provides teaching from professional musicians, masterclasses and performance opportunities to young musicians who would otherwise not have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

The programme is a product of World Heart Beat’s new partnership with ZEDRA, an international global company who were looking to develop some youngsters who actually reflect the local community.

Toku Ogwang, 14, is one of the programme’s students. He said that music feels like home to him and the academy allows him to keep this feeling alive.

He said: “It would be much harder to progress as a musician without this support, there’s not really much music being taught in school, we just play the keyboard.

“I’m not too good with my theory, but I’ve been getting better and better because of programmes like these.”

Toku’s words reflect the reality that between 2010 and 2019 the number of those studying A Level music fell 42% from 8,790 to 5,124 and 25% from 46,045 to 34,725 for GCSE music.

Toku Ogwang, one of the students selected for the jazz programme is pictured with his saxophone.
Toku Ogwang, 14, is one of the student’s selected for the jazz programme.

Lawrence O’Connor, a music tutor with more than 20 years teaching experience, said: “The diminution of arts education affects everybody.

“Artistic development leads to more creative and flexible thinking and more developed emotional intelligence in all areas of professional and personal life.”

Sahana Gero, MBE, founder and artistic director of World Heart Beat, said: “We want them to come and unleash their talent, and money shouldn’t be a barrier.”

The programme offers individualised musical training for each child and there is a great sense of community within the academy.

Ms Gero, 51, said: “A lot of young people have nowhere to go and nothing to do after school.”

She added: “Jazz teaches you about humanity, it has a real sense of community. When you learn jazz, you are like a family.”

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