The tutors at Grafham are fantastic and so are the students. At first I worried because I was going to be the youngest, and that no one else would be my age. But as soon as I arrived I felt welcomed and I didn’t care if I was the youngest or not! The staff are helpful, the food is amazing, the sessions are intense but enjoyable, and everyone gets a say in what they want to do. The tutors concert is aways entertaining.
I have made a lot of friends, so I count down the days until the next course, when I can see them all again! The accommodation is roomy and clean. One of the things that inspires me at Grafham is the view of Grafham Water, on the first morning. Come to Grafham!!
I have been attending the Grafham Jazz course since I was 15 years old. The weekends have given me a chance to play with a whole range of like-minded people. They’ve offered opportunities which otherwise I may not have had.”Now studying Jazz at Leeds College of Music, I still make an effort to get my way back to Grafham, as the relaxed atmosphere and friendly workshops are like nothing I have experienced anywhere else.
I went to Grafham in Jan 2017, and had a fantastic weekend. I wish I had come years ago when I first heard about it via the Cambridge Jazz Co-op. It’s true what everyone says about the friendly, welcoming atmosphere (and the good food), and what Martin had told me beforehand was also true: players of all levels of experience will find it rewarding and enjoyable. I spent the daytime sessions working with Josh Kemp and Alan Barnes on some really varied and challenging charts, and the evenings (and small hours) playing in some highly entertaining jam sessions with fine musicians – all hugely enjoyable.
The most extraordinary feature of this course is the high tutor to student ratio. At most other courses, sessions alternate between tutored and untutored sessions. But here, everyone has one, if not two, tutors with them at all times. Even the late night jam sessions have the tutors not just observing, but taking part, until the wee small hours! This, coupled with the high quality of the tuition, means that students cannot help but improve in a short period of time.
The welcome I received as a newcomer was astounding. Seeing me wandering around, people beckoned me into a room, and got me straight into learning a new tune. Someone who arrived the next day said she thought I had come to the course with some old friends, such was the intensity of the bonds that formed instantly.
The setting was marvellous, and the playing rooms spacious (not always the case on other courses). The food and accommodation stopped short of being luxurious, but I don’t want to be paying for luxury, as one sometimes does on courses in spectacular surroundings.
I just wanted to thank you for the course this last weekend. It was a great environment for a relative novice – relaxed, stimulating and supportive. I shall be back for more.
I have been coming to Grafham since the late 1990s. When I first came I had no idea how to play basic jazz rhythms, nor what was required for which song. The vibraphone player, Norman Say, realised this quite quickly and used to lean over and tell me what to do. Then I started to watch what the older drummers did and copy them. I learned to play here almost from scratch and now I am out nearly every night of the week playing and gigging. The setting is beautiful and the food is good and its the only place where a drummer can have more than one drink!
I continue to enjoy the weekends for several reasons:
– parallel sessions run by tutors with contrasting styles
– an atmosphere which is friendly, enabling and non-judgemental
– exposure to varied material over the whole range of jazz
– the considerable expertise of the tutors
– the encouragement given to everyone, even those on the first rungs of the ladder
I have been coming to the jazz courses at Grafham Water since January 2001. I first went a little concerned that my musical shortcomings might slow down the class and annoy the tutors. It was a relief to discover that everything was accepted with patience and humour. Soon I felt that I was an integral part of the ensemble and enjoying a weekend of non-stop jazz which continued late into the night.Then it dawned on me that I was hooked. I remember the moment well….a cold January morning and we – the usual bunch of exhausted deadbeats in Martin’s class – were attempting to provide tasteful backing for Kate singing Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered. The sun sparkled on the frost outside, boats circled round and round on Grafham Water, and Martin let fly with a great tenor solo standing on one leg. Magic!