As South Africa commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings we take time to reflect on the daily challenges that young people in South Africa still face.
For many passionate young musicians quality musical education is still not within reach but the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival aims to change that by providing talented musicians an opportunity to gain world-class exposure that could set them on the path to success.
The National Youth Jazz Festival is South Africa’s leading jazz development programme and Standard Bank has been a proud sponsor since 1995. The festival runs alongside the Standard Bank Jazz Festival at the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and provides a forum for musical education and unique performance opportunities.
Over 250 young musicians attend the festival and they are mentored by 35 jazz educators and 80 jazz performers. The young musicians are divided into three groups: tertiary students, secondary students and development students, the latter come from disadvantaged backgrounds with limited musical educational opportunities.
The young people attend jazz workshops and seminars led by world-class musicians and teachers that focus on South African jazz heritage, jazz history, theory, practice and associated disciplines like sound engineering and management.
They are also divided into mixed-ability big bands who practice daily, giving students who do not normally play in a quality ensemble, great exposure and experience.
Finally students have the opportunity to engage with many of the performers attending the Standard Bank Jazz Festival to learn about their personal philosophy and their jazz experience.
The Festival is not the end of the road as all participants audition for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band and the Standard Bank Schools Big Band, allowing them to take their exposure to the next level.