Unsolicited testimonials


  • Ali Ellson
  • Mary Lowe
  • Joanna Pearson
  • Gail Whitney
  • Mathias Brust
  • Masa Pasovic
  • Ruth Roberts
  • Malcolm Goldstein
  • Kate Sherwood
  • William Wilson
  • Quotes

Ali Ellson

Dear Gabriel,

Thank you so very much for the winter 2016 Jazz Academy course.

I learned so much and the quality of tutoring was A**.

I feel it has made a significant improvement to my playing, and especially, helped me to set up a more effective practice routine.

Jazz Academy is the Rolls Royce of Jazz Schools!

Best wishes,

Ali Ellson, Piano, Winter Jazz Academy 2016.

Mary Lowe

Dear Gabriel,

I had such a great time on the Jazz Academy Winter Course 2016.

Being a newbie, I was apprehensive about what to expect, but was soon put at ease by the welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t read music, as everyone is encouraged to let go and just throw themselves in!

This is exactly what I did, and by doing so, took a lot from the experience. I urge everyone to do this course.

I've already started thinking about which songs I'd like to test out on the Easter course. Looking forward to it!

Thank you!

Mary Lowe, Voice, Winter Jazz Academy 2016.

Joanna Pearson

Dear Gabriel,

I had an awesome time on the Winter Jazz course 2014 - huge thanks to all the tutors and for all the organisation.

The honesty and openess that jazz demands of us are not easy - especially not with our hectic lives and all their stresses and strains.

The warmth and encouragement from the tutors and fellow students creates a space where that necessary honesty and openess can happen. A safe space to try things you've never done before, or things that might not work, or that might need (a lot of) further practice.

Compared to other courses I've done the emphasis is truly on students, of all levels, getting to play together as much as possible. The result is a kind of magic. With the Yehudi Menhuen school's facilities and long, odd winding staircases and corridors - It's like Hogwarts - but with Jazz!

Best wishes

Jo Pearson, Piano and Composition, Winter Jazz Academy 2014.

Gail Whitney

Dear Gabriel,

Thank you Gabriel, to you and all of the brilliant gorgeous tutors who never fail to make the Jazz Academy Experience, one never to be forgotten!!

I now have wonderful memories and a change in my attitude to my music practice, a renewed confidence in my own ability to perform and the motivation to go and play music with others a lot more often, it is such fantastically good fun! Everyone was so friendly and totally supportive to each other, there was always a warm and encouraging atmosphere.

I would recommend Jazz Academy Residential School’s to everyone, and really good value for money too! You will grow yourself in so many musical and personal ways.

I had a thoroughly excellent time and look forward to going again as there is always, always, something new to learn and I just love that!

Thank you again!

Gail Whitney, Voice and Trumpet, Winter Jazz Academy 2014.

Mathias Brust

Dear Gabriel,

I am writing to thank you for running this fabulous course. I have just returned home after attending your Summer Jazz Course 2013. I don't think there has been a week in my life in which I have learned more. It wildly exceeded my expectations. The coming weeks will show how much I have actually advanced.

Interestingly, the most revealing moments to me were those that were not on the programme, for example, a lot of spontaneous playing and improvisation at world class level by you and the tutors. Your improvisation with Gareth (Lockrane) and Will (Bartlett) on "Out of Nowhere" on Friday night appeared to me close to telepathy. Being part of this is priceless, even if only as a listener.

The tutorials, ensemble and improvisation groups were all fantastic, and I believe that everybody got something out of it regardless of their level. I think the course gave me enough food for a year to work on, so that I am hopefully better prepared for the next one. It has given me a much better understanding of what I have to learn and practice in order to become able to "speak" the basics of the jazz language, which is what I hope to achieve.

I don't really want to criticise anything. There was nothing that disturbed me, in fact, it is a miracle that all these different people got on so well for a whole week under intense pressure and spatial confinement. Some seemed to have a rather consumerist attitude that I am familiar with from our fee paying chemistry students but it would be a mistake to make concessions to their criticism. Your school offers more than anyone can possibly take home, we just have to see and listen and take from it as much as we can carry. Please keep me a slot reserved for next summer. Thank you very much for continuing this wonderful school!

All my best wishes,

Mathias Brust, Saxophone, Summer Jazz Academy 2013

Masa Pasovic

Dear Gabriel,

I would like to thank you and your great team of tutors for this wonderful experience of Jazz Academy spring 2014. Having zero experience in jazz I was completely thrown out of my comfort zone, which was a little scary and stressful:) but I'm so glad I took that challenge because not only I learnt a lot about the jazz itself, I also learnt things about myself.

I will never forget those three days of hard work, laughter, great people, new friendships, bonding, helping each other and sharing unselfishly, creating wonderful things together and learning, learning, learning.

I hope I will stay in touch with most of you and I will certainly look into an option to join you again soon!

Hugs to all of you!

Masa Pasovic, Voice, Spring Jazz Academy 2014

Ruth Roberts

Dear Gabriel,

I've been trying for the last week to think of how to put into words how much last week's Summer Jazz course (Summer Jazz 2013) meant to me. I think it's probably no exaggeration to say it was one of the most inspirational weeks of my life, and I am extremely grateful to you and the other tutors for this unforgettable experience.

I've been making music since the age of five, following the time-honoured route of lessons and Associated Board exams, and developing experience and skills in playing music in the classical tradition. I've always enjoyed listening to jazz but had no idea of how to start to play by ear and improvise. Jazz is a complex, "grown-up" form of music; intriguing and exciting, but a little scary at the same time. The Jazz Academy course offered patient tuition in the grammar and vocabulary of jazz and many opportunities to develop fluency in the language.

I was amazed at the diversity of students attending. With ages ranging from 13 to 92, and experience from complete beginner to professional, this really is a course for anyone with an interest in performing jazz. Will, our phenomenal piano tutor, took us through a crash course of advanced jazz harmony in six days and Sam skilfully coached our improv group towards several successful performances. I learnt so much from the tutors' talks and have made copious notes to follow up! The nightly jazz club was a great opportunity to perform to each other, as well as being a highly enjoyable social event.

As adults we don't often find ourselves in the position of learning new skills and it can be difficult to step outside of the comfort zone. The Jazz Academy offers a supportive atmosphere in which to take risks among new friends. Learning can be a frustrating experience but the satisfaction when it all goes to plan is immense! I now know what I need to work on to improve my jazz piano playing and am keen to follow the advice of listening broadly and listening deeply, before returning to continue my education on the next course.

Thank you, Gabriel!

Ruth Roberts, Bass, Summer Jazz Academy 2013

Malcolm Goldstein

Dear Gabriel,

A week after my first involvement with Jazz Academy at the Spring Course 2013 and I am still feeling the after effects. Acknowledging the cliche I still find it difficult to put into words what I have been through and what I have gained from the experience. It genuinely was an honour and a privilege to have been a participant.

This was my very first time being exposed to such a large gathering of musicians of all levels and playing and improvising in front of them. Yes, I was extremely nervous and anxious but everyone, and I mean everyone, was so supportive and encouraging. Jazz Academy is clearly not a place for prima donnas and those wanting to demonstrate some kind of superiority in ability and competence. On the contrary it is a place for sharing and developing ideas.

The tutors were full of enthusiasm and inspiration and even stressing such simple but obvious ideas such as "music is for ears and not eyes" seemed to take on an extra dimension and meaning. I can't forget the improvisation session in which we learned a tune in a little over an hour without any written music just by listening to Gabriel singing and then finding the notes on our instruments. Even more astonishing, we sang, played and improvised it in concert later during the evening. Quite simply I have learned a new way of learning, or perhaps I should say a new way of listening.

I also cannot forget the warm up sessions for the brass instruments. Blowing those long notes together created a great sense of calm and togetherness and, dare I say so, it felt quite spiritual.

I guess that in a sense this sums up Jazz Academy. It is so much more than a music experience. It incorporates personal development and awareness. It opens up opportunities to make new friends and break down all kinds of boundaries that in other contexts can be quite limiting.

When I returned home from the course my wife remarked that I appeared to be on some kind of high and I probably still am. I can't believe just how much happened in three days and I can't wait for the next course. In fact I'm just about to book for it right now!

Thank you Gabriel and everyone else at Jazz Academy. I really do look forward to meeting you all again soon.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Goldstein, Trumpet, Spring Jazz Academy 2013

Kate Sherwood

Dear Gabriel,

Thank you. I've just got back from my first experience of jazz academy (Summer Jazz 2012)- a totally wonderful week - still smiling.

I came with no improvisation experience at all, a grasp of the fundamentals of my instrument within a range, very limited knowledge of the standards and an open mind. I expected to learn how much I have to learn and to pick up a few tips along the way. I didn't expect to have such fun and to be part of such big steps taken by so many.

You and your tutors are masters at drawing out the abilities of students, stunning players to listen to and very generous with your time. From the first session you created a warm and mutually supportive atmosphere amongst the students - I genuinely did not detect any competitive tension or judgementalism or impatience within the very mixed ability groups.

The structure of instrument-based and ensemble-based sessions gives great balance to each day and the daily jazz club reinforces the importance of joy in the process rather than obsession with a "final" product.

For me personally the most important message was to create space - not just in playing but in preparing to play.

The week was full of unique and breathtaking moments - Martin's introductions to Cold Mountain, Dominic & Gareth's collaborations, Trudy with Anton Browne, AJ's brushwork - not to mention meeting more like-minded people in a few days than I have over the last few years.

Warmest wishes til next time,

Kate Sherwood, Trumpet, Summer Jazz Academy 2012

William Wilson

Dear Gabriel,

Winter Jazz 2011 wasn't just a jazz course - it was nothing less than a revelation and an affirmation of life itself.

Why is jazz so powerful for those who can hear it and why is it so difficult to explain to those who can't? Winter Jazz 2011 felt like stadium lighting blasting enlightenment at that conundrum. ("The development of human psychology inevitably leads to the birth of jazz"). ("It takes the mire of the swamp to produce the lotus flower").

Your passionate admiration for your father's work and everything he stood for was most moving. Your emphatic insistence on avoiding the hype was a tonic. Thus both your teaching and your playing were joy. "Beauty is truth". The three days of exceptional music had been an emotional roller-coaster for me so I knew that the final session and the "goodbye" routine would probably have me in tears. Sometimes it's best to just disappear even when it's the last thing you want to do. Thank you for creating an intense three days - not just jazz - fifty people from a very wide age/socio-economic/ethnic/musical ability range fusing into one big heart and safety net of support and love. I feel a burst of creative ambition waiting to be released once the massive exhaustion of three late nights and early mornings has worn off. I want to come back next year. My most sincere best wishes,

William Wilson - the man from Lyth Arts Centre, Piano, Winter Jazz Academy 2011



"Jazz Academy is a different world. Fantastic!"

"Great value for money"

"It did me a power of good"

"A revelation...my first real insight into jazz"

"I learned a hell of a lot"

"It's given me a good firm kick up the butt!"

"I've been on lots of Jazz courses - Jazz Academy was the first one where I really learned something"

"It's better than a fortnight in the West Indies!"


Quotes like these from former students echo our general aim - a great deal of fun plus a feast of good music. click here for a few unsolicited testimonials.