2014 Winner Parliamentary Jazz Award for Jazz Education
“An inspirational jazz educator” Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise Magazine
“A passionate advocate for nurturing creativity” Helen Wallace, Kings Place
“Her amazing breadth of skills are JUST what the music world needs” Mike Gibbs
Issie is an extremely passionate, dedicated and highly accomplished educator, committed to helping each student make their own bespoke journey of discovery and self-expression, while simultaneously learning to master their craft.
In 1999 Issie set up the highly acclaimed Jazz Faculty at TrinityLaban, which she headed until 2004. During her 5 years as head of department she founded and directed the College’s Contemporary Jazz Ensemble (which is still going today), performing at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, Bulls Head (Barnes), Blackheath Concert Halls and Jazz in the Round (Balham). Issie stepped down in 2004 when she was offered the post of Jazz Fellow, allowing her more time for her compositional and performance activities.
A much sought after composition teacher, Issie continues to teach composition to undergraduate and post graduate conservatoire students, with her students regularly wining awards and prizes, such as the Dankworth Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011, BASCA’s new British Composer Award for jazz composition in 2010, All Party Parliamentary Jazz Awards and JazzFM awards with one being nominated for a Mercury Award in 2016
ONE TO ONE COMPOSITION STUDENTS – PAST AND PRESENT – INCLUDE
“Issie is truly inspiring, both as a teacher and as a composer – the kind of teacher who makes learning composition feel like unlocking something that’s already present inside you; she tackles technique with rigour, but is able to de-mystify complex aspects of musical and aesthetic thought so successfully that a compositional ‘problem’ that has troubled you for weeks will seem to resolve itself effortlessly after one lesson, leaving you wondering why it was ever a problem in the first place!”
“Issie’s incredible instinct for beauty and extensive knowledge of harmony allow her to be one of the most insightful teachers I have ever come across. She has the ability to make the simplest of changes yield the greatest results”.
“Issie puts in so much more than what’s on the timetable – it was evident from our very first lesson together that she genuinely cares about supporting musicians as individuals. In terms of approaches and materials, I always felt she was helping me to find the things I needed to find, taking account of my musical history and background. Many of the most rewarding parts of my career as it develops post-music college are either directly or indirectly influenced by the help and opportunities she has offered me; that’s why she really stands apart.”
While studying with Issie James won the the Jazzorg/ Worshipful Company award for jazz composition. Shortly after studying with Issie, James went on to win the British Composer Award for his contemporary jazz orchestra composition, Causeway Suite.
Jody Jenkins – Media composer (television and film).
“Issie was one of the most inspirational teachers I have encountered to date, in any field of the study of music. Her musical enthusiasm is extremely broad ranging and her commitment to her subject matter is tireless. She drew from huge experience and in-depth knowledge of the subject and made the study of harmony and counterpoint relevant to my own musical language. She was always able to vividly demonstrate how the musical vocabulary of “classical” and “baroque” music was in fact the predecessor of later styles that interested me at the time, such as jazz”.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of piece I bring to a lesson with Issie – her breadth of musical knowledge and enthusiasm never fails to take the lesson in an exciting direction. Her musical instincts are second to none, without disregarding the student’s own musical preferences. Most valuable of all, her love of music and relationship with sound is unavoidably infectious – a quality that is often hard to come by”.
“Not only does Issie teach with a refreshing clarity but, importantly, she really enjoys the process of teaching….& that moment of seeing the student’s “light bulb of realisation” click on. She also has the most amazing ears of anyone I’ve ever met!”
“Issie is a stunning composer/arranger and a experienced and committed teacher from whom I have learnt a great deal. Her profound harmonic understanding, unique compositional approach to orchestration opened up new sound worlds, and significantly helped me to develop and shape my own skills as a composer and arranger.”
“Issie is one of the most inspiring and informative teachers I have ever had and has done more for young composers than anybody I know”.
While studying with Issie at Trinity, Matt won the ‘Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition’ two years running! In 2009 for “Big Tune” and 2010 for Unweaving the Rainbow. The rules for the Dankworth Prize have since been revised so that no oneelse can win the prize for a 2nd time. Fair enough!)
OTHER CONSERVATOIRE PROJECTS IN THE UK. Issie has also led (and assessed) student performance and composition projects at the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music and Leeds College of Music and has often been commissioned to write works for their Big Bands and Contemporary Jazz Ensembles as well as co-directing and composing for the multi- collegiate “Conservatoires UK Big Band” as part of the International Leeds Jazz Conference (2002-2008) leading performances along side fellow artists and educators Bob Mintzer, Tim Garland, Mike Hall, Julian Joseph, Gerard Presencer, Mike Gibbs and Mark Donlon. She was also invited to conduct the CUK Big Band at the International Association of Jazz Educators’ 2008 conference in Toronto.
“The program featured performances of original big band compositions by the likes of Mike Gibbs, Matthew Bourne, Mark Donlon and Issie herself. This was my first encounter with her music and even amongst a program of such quality, Issie’s pieces stood out as having a level of subtlety and sophistication I had previously not heard in the big band genre. This feeling was heightened by having the pieces rehearsed and directed by Issie herself, which allowed me to witness her full commitment to her compositional visions and the eloquence with which she is able to communicate them to performers” (Matt Roberts).
In 2006 Issie became the Founding Artistic Director of the National Youth Jazz Collective, – a vibrant National Youth Music Organisation originally core funded by Youth Music now an NPO funded by Arts Council England which supports the creative and educational needs of the young jazz musician on a regional and national basis. NYJC focuses on small group improvisation, creating a pathway of progression designed to support young jazz musicians from beginner to emerging professionals, through a rolling programme of regional activities across England, a National Youth Jazz Summer School, feeder Summer Short Course and regional CPD sessions supporting the needs of regional educators and music leaders.
‘Our aim is to demonstrate good practice in the teaching of jazz, while demystifying the musical process, often helping non-jazz music leaders find ways in which they can draw on their own musical skills to support and develop the needs of the young jazz musician.’
NYJC now boasts a faculty of 70 of the nations most inspirational teaching artists, – including president Dave Holland and 6 vice presidents Sir Karl Jenkins, Julian Joseph OBE, Norma Winstone MBE, Helen Mayhew, John Fordham and Bob Blizzard MP
(See the Yamaha Educational Supplement article for more info).
Issie is also one of 5 lead composition tutors on the Sound and Music Summer School for Young Composers in partnership with the Purcell School of Music (established summer 2008) each working with a core group of 15 gifted and talented young composers aged 18 and younger. During the summer school the 75 young composers have the opportunity to work in their own style of composition by choosing from one of the five strands, working with professional composers and musicians from a wide variety of musical traditions, from contemporary concert music and jazz, to world and new media – explore different ways of making music before recording the final piece of music they’ve created with a bespoke chamber group of professional musicians.
CONSERVATOIRE AND YOUTH PROJECT COMMISSIONS
Issie has also been commissioned to write works for the Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra, St Olaf’s Big Band (Minneapolis), The National Youth Jazz Collective’s collaborations with South Asian Music Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, South West Music School and Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s On The Slide Project, with Dennis Rollins.
ADJUDICATOR AND JAZZ MENTOR FOR:
- Music for Youth’s National Festival (since 2001)
- BASCA’s BCA jazz composition award (Since 2010 – funded by the PRS Foundation for New Music and supported by BBC Radio 3).
- Watermill Jazz Young Composers Award (2012 – 2014 funded by the PRS Foundation for New Music).
- Yamaha Jazz Experience Prize @ the Cheltenham Jazz Festival ( 2012-2014)
- Essentially Ellington – Lincoln Center/Barbican Centre/Guildhall/ NYJC Ellington Youth Festival ( 2012-2014)
- Conservatoires UK’s Jazz-composition award, funded by the PRS-Foundation for New Music (2003 – 2005)
- External Examiner Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Jazz Degree 2013-2016
- Examiner for the RCM chamber music module (Jazz performances) 2002
- Examiner for the London University’s external BMus Degree (1999 to its closure in 2004)
- External examiner for Chichester College’s diploma in jazz 1999-2001
- One of the composers commissioned by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music to write piano accompaniments for their new, internationally distributed, jazz horn syllabi grades 1 to 5.
“Perceptions of Leadership Progression Pathways & Nurturing Aspiring Female Jazz Leaders ” with co-writers Dr Andrea Creech from the Institute of Education. Commissioned by the National Youth Jazz Collective Funded by Youth Music
“The history of women Jazz Musicians in the UK” with co-writers Dr Catherine Parsonage and Dr Kathy Dyson commissioned by the Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica.
“The talented and gifted young Jazz Musicians of the C21st: Identifying their needs, assessing their access to national and regional opportunities and recognising the deficits on a regional and national scale”. Youth Music Feb 2006
“Researching group assessment: Jazz in the conservatoire”: British Journal of Music in Education 2005 Cambridge University Press.
On going research project – “Gender in Jazz” Led by Issie Barratt and the National Youth Jazz Collective in collaboration with Youth Music and the Institute of Education (2010 onwards)
COMMENTS FROM FELLOW MUSICIANS INVOLVED IN EDUCATION
“Issie is hugely passionate about her teaching and writing, and this comes across strongly every time we speak about music and teaching philosophies. She has a huge amount to offer as a teacher in Higher Education” Mark Lockheart– TrinityLaban College of Music and Dance
Watching her in action has been an education in itself, as well as being delightful – seeing the smiles on the students faces as she deftly cajoles their inner souls to the surface, unleashing their musical ability and demystifying many aspects of our harmonic language – not just once but at every meeting at which I was a participant. My concerns when witnessing her in action were more along the lines of how we could ensure getting more teachers of this calibre and level of intuition of the student mind, to further establish a vibrant future for jazz here. Mike Gibbs
“I have witnessed her dedication to teaching and seen the fruits of her work” John Warren
“Issie has a gift for enlightening students of all ages and levels of ability (from beginner to professional). Often explaining to them the inner workings of various jazz styles, and teaching them about form, structures, improvisation and orchestration, and in so doing, inspiring them to create a high standard of compositions” Rowland Sutherland – Guildhall, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music
“Her ability to converse between perceived styles, and to tread a path which balances tonal and atonal music gives her a lot to offer students of composition and jazz particularly in terms of giving them options to broaden their palette of sound … Her broad range of experience makes her an ideal role model for developing musicians” Mick Foster – TrinityLaban College of Music and Dance