the weekend jazz university


Hi! I'm Nick Weldon, jazz musician and teacher, and together with my partner Andra Sparks and the team of top players and teachers we work with here, I bid you welcome to Jazz School UK.

We would like you to join our innovative programme of jazz learning at the inspiring Shoefactory venue in Rushden, Northamptonshire, England.

Whatever your instrument or playing level, we know we can help you improve.

At the heart of our programme are the Ensembles - these are tutored workshops meeting once a month over the year, with a set repertoire of tunes and a clearly defined range of improvising skills to work on.

In the 2013-14 season we are running nine Jazz Ensembles (rhythm section plus frontline) covering the whole range of playing experience and ability from jazz beginner through to aspiring professional, a Jazz Singing Ensemble and a Guitar Improvers Ensemble.

"Got lots to practise. I went on a beginners jazz course at ...... university ages ago and they started with Mack the Knife and we stayed with it for weeks. I learned more with you in the hour than in weeks on the ...... University course. So that is good!" teresa

And that's exactly what we promise - lots learned and lots more to practise. Like all our ensemble players, Teresa has made fantastic progress over the year. Knowing the tunes in advance - exploring new improvising skills and coming back to them repeatedly to consolidate knowledge - establishing musical relationships in a regular group - all these things give purpose and meaning to your practice between each meeting. Improvement is unavoidable!

In conjunction with these, and also for players who can't get here on such a regular basis, we offer short courses (New Year Jazz Piano Improvers, Easter Jazz Beginners, Jeff Clyne Bass Festival, Big Band Day, and three Summer Schools), as well as individual tuition in jazz piano, jazz singing, double bass, theory and improvisation for all instruments, and audition preparation for prospective College students.

We're very flexible. Come for as much or as little as you can - put together ensembles, individual tuition and courses in any combination you like!

Once upon a time it was only by giving up everything to go to College that you could be sure of sustained development in your playing. This is still a great thing to do (if you can afford the time and £9,000 plus per year tuition fees), and we successfully prepare players for College auditions every year. But we know that for many of you, players of all standards from beginner to professional level, this route is impossible, and you are stuck with a frustrating, piecemeal programme of your own invention - backing tracks, lessons here and there with a local player, aimless jam sesssions and hodge-podge recreational Summer Schools where expectations are low.

But here's our promise. If you're serious about your playing, we're serious about your learning, whether you're a jazz beginner or a seasoned gigster.

All the teaching offered is of Conservatoire quality (and backed by long and varied playing experience), and is designed to deliver the same long-term progress. You won't come out with a degree, (or a debt the size of a house!) but you'll know how to play...

If you are new to Jazz School UK, we hope to see you soon. And of course, we very much look forward to welcoming back all our regular players for the 2013-14 season. Please browse the site for more information. Our calendar of events, registration form, news feed and Mailing List link are on the left.

playing levels

If you are curious about the playing levels of the Ensembles, please have a look at our Playing Level Information Sheet.


youtube links


Jazz School UK YouTube Playlist
Check out these great clips of Ensemble tunes

The Missing Beat
See Trevor Tomkins in action up in the rafters at the Shoefactory

Bass Beginnings
How Nick Weldon came to love the double bass

Swingin' The Blues
Malcolm Earle Smith leads a swinging student mainstream session at the Shoefactory

Mumbles 1
Clark Terry tells it like it is

Mumbles 2
and one more time!





Join our Mailing List now



Here's the FORM to register your interest in the 2013/14 season.


Ensemble players on all schemes have access (with the login credentials you have been sent) to our members area, where we have links to tune sheets and other background material.


Thanks for reading!