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Composition Summer School

Have your music brought alive by a group of NYJC’s exceptional young improvisers aged 14-18, selected from NYJC’s national summer school audition tour

Be inspired. Be empowered. Be creative!

A unique and inspirational opportunity for creative young musicians aged 14-18 to take their music making to the next level: Collectively exploring their creative ideas, developing their compositional skills and creative palette to establish a unique and personal creative style.

Each composer/songwriter will generate new music for one of NYJC’s five nine-piece ensembles, working in a truly welcoming and creative environment, supported by world-class composers and top-ranking young improvisers.

Previous experience of composing for improvisers isn’t obligatory – we’re keen to unlock the creative door for young creatives from all creative backgrounds.  

Applicants are not expected to play a musical instrument or improvise (It’s fine if you do!) Not all professional composers/songwriters are accomplished instrumentalists. That’s why we’re pairing up the composers & songwriters with NYJC summer school’s 45 advanced instrumentalists and singers. (We’ll confirm the specific instrumentation of each composers’ nine-piece ensemble when offering them a place. Basic structure is a 4-piece “rhythm section” and five “front line” players)

Find out more about the course & see what our 2023 cohort had to say!

Listen to the work of our 2023 Composition Summer School here!


Application Timeline: Apply now! 
The Composition School application process is now open! 

Residential Course’s Timetable: 
12pm on Thursday 8th August 2024 – Course arrival
6pm on Tuesday 13th August 2024 – Course departure

Application Process

Apply now!  

Applications are open for 14-18 year olds (19 if taking a gap year). Candidates will be asked to complete an online application form accompanied by one example of their creative work (a recording as a file, link to a score or lead sheet) The application form will take 15-20 minutes to complete. Additional examples of work will be welcome but optional.

Application deadlines 

Sunday 19th May 2024: Application deadline for submitting an online application 

20th-21st May 2024: Applications processed by NYJC’s creative team 

28th-29th May 2024: Places offered by e-mail 

Come and meet us before you apply: 

We’re keen to make sure everyone feels comfortable about coming to work with lovely NYJC, and understand that applicants may want to get to know the creative team leading the course before applying for a place on the composition summer residential course. We therefore offer two optional opportunities for applicants to have a conversation with the Composition Summer School’s lead tutor, NYJC’s Founding Exec. Artistic Director Issie Barratt. 

  1. Come and Meet Issie Barratt in person” as part of NYJC’s Easter Audition Tour. If you would like to attend one of NYJC’s optional ‘Come and Meet’ sessions during the audition tour, please submit a request for a place by completing the online form below. Please submit by 6th March.
  2. “Come and Meet Issie Barratt online by attending an online ‘Q&A’ session with Issie Barratt @ 5pm on 24th April, 30th April or 6th May. In order to book your preferred session please complete the online form below by 15th April. You will be sent a Zoom link for your session nearer the time.


The Composition Project registration fee is £450*.

*Financial Help

We’re committed to making sure no creative young person misses out because they can’t afford the fees, so NYJC offers means-tested bursaries for those needing financial help which can include covering the full costs of the course enrolment fee and transport costs.

It’s a really magical, once in a lifetime, highly memorable kind of thing we’ll be doing! Can’t wait to meet everyone!” Issie Barratt, NYJC’s Artistic Director

Working with Issie, introduced me to so many new sounds and ideas: It was truly inspirational – helping me find my own voice and style” Past Composition Student

What the Course Offers

An insight into how to share your creative ideas with improvisers (in ways that allows them to contribute to your story-telling and musical journey) through exploration and experimentation within a diverse range of musical styles, elements and stimuli. NYJC is known for ensuring all young creators feel able to share their personal interests and musical likes, collectively finding new and collaborative ways of creating a bespoke and highly programmatic sound world.

ALUMNI: Previous composition students, including Laura Jurd, Alexandra Ridout, Rosie Turton, Oli Vibrans, Alex Paxton, Jas Kayser, have gone on to flourish in compositional careers either writing to commission or for their own ensembles, often being awarded JazzFM and Parliamentary Jazz awards and Ivor and Paul Hamlyn composition awards.


• Four days of seminars, tutorials (exploring an eclectic mix of contemporary works for small ensembles) and supervised composition time (supported by musicians to try things out)
• Two days of getting the music workshopped, video-ed and performed (Participants are welcome to submit the video of their piece in their GCSE and A’ level portfolio).

Who’s Leading the Course?

Issie Barratt

NYJC’s Artistic Director (Multi award-winning international composer, saxophonist, conductor, producer and educator) Issie Barratt, supported by 10 members of NYJC’s faculty of international artists. Cited as one of the 40 most influential women in the music industry (by BBC R4’s Women in Music Power list 2018), Issie is known internationally for her eclectic approach to creative music making, both through her catalogue of compositions and record label Fuzzy Moon Records. She’s also recognised for her commitment to supporting and championing the creativity of young musicians (from beginner to rising-star and young professionals): Establishing the Jazz Faculty at Trinity Laban in 1999 and National Youth Jazz Collective in 2007; leading the jazz strand on Sound and Music’s week long summer school since 2008 and working with composition and improvisation students at most of the UK’s conservatoires. Many of her students have gone on to win grammys, JazzFM and All Parliamentary Jazz Awards, Paul Hamlyn and Ivors composition awards and be mercury nominated.

“So many of today’s rising artists are leading genre-fluid, autobiographical projects that are more personal to them: Drawing on their particular interests, cultural heritage and roots – rather than rigidly following any curriculum taught in school” Issie Barratt, NYJC’s Artistic Director

What is NYJC?

Examples of compositions by NYJC’s teaching artists performed by 2022’s summer school combos

Red Squirrel by Zoe Rahman

Riot Music by Soweto Kinch

Syncomania by Soweto Kinch

Tribal Warrior by Rowland Sutherland

Los Indianos by Tori Freestone

Jazz happens in real time – once”

Graham Collier OBE

Bassist, Bandleader and Composer

Sharing my creative ideas with other young musicians and hearing my ideas played live, rather than on my computer, totally transformed my way of creating music

Past Composition Student

The Location

Benenden School in Kent

Benenden School is an independent boarding school for girls in Kent, England. It is located in Hemsted Park at Benenden in the Kent countryside, between Cranbrook and Tenterden.

Benenden opened a brand new School Hall and state-of-the-art Music School in 2022. Designed by the multi award-winning Guy Hollaway Architects, the new School Hall will offer state-of-the-art acoustics and will give audiences a truly amazing performance experience.

The Music School also features a smaller Recital Hall, with capacity for an audience of around 150 people, offering a performance space in a more intimate environment, perfect for rehearsals and smaller performances such as the nightly jam sessions and tutors concert. The Music School has more than 20 practice rooms and classrooms, as well as a smaller performance room, IT suite and recording and performance booths.