Summer School

Open to young musicians aged 12-21, this annual event is a unique opportunity to learn about world music first hand from internationally-renowned musicians born and brought up in all major musical traditions worldwide and develop their improvisation and creative skills. Players of non-European instruments are particularly welcome. Full board and lodging are provided.


'sitting in with the grand union orchestra'

also live-streamed on youtube!


Thank you for signing up for the Alternative Summer School. Please arrive at 10.30am each day. We will finish by 5.00pm, when (If necessary) you should arrange to be collected. On the last day, friends and families are invited to come along for an informal performance at 4.00pm.

Improvisation (collective as well as solo) is a key feature of the course and all music will therefore be taught and learnt by ear. Just a reminder that you will need to bring:

There will be a maximum of 20 live participants signed up in advance. Participants and visitors will have to register for Track & Trace in line with Rich Mix's safety procedures, which you can read here:

The programme for students each day is the same:

10.30: arrive and set up
11.00-1.00: workshop session 1, with 10-minute break
1.00: lunch (participants must bring their own food and drink)
2.30-4.30: workshop session 2, with 10-minute break
5.00: finish tidying up and leave

On Thursday October 29th from 4.00-5.00 we shall present an informal performance of the work created to an invited audience (including friends and families) and streamed online.

The course outline:

The course leader is Claude Deppa (trumpet, African drums); he will be supported throughout by a ‘house band’: Louise Elliott (flute, tenor saxophone); Kate Shortt (cello); Tony Haynes (piano, trombone); Joshua Brandler (guitar, bass guitar, drums). Each session will have different global music focus and leader from that tradition:

Tuesday (1): South African township, Claude Deppa (South Africa, trumpet)
Tuesday (2): South Asian music, Alaur Rahman (Bangladesh, voice, tabla)
Wednesday (1): Latin-America, Andres Lafone (Uruguay, bass guitar)
Wednesday (2): Jazz with African roots, Tony Kofi (Ghana, saxophones)
Thursday (1): Afro-Cuban, Shanti Jayasinha (Scotland/Sri Lanka, trumpet, cello)
Thursday (2): revision of work created, rehearsal and closing presentation

The musical content:

●Each session will tackle two numbers from the featured musical tradition
●The individual melodic lines and riffs will be taught slowly, phrase by phrase
●The bass line, rhythm, chords and scales (or ragas) will be learnt in a similar way
●The structure will be laid out, and the whole piece assembled and played through
●Any section that can feature improvised solos will be explained separately
●The number will then be played leaving space for those at home to join in.

More details can be found on the Workshops page.

The course will be live-streamed on

Online participants will receive a link via email each day or before the course starts.

Videos of the sessions will be available after the course.

For further information or to sign up, email


What’s in it for me?

Who is it for? 
Young musicians of secondary school age and up (12-21) interested in learning about music from other parts of the world, and/or who play a non-European instrument.

Grand Union’s Summer Schools are unique in both content and manner of teaching. Our policy towards the education and training of young musicians is clearly described in this article GUO Composer / Director Tony Haynes wrote for the influential on-line journal Music Education UK in 2018. Our Summer Schools put into practice the principles outlined in that article.

Summer School 2019

Let's leave it to the students themselves to describe their experience ( Flyer here), which they do very enthusiastically, followed by some reflections by Course Director Claude Deppa:

“What a fantastic summer school we had – I think it was the best one yet! We had a very enthusiastic group of young people who wanted to learn, and they got to experience a very wide range of musical genres - at least two a day! – and then went and got to compose their own pieces using these various styles.

"In the African drumming workshop we saw young people claiming their hands hurt, but did they stop? No, they would not, and we had to advise them to hold the metal legs of their chairs to cool their hands down!.Subsequently, their pieces all included very strong inflections of the drumming session. Clear influences they had been taught in the afternoon session of Chinese music also came out in their other compositions.

"The same was true of the South Asian music and the Afro-Cuban rhythms and melody we used. There were also young people who tried out instruments they’d never played before - a couple had blisters from playing bass guitar etc but would not give up practising. The after dinner sessions were a real hit too, and the one day we could not get in the kids were furious. They just wanted to play and then play some more.

"The hardest part was to see the young people not wanting to stop when we had run out of time. As usual there were pleas to make the summer school longer, but maybe we could look at doing a few days in winter or Easter to grow the residency idea.”

In this short video, Cassius Cobbson, an inventive drummer who joined GUYO in 2014 when he was 13 years old, tells Claude Deppa why the Summer School is so important to him. these two video links gu zheng (Chinese harp) virtuoso Zhu Xiao Meng leads GUYO musicians through the introduction and jazz section of an unusual version of a Chinese folk song The Song of Four Seasons., students describe their experience of past Summer Schools:


...and here is some of the music created:


Grand Union Orchestra musicians are not only internationally-acclaimed performers in their own right, they are also great communicators, highly experienced teachers and charismatic workshop leaders who have worked together as Grand Union's core artists for many years.  Many of them are featured in the  article cited above; they represent all the world’s major musical traditions, into which they were born and bred;




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