Summer School


Our sixth annual residential Summer School took place at Writtle University College, Chelmsford, from Monday July 29th to Thursday August 1st.. Flyer here. This is how Course Director Claude Deppa summed up the experience:

“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.”

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.

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.

In this short video, Cassius Cobbson, an inventive drummer who joined GUYO in 2014 when he was 13 years old, tells Claude Deppa why Grand Union is so important to him.

The performance in these two short video clips from GUYO's concert Rhythms & Revolution
at London's Rich Mix is led by Brazilian Ricardo Axe, one of the Grand Union tutor-musicians on the 2018  course


And in 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.

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