The National Youth Concert and Children’s Bands were founded to nurture talented young woodwind, brass and percussion players of all backgrounds from across the UK, and as a flagship for promoting the wind band and its vibrant and varied repertoire.
Our young musicians are tutored and conducted by some of the UK’s leading professional musicians and educators, who are all specialists in their field and have a broad range of experience teaching at highly respected institutions and playing in professional orchestras, as well as the West End.
We also take great pride in our team of qualified pastoral staff, who are on-site 24/7 to make sure everyone is happy and healthy, putting on entertainment in the evenings and providing any support that’s needed. Safeguarding and the well-being of our course members is of primary importance to the National Youth Concert Band CIC.
The main band rehearsals will make up the bulk of the week, working towards the final concert which is open to family, friends and the general public. When players arrive on the first day, they are registered and then shown to their rooms before the first full rehearsal. We always accommodate our young musicians with others of a similar age, and it doesn’t take long for new friendships to blossom!
Specialist sectional tutors will take intensive rehearsals during the first two or three days and we have lead wind, brass and percussion tutors on hand throughout the course. Many of our pastoral staff are also highly qualified musicians and they love to get involved too!
A variety of creative workshops are also included in the week, such as jazz and composition, as well as masterclasses and other performance opportunities. Players can work individually with our accompanist in residence, Hannah Mitchell, and perform to their peers in a solos concert held in the stunning Great Hall.
Members have the option to join a chamber ensemble, such as a saxophone quartet or wind or brass quintet, which many of them may not have featured in before. Later in the week, we take these groups off site to perform at a local care home and share our music-making with the community. Older students can use this time for extra study or revision if they wish, as we’re aware it can be a stressful time with GCSE and A Level exams just around the corner!
Between rehearsals, there’s something for everyone – we have a movie night, games night with karaoke and sports events throughout the week, ensuring players can relax and get to know their band-mates socially as well as musically. At NYCB, our young musicians develop skills and friendships that will last a lifetime.
The NYCB Directors
Our Musical Director Jonathan Parkes grew up in the brass band world and played Principal Trombone for the Rotherham Schools Youth Brass Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain before going on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester under Chris Houlding and Andrew Berryman.
Whilst at the RNCM he started his career as a freelance trombonist working with the Halle Orchestra and went on to work with all the professional orchestras in the North West of England, including the Manchester Camerata, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera North and Northern Ballet. In 2004 he played Principal Trombone for the Philharmonia of the Nations in Germany, touring Europe and South Africa. Jonathan has taught all over the Greater Manchester region since 2001 and began tutoring and directing music courses shortly after and began conducting in 2005.
His first full time appointment came in 2011 when he was appointed musical director of the Dobcross Youth Brass Band. The following year he was appointed MD of the National Children’s Wind Orchestra – a prestigious residential course performing concerts in venues such as the Cadogan Hall, Royal College of Music and Saffron Hall. In 2016 he was delighted to be appointed Musical Director of the Werneth Concert Band. In September 2023, Jonathan will take the role of Head of Prep School Music at Oldham Hulme Grammar School.
Course Director Kathryn Wood’s day job is as a translator and languages tutor, but she also has a broad range of experience in running music courses and events, both in the UK and abroad. This includes:
- Orchestral Manager for the National Children’s Wind and Chamber Orchestras (2014 – 2018)
- Conference Producer for a London-based FTSE 250 company (2015 – 2017)
- Volunteering at a music school in Peru, running a variety of musical groups for children and young adults (2012 – 2013)
- Executive Committee for Durham University Orchestral Society (2011 – 2012)
Kathryn is also a keen violinist, playing regularly with the Stevenage Symphony Orchestra and working with the committee to arrange concerts.
Course Director and Senior Tutor in Brass Jonny Watkins has been playing the trombone since the age of 7. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Eric Crees and Simon Wills and with Don Lucas at Boston University during which time he toured extensively with the European Union Youth Orchestra and won the International Trombone Association Quartet Competition with the Spitfire Trombone Quartet. From 2011-13 Jonny was the Principal Trombone in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and, in the 2017 season, was Associate Principal Trombone in the National Centre for Performing Arts Orchestra in Beijing, China. He has trialled for positions in many of the UK’s leading orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philhamonic Orchestra and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
Jonny was the trombone section tutor for both the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain and the Hampshire County Youth Wind Ensemble and has led masterclasses at the Hong Kong Baptist University and twice at the Conservatorio Profesional de Musica Xoan Montes in Lugo, Spain.
In his spare time, Jonny can be found enjoying a good pub quiz or screaming at the TV in frustration when his beloved Arsenal are playing...