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Islington musician launches workshops to help young girls into jazz music

Former barrister sets up workshops for young girls in bid to address ‘gender imbalance’ in jazz

16 February, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Jazz musician Maddy Shaw

A FORMER barrister who gave up her legal career to focus on her musical talents is launching workshops in a bid to encourage more young girls into jazz music.

Maddy Shaw, 42, said there is a “gender imbalance” in jazz music, seeing it populated with more men than women.

As a flute player, her interest in jazz peaked in her 20s and four years ago she devoted herself full-time to being a musician.

She is now studying for a postgraduate qualification in Jazz Flute at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Ms Shaw, who lives off Holloway Road, said: “It’s quite striking in jazz music that there’s a gender imbalance and it’s very male heavy.

“It’s been a slow progression to balance. My experience has been very positive and I’ve had lots of support from men and women to date.

“There are other initiatives but nothing that supports that early interaction in jazz for young girls.”

Four years ago, Ms Shaw ended her 15-year career as a barrister to focus on her work and music teaching, as well as her band The 3a.m. Jazz Trio.

“The careers are similar in ways – there’s the performing and improvising aspect,” she said.

Starting in March, her pilot project, The Girl Plays Jazz, will launch at the New Unity Hall on Upper Street.

Its aim is to bring girls together who have a minimum two years playing any instrument and teach them jazz improvisation alongside a house band of professional musicians.

For anyone feeling anxious about the prospect, Ms Shaw said: “I just say come along and give it a go. It’s incredibly rewarding.

“We want to interact with them and show them how much fun it can be.”

The class costs £35 and a bursary scheme will be on offer for future workshops and summer schools for those families on low incomes.

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