Inspiring the next generation: an evening with Jess Gillam


Ten AYM Award winners recently came together with AYM Alumna and Patron, Jess Gilliam, for an evening of music making and mentoring. The gathering at London’s Kings Place came the day after Jess performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall alongside AYM Alumnus Sean Shibe (guitar). It also coincided with the launch of Jess’s debut record “Rise” with Decca Classics. You can find more information about this HERE.

As a recipient of AYM support throughout her teenage years, and still only 21 herself, Jess had a lot in common with our current Award winners.

“Not only is she a phenomenal musician but having been supported by AYM until relatively recently, the young people can see that talent, hard work and passion can indeed show results!” Philip Jones, Chairman of AYM’s Board of Trustees


Jess curated an inspiring evening of activities including a lively improvisation-based warm up, coaching and Q and A time. Each Awardee performed for the group and received feedback from Jess and from their peers.

Two themes emerged as the evening developed: making the most of practice time (and enjoying it) and balancing technical challenges with communicating the emotions and story of a piece of music. Jess shared many of her own practice secrets and tactics for overcoming performance nerves.


“Jess gave me the idea of visualising my playing instead of just hearing it. This allowed me to relate my vision with my playing which helps me to be more accurate.”
Raphael (clarinet)


“Jess said that I should always breathe in most of the rests on my music, this made the piece have an intensive atmosphere. Thanks to Jess’s workshop I use mental practice more often. This is when you practice the fingering of a piece without physically touching the instrument.”
Daniel (cello)


“I think that the most helpful bits of advice that Jess gave me were: 1. Colour coding to mark dynamics, phrasing and timing (and more) and 2. Recording your practice to then look back at it and tell yourself what you need to practice next time.”
Molly (violin)


“She showed me ways to be more expressive, like swaying from side to side or dancing along to a video of the piece before practicing. She also recommended singing the piece and advised trying to warm up by pretending you were playing your instrument (air violin).”
Sophia (violin)


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