York Music Forum - aims and culture Information for parents - what we do and how we do it

Vision, Values and Culture

York Music Forum exists to give young musicians high quality and valuable musical experiences in what could be described as 'commercial' musical genres (jazz, pop, soul etc.). Our range of activities and our culture is designed around 5 interlinked concepts to help young people have a lifelong engagement with music.

  • Confidence: our activities are designed to help young musicians become more confident so they can express themselves on their chosen instrument. Confidence comes from developing musical skills in an encouraging environment. It's important that young musicians can perform without fear and can be comfortable in executing their musical ideas. This also helps develop confidence in a broader sense.
  • Knowledge: our activities and resources are designed to help young musicians develop their understanding of their instrument and music in general.
  • Groove: music isn't just about technical knowledge and developing skills. It's also about the joy and emotion that music brings. Our activities help young musicians engage with music which, in turn, helps with the development of emotional maturity
  • Together: this means to work as a team and develop skills which can be used in other aspects of young musicians' lives. This results in ensembles becoming 'tight' and able to play with accuracy and energy. 'Together' centres around:
  • Achievement: the culture of Forum is to aim for very high standards and for individuals to get real sense of satisfaction by fulfilling their potential. Success will mean different things for different young musicians and our activities are designed to give everyone the opportunity to succeed in their own way. Simply participating in music is really valuable for young people in so many different ways but our culture is to take that a step or 2 further. We aim to help young musicians create really high quality music that they can feel proud of. Preparing our musical material with an attention to detail and care leads to great concerts and a wonderful feeling of achievement.

Our Range Of Activities

Our 5 key concepts are achieved through the provision of the following activities and resources:


We have 5 ensembles with Ian Chalk as the Musical Director. This structure gives a range of opportunities for all young musicians and a consistency of approach.

As the young musicians become more skilled and more experienced they have the opportunity to progress through our ensembles. We have a 3 tier approach to our ensembles so that each young musician can learn in an environment which is suitable for them and also gives a clear progression path.

Tier 1:

  • An entry level where younger and less experienced musicians get their first exposure to our 5 learning outcomes
  • Suitable for approximately Grades 2 or 3
  • All instruments

Tier 2:

  • Intermediate level ensembles
  • Approximate Grade 4 and above
  • All instruments

Tier 3:

  • Advanced level - grade 7+
  • Invitation or audition only
  • 1 person per part
  • Aspire be one of the best ensembles of its type in the country

This is how our ensembles fit into our 3 tier approach:

1-2-1/ Smaller Group Sessions

We provide the opportunity for ensemble members to benefit from tuition with Ian on a 1-2-1 basis or within small groups as well as within the larger ensembles. The content of these sessions will depend on what our ensemble members would like but is likely to include:

  • harmony and music theory
  • developing jazz improvisation skills
  • sessions with ensemble sections to develop the current repertoire in preparation for performances
  • music arranging classes
  • individuals wishing to do any of the above

Ian provides the opportunity for instrumental tuition for brass players. Every young musician should have an instrumental tutor who is a specialist in the same instrument as you play so that you get the best possible guidance. We are very happy to provide recommendations for freelance instrumental tutors.

Workshops/ Masterclasses

  • Workshops: before the pandemic we had agreed a series of workshops with Leeds Conservatoire. The workshops were to be delivered by different Leeds Conservatoire tutors but we only managed one rhythm section session before sessions had to stop. We intend to restart these at the earliest opportunity. These will be specific in nature for particular groups so there will be sessions for specific instruments or subject matter.
  • Masterclasses: where workshops are designed to be highly participative, we are also looking to secure the services of 'headline' musicians to deliver masterclasses which will be inspirational as well as informative.

Online Learning

Along with 'in-person' provision of ensemble sessions and smaller group tuition we have also developed a range of online educational resources to help with Forum member's musical development. These are available to every Forum ensemble member as part of their membership.

Portal Online Resources: our Portal contains an Online Resources section where we can store any digital files (mp3s, videos, pdf etc.). This is where students can access repertoire and technical exercises to help with their development separate from ensemble sessions

Interactive Learning: we have developed a series of browser-based interactive learning resources developed specially for our ensembles members to help them work on their skills away from the rehearsal room. All the exercises and drills contained in the resources have rhythm section playalong tracks to make learning fun. All these are available via the Portal (with more on the way) but you can take a look at them now by using the buttons below.

Ensemble Prep Packs: for each ensemble Ian writes bespoke musical arrangements and creates recordings of them so ensemble members know what the new music sounds like. These bespoke arrangements mean we play music that nobody else in the world does.

As new material is arranged and recorded a 'Prep Pack' is made available to ensemble members via a webpage for each tune. The 'Prep Pack' includes the following:

  • individual instrumental parts (including leadsheets, TAB and chord sheets for rhythm section players)
  • information about the composition and composer
  • a playalong track for those who'd like to practice their improvisation plus chord sheets
  • the 'Online Mixing Desk' for that tune

The 'Online Mixing Desk' is a technology we've developed which allows musicians to become familiar with new material very quickly. It's viewed in a browser and is laid out as a studio audio mixing desk with the demo of the tune preloaded into the mixing desk. Each channel corresponds with a section in the ensemble (brass, woodwind, rhythm etc.) and each channel can be muted/soloed so you can hear just one section or a combination so you can hear exactly how your part should be played/phrased and how it fits with the rest of the band. There's a click track for the pulse (which can be muted) and faders so you can create and download your own mix. It's great fun to play along to and excellent preparation for ensemble sessions.

Click the button below for an example of a Prep Pack.


Every ensemble will be guaranteed a minimum number of performance opportunities of 4 per calendar year although we would expect more than that for our Tier 2 and Tier 3 ensembles. These performances will be open to the public, in a good venue with good production values (lighting, PA etc.).

Performing in public helps build confidence, gives a real sense of achievement and provides an overall goal for the weekly ensemble sessions.

Attending Concerts

There will be regular opportunities to attend inspiring performances by professional musicians/ensembles around the region. We'll organise tickets and should be able to secure group discounts as a result of booking on a group basis.

Ensemble Session Timetabling and Venue


All our ensemble sessions take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

  • Mondays: 6pm Junior Band
  • Tuesdays: 6pm - Big Band, 7:30pm - RnB Orchestra
  • Wednesdays: 6pm - Funk Soul Band , 7:30pm - Jazz Orchestra

All ensemble sessions are 75 minutes, Smaller Group sessions are 60 minutes and 1-2-1 sessions can be 30 or 60 minutes.

We provide our activities all year round - Sessions during Easter, Summer and Christmas school breaks will be optional and you will only be charged for the ones that members actually attend. Easter and Summer are the times we would expect to provide larger additional sessions such as workshops and masterclasses alongside the regular ensemble sessions.


Ensemble Sessions: all our ensemble session take place at The Hive Creative Arts Centre at Manor CE Academy in their wonderful in-house theatre. The theatre is also where we will hold many of our public concerts.

Views of The Hive and its 210 seater theatre

1-2-1/Smaller Group Sessions: these sessions will take place at Ian's custom-built teaching studio at Bad Bargain Lane in York. The studio is spacious, sound-proofed with a kitchen area so ensemble members can make drinks. There is a also a toilet and a comfortable seating area.

Membership Fees

Ensemble Sessions

  • Ensemble sessions are all 75 minutes long and cost £6.25
  • All term time sessions are chargeable (including half term sessions)
  • All sessions during the traditional Easter, Summer and Christmas breaks are optional
  • All sessions can be found on your Portal Calendar and all ensemble members will be added to the Easter, Summer and Christmas ensemble sessions. It's really easy for you to remove them from those ensemble sessions from within the calendar. Early reminders will be given to remove members from activities outside of term time if the member won't be attending
  • 1 month's notice is required to cancel Forum membership

1-2-1/ Smaller Group Sessions

  • 1-2-1 sessions are charged at £20.00 per hour (£10.00 for 30 minutes) if already a member of a Forum ensemble (less than 2/3rds of Ian's normal hourly tutoring rate)
  • Smaller group sessions are for 60 minutes and are charged at £5.00 per hour per attendee (minimum number of 3 attendees to allow the session to go ahead)

Workshops/ Masterclasses

Fees for these events will vary depending on the cost of providing them and attendance is optional. You will be informed of the cost of each workshop/ masterclass when each event is announced. Members won't be automatically added to these events and you'll register on the Portal for workshops and masterclasses.

Payment Options

Your Forum account is settled at the end of every 3 months (i.e. November, February, May and August). Rather than invoices being issued at that time you will receive a notification (text and email) 2 weeks before the end of each 3 month period that payment is due to be made. Payment is made online via the 'Account and Invoices' tab of the Portal choosing the button marked 'Make Payment'. An administration fee of £20.00 will be charged to cover the cost of chasing late payments. Having said that we would like to give you greater flexibility in how you pay Forum fees so there are 2 additional options:

  • Partial Payments: you may prefer to make a payment more frequently than every 3 months so partial payments can be made at any time to reduce your account balance. This will allow you to spread the cost of membership fees across the 3 months. However, accounts must be brought up to date at the end of November, February, May and August respectively. Partial payments are made using the 'Make Payment' button in the Portal.
  • Autopay: this is where you can log your credit card details in the Portal and we take a payment at the end of each 3 month period to bring your account up to date. This is for you if you'd rather not have to remember to make the payment yourself.

Families with financial challenges: where an ensemble member benefits from Pupil Premium or receives free school meals there will no charge for attending Forum sessions.

About Ian Chalk

Ian is the Musical Director for all our ensembles so it makes sense to tell you something about him and his approach.

Ian directing the YMF Jazz Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall (Music For Youth Proms Nov 2018)

Based in York, Ian is a trumpet player performing throughout the UK and a well-known brass and jazz educator. He is a director of Yorkshire Performing Arts Ltd (YMF's parent company). Ian directs 6 ensembles through York Music Forum and York Jazz Initiative. Ian also provides individual brass tuition in schools and universities as well as privately at Ian Chalk Brass Studio.

Ian with Firebird Quartet

York Music Forum's Jazz Education Programme was a finalist in the Music Teacher Awards For Excellence in 2019 (Best Musical Initiative) and Ian was also a finalist in the York Culture Awards 2018 (Inspirational Teacher).


Rather than a 'teacher' or a 'conductor', Ian sees his role as being nearer to that of a coach. He provides an encouraging environment, resources and opportunities for young musicians to develop their skills and knowledge. In the end no music tutor can make a young person an incredible musician. That can only be done by the young musician themselves taking their instrument seriously and committing sufficient time and energy to grooving their skills. Ian's role is to provide a pathway, support and inspiration. He has a reputation for helping young musicians make high quality music within energetic and accurate ensembles through attention to detail while having lots of fun along the way!

Ian is first aid trained and DBS registered.


  • There will always be at least one other adult present at sessions as well as Ian
  • All Forum members sign in as they arrive via our iPad system which automatically creates an evacuation list in the event of a fire alarm or other emergency at the Hive. They also sign out the same way
  • All our electrical equipment is PAT tested
  • We carry public liability insurance
  • Free hearing protection is available to all Forum members for use during sessions

Covid Safety

  • Hand sanitiser is available at the theatre entrance and Forum members are encouraged to use it before and after sessions
  • Approximately half-way through each Forum session there will be a 5 minute break where we open the rear loading door of the theatre which floods the area with fresh air to maintain good levels of ventilation and to limit the build up of airborne particles
  • The sign-in and sign-out processes can be done with a QR code available in the sign in app on your smartphone. This limits the number of times the iPad is touched

Next Steps

If you're not already a Forum member then use the button below to complete the Registration Form


Please visit the 'Contact Us' page of our website


York Music Forum is an activity stream of Yorkshire Performing Arts Ltd www.yorkshireperformingarts.com