Music director, composer and jazz musician Jilly is a multi-instrumentalist who works with schools and youth and adult community groups on songwriting and performance projects. She uses improvisation as a way for the individual voice to be heard and celebrated within a cooperative group setting.

Founder and Creative Director of BlueJam Arts ( she enjoys collaborating with other artists and organisations. Currently she is establishing a network of Improv Choirs in England and Scotland, writing an online improvisation resource for teachers and devising gamelan, samba and jazz performances for the summer festivals.


BlueJam Arts award for services to jazz education

I am off to London next week to pick up an award for BlueJam from Will Michael Foundation – a chance to meet new people in the jazz world and also catch up with old friends. Thanks to all the team at BlueJam and Cumbria Music Hub who helped to make this happen.

Girls In Jazz Workshop

IMG_2362 Great to start off the new academic year with an inspiring collaboration with India Harding, a young vocalist from Lancaster – off next year to Birmingham Conservatoire. One of those rare musicians who combines the skills to perform opera with the inclination to improvise over everything in sight – and an encouraging facilitator who genuinely enjoys engaging with emerging musicians.

We had a really successful session with four newcomers to the group who found their feet quickly, and it was a delight to hear how the others had improved both in technique and confidence.

I got to play drums and trumpet and sing all at the same time so was happy!

Absent Friends Nov 2017

What a beautiful event at Eskdalemuir last Friday – part of a Scotland-wide series of events organised by Scotland Palliative Care.

I was commissioned by the Eskdalemuir Expressive Arts group to set a series of verses written by the Writing Group to music. We then performed the song together at the evening event.

It will be recorded before Christmas.

Big Sing at the Big Screen October 2016

A really interesting afternoon with seven primary schools taking part in a music and film event. Using the One Small Bird story and singing Meeting, Ballad and Vuela Libre from the cycle, schools created their own soundscapes, songs and animations describing the journey of the phalarope. Just what I hope will happen when a piece of work is created – that it gets embellished and re-imagined by the different groups of people performing it.

Rheged IMAX cinema in Penrith is a great venue

Cumbria Fireshow 2016!

Plans now finalised for the theme for this year’s show so can get going on writing the music – this year I will be recording a vocal and junk percussion soundtrack with Carlisle primary and secondary school students, with live singers, brass and drummers on the stage. Great to work again with storyteller Jeff Wallcook from Trellis Arts and firesculpture maker and director Gavin Lewery.

Brampton and Penrith Improv Choirs

brampton pic behind screen(Brampton is weekly on Wednesdays 7-9: Penrith weekly from April on Mondays 7.30 – 9.30 at Mostyn Hall.)
……last week of term so doing a bit of evaluation but in an improv way

asked: “if the group woke up on stage in front of an audience and were asked to demonstrate something of what we, what would happen?”

really different answers –

Penrith: definitely not when we turn the lights out
Brampton: definitely when we turn the lights out
Penrith: show how we take a song or riff and develop it – so I set it up and everyone waited for me to start something off (which was what I had expected)
Brampton: they just launched straight in! was great! foundered quite soon – when we got to a place where I started something off, everyone was raring to go

Quite exhiliarating the whole thingbrampton pic behind screen

songwriting skills for confidence at Central Academy

the last day of term so i decided to get all the singers in my lessons to sing phrases in response to a call – either as an echo or to start off a conversation.

this was something people hadn’t done individually and with the opportunity to explore their own phrasing and style, shape their own melodies and rhythms and create words – all on the hop.

it was great fun and showed how much everyone has improved over the last term.

what a great group of young musicians and supportive staff at Richard Rose, Central, Carlisle!

One Small Bird

The Ballad of the Red-Necked Phalarope
by Kate Stilitz and Jilly Jarman
Originally commissioned by Haringay Music Service for 2000 young singers and instrumentalists, for performance June 27th 2016 Royal Albert Hall.

Next performance with Cumbria Youth Orchestra, primary school choirs and BlueJam Youth Jazz Ensemble at The Sands, Carlisle, July 10th 2017


LAND OF SHADOWS at Rheged: a new song cycle written with 8 primary schools


CARLISLE FIRESHOW 2017 – a chance to write filmic music for an audience of more than 40,000 – and it didn’t rain!