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ABRSM scholar profile: Jess Gillam

3 years ago


Every year we provide more than 70 scholarships for talented British and international musicians to study at the four Royal Schools of Music in the UK, in addition to our core donation to each of the Schools.

Award-winning saxophonist

Jess Gillam with her BBC Young Musician of the Year awardOur latest article in a series of features about our scholars focuses on 18-year-old saxophonist Jess Gillam from Cumbria, who has already been awarded several prestigious accolades in her short career.

She was the first ever saxophonist to win the Woodwind final of the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year 2016 and was awarded the Musician of the Year at the Cumbria Culture Awards presented by Melvyn Bragg. He described her as “the sound of the future”.

The early years

Jess first picked up a saxophone at the Barracudas Carnival Arts Centre in Barrow-in-Furness, aged 7, and has loved playing ever since. She initially found it challenging to meet like-minded young people who were equally passionate about music, but this was remedied when she started at Junior Royal Northern College of Music as a teenager. She’s now a first year undergraduate ABRSM Scholar at the college.

Giving back

Jess is passionate about helping encourage more young people to realise the benefits of playing music, as she explains:

“I think it is absolutely essential that every child, regardless of their background, has access to some form of education in music or the opportunity to learn an instrument.

“Inspiring the next generation of musicians is really important to me. I volunteer at various schools around the country to try to help young musicians, and give presentations on music and offer young children the chance to try playing the saxophone.”

Jess Gillam

Looking ahead

Turning to the future, Jess is hoping to become a professional soloist performing regularly across the world and collaborating with musicians from different musical genres.

Find out more

  • Find out more about ABRSM's scholarships
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