Make It/Break It is our new mass participation commission created by Chris Sharkey (guitarist with trioVD, Acoustic Ladyland, Shiver) for an ensemble of amateur musicians and vocalists. Over 100 participants have taken part in the project so far, in which participants rehearse together over a day-long workshop, then perform what is created to an audience that same day. Make it/Break it encourages participants to play around with improvisation and provides the opportunity for them to experiment with a variety of methods of music making alongside the experience of playing within a large ensemble of diverse musicians and instruments.

This project has been in development since 2015 and a pilot version was presented as part of Gateshead International Jazz Festival in April 2016. The full piece premiered as part of EFG London Jazz Festival on Saturday 19th November 2016 at Southbank Centre. To find out more, email learning@serious.org.uk.


  • ‘ It was a timely reminder of the underlying grassroots agenda of one of the world’s classiest jazz celebrations, and of where the love of music-making often begins – through chance meetings, faltering beginnings, and inspiring guides. ’
    (★★★★ The Guardian)
  • ‘ I am from a brass band background, and I play folk. I stood up in front of several hundred people and did a jazz solo – that was quite unusual – great fun, I loved it. ’
    (Participant, Sage Gateshead)
  • ‘ It was an amazing experience in every way. Musically, socially, in terms of the balance of performance, listening, workshopping specific skills… I really felt a perfect balance of being stretched musically and just enjoying the experience. ’
    (Participant, Southbank Centre)