Gabriel Swallow, Grade 8 Drums, Trinity College Rock & Pop

We catch up with Gabriel Swallow, who achieved a Grade 8 with Distinction in Trinity’s Rock & Pop Drums at MusicStation.

Gabriel Swallow, Grade 8 Drums, Trinity College Rock & Pop

Hi Gabriel! What was your experience of taking exams with Trinity College?

I was nervous going into them, of course. But the examiners were very relaxed and friendly, so I was calm by the time I started playing.

In what ways do you feel like your creative talent has progressed? 

As well as being able to play more challenging songs, I feel my improvisation skills have improved dramatically. I’ve found this really useful for learning songs quicker, recovering from mistakes, and varying a beat as I play to make it more interesting.

What did you find most valuable to you personally about taking your Trinity College qualification?

I felt the variety of songs streamlined my learning to key skills that I have used in all my performances since taking the exams. I also felt that, by learning songs I knew, I was much more driven to tackle the challenges each song provided. Knights of Cydonia was actually the song that originally inspired me to pick up drumming, so to be able to play it in my Grade 8 exam was such a privilege.

What did you find inspiring?

By learning a variety of songs, I was exposed to a lot of new music and new drummers. It was great to learn about the history of the genre and the drummer’s influence on it.

What did you find most challenging?

My “feel” has always been pretty solid, as I play other instruments too, but my speed has definitely been my Achilles’ heel. I really had to work hard to improve to the standard of each grade.

What are you going to do next, and has your qualification helped you?

In the next few years, I will be working towards my diploma and I hope drumming will make up a large part of my university life. More than anything, my qualifications have given me a lot of confidence in my performance and in my ambition. 

Header Image Credit: Gabriel Swallow, drum student with Music Station

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