14-year-old Stuart was nominated for achievement in drums, achieving his Grade 5 with Basildon Studios and Eastwood Academy.
Stuart was nominated Glenn Burton, his percussion teacher, and his parents who said: "Stuart is a gifted drummer, determined to deliver great performances when he plays. He performed as a guest kit player for the Essex Marching Corps at the Palace Theatre, Southend, in March and his performance was given a special mention as he performed with just two rehearsals prior to the show. Stuart's energy and enthusiasm for his music is a joy to see developing. He looks for the next challenge and his transition from playing for pleasure to taking exams began with a challenge from his Grandpa a few years ago, and he is loving the experience and skills he is being exposed to through it. What a privilege to be a part of his story."
The Trinity judges said: "It's fantastic that Stuart has increased his self-confidence through his music, seeking out the opportunities to perform and improve, which is clearly reflected in his 100% mark at Grade 5."
How has your Trinity College London qualification has influenced your artistic achievement?
The choice of music in Trinity Rock & Pop Grades has introduced me to various styles of music, artists and new songs. I had never heard of Sir Duke, and with encouragement from my tutor, listened, gave it a try and really enjoyed the rhythm and style. I would not have been confident performing No-one Knows by the Queens of the Stone Age without the exam. I loved the challenge of learning it and trying out lots of fills until I found one that fitted. The exams have also developed and improved my reading of the music, combined with expanding my improvisation skills.
How has your qualification helped you develop your artistic skills?
Before taking Trinity grades, I enjoyed playing but didn’t know if I was good at it. Participation has improved my self-confidence in exams, playing in the church worship group and in other public performances. I have played in school concerts as a soloist and part of a band. In March last year, I was asked to drum as a guest kit player for the Essex Marching Corps in a performance at the Palace Theatre and felt comfortable accepting their invitation. It was a brilliant experience.
Tell us a bit about how you found the experience of recording a digital submission for music
I enjoyed the experience as I was able to record in a familiar setting. I was so pleased to record it at school where I had more space in the music room than at home, with a small audience of my music teachers and friends. That helped me relax, be confident and enjoy performing. It took a few attempts to get the camera angles, sound quality and lighting right, but the result was definitely worth it. I was confident the whole way through and felt more relaxed than in a strange venue. It felt odd only performing the set pieces and not having the improvisation.
Would you like to tell us anything about any challenges this year, and how you’ve overcome them to achieve your Trinity qualification?
Like many students, I found it hard being in lockdown. My Grade 4 was cancelled and all the music groups I am part of stopped. With my parents working from home, time to practise at home was limited during the week, so I did more at the weekend. I made the most of access to the music department at school when I could too. Only having a few lessons face to face with my drum tutor, with the rest online was difficult. My tutor Glenn Burton was really supportive. His online lessons, positive feedback and encouragement every week helped me stay motivated. I was determined to start my GCSE music in September showing progress towards my Grade 5 and was keen to give the best performance of my song choices in the exam.
What are the next steps for you following your qualification?
I am learning the songs for Trinity Rock & Pop Grade 6 with remote learning. I am continuing to aim high, hoping for a distinction again. I am in my first year of GCSE Music and Arts Award and am eagerly waiting for opportunities to perform again.
What are your career aims?
I would love to drum as a musician in theatres when I am old enough. I was inspired when I went to see the Lion King in London when I was in primary school and really wanted to play the drums with the orchestra.
Have you got any advice for other young people working towards a Trinity qualification or Arts Award?
Take the time you need to be really confident with each grade. Some pieces will feel easier than others. Practise a lot, stay positive and keep going. There is no bad practice except no practice.
Read more about the talented young people selected to be featured in the TrinityTalent Class of 2020.