Continuing the series profiling some of this year’s Music Scholars. This week, percussionist Cory Adams.
I was 3 when I got my first drum kit. It was a toy of course, yet I think it did spark my passion for percussion and music. I started taking snare drum lessons when I was 8 years old at primary school; we weren’t fortunate enough to have a drum kit, so kit lessons would have to wait until I started high school.
Kit playing seemed to come naturally to me, and as my teacher saw potential in me, he asked me (when I was 12) to start playing with ‘Saxation’. This was a saxophone ensemble (with rhythm section of course) that was run by members of staff from the Wakefield Music Services. This environment enhanced my playing dramatically, so I immediately started playing with the music department at school. I joined the swing band, concert band, orchestra, guitar group and choir- to drum of course! I even joined the folk group to play djembe.
Progressing through the drum kit grades quickly, in year 10 I decided I wanted to become an all round percussionist. Therefore my teacher introduced me to the glorious instruments that are the timpani drums, xylophone, glockenspiel and vibraphone. This did however mean I now had to learn how to read treble and bass clef- it’s so much harder than drum kit music!
At this age (15), when I was preparing for my grade 7 and being the principal percussionist at school and at music centre, I was asked to be the principal percussionist for the Wakefield Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Wakefield Youth Jazz Orchestra. This was a real eye opener. The standard of playing in these ensembles was incredible, and being a ‘newbie’ I was petrified. It didn’t help either when I had to play Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and the intro to Also Sprach Zarathustra on timpani in my first concert.
It was also at this age when my theatre/show playing was tested. I was asked to play for an amateur dramatics group’s performance of Annie. I had such a great time, however it was disappointing that I couldn’t actually see the performance as I was stuck in the orchestra pit. I must have done a good job, because a year later I was asked to play again, this time for their medley/compilation of various musicals.
I was 16 when my teacher asked me to play with him for the Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band. My initial reaction was, “you mean the youth band?” His response was, “No, I mean the proper one”. I could not have been more ecstatic- the band are a Championship Section band, which play against the likes of Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick and Grimethorpe- the band that play in the film ‘Brassed Off’. This was the start of my dramatic improvement in all forms of percussion. I soon later (in 2011) completed my grade 8 with distinction.
From loud and raucous music to the soft tranquil haven that is Jazz. I have been playing jazz for 3 years now in a trio back home, and I have to tell you- it is a real money earner! And everyone knows we all need a bit of money now and then. I was quite sad to be leaving my trio when I came to university; however I didn’t know I’d be meeting three awesome jazz musicians. I now play with these guys and we are The Colossus Quartet- we are taking bookings so please get in touch!
I should now probably talk about what I actually do at University. Aside from the jazz quartet I play with the University Concert Band, Big Band and Orchestra. I love playing with these bands as I get to play so much tuned percussion; my tuned ability really has improved because of this. I look forward to my years at Kent being involved with the music department, I’ve already made many great friends and I’m sure I will make many more.
Read the other profiles in the series here.