Continuing the series profiling some of our University Music Performance Scholarship students here at Kent. This week, reeds specialist studying Business and Management, Tom Wust.
As a kid growing up in a family of musicians and wannabe footballers, my ambitions in life were simple: become Manchester United’s record goal scorer (cue the booing from Manchester City fans!) and to play the piano as well my Dad. And in the present day, I still can’t play the piano as well as my dad, and the whole Manchester United thing is looking unlikely as I’m at university down here at Kent; but heigh-ho, life goes on!
The biggest inspiration for me to become a musician was my Dad. He used to give me piano lessons and try and get me started early, but I just couldn’t hack it. This didn’t stop me learning what all the white and black keys meant, which meant whenever we did music lessons in primary school, I was the expert as I could play an F on a keyboard without having the note names written on in whiteboard marker pen. I may have come across to my peers as a piano playing virtuoso, but I knew I was a million light-years away from being the next Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At this stage in my life I was still very keen on football, and played for my primary school and a local club.
Choosing a secondary school presented some opportunities to fulfil one of my two ambitions. One of my options was Abraham Darby Academy, a performing arts and business enterprise specialist academy. Their flagship concert band, called the ‘Showband’ had recently returned from Carnegie Hall, New York, and an opportunity like that would have been too good to turn down. I started year 7 at Abraham Darby Academy and was inspired to reach the standard needed for the Showband. I began my first clarinet lessons with the head of music, Rachel Morton, and quickly progressed up through the various ensembles the academy had to offer. The Megaband was the first ensemble I was a part of, where you needed to pass your grade one to enter. Next was the Friday Band, which – you guessed it – rehearsed on a Friday after school. This was an intermediate band with students of around grade 2/3 to grade 7 standards playing. In addition to the concert bands, I was invited to pick up a tenor saxophone and play with the Junior Jazz Band. It was from there where I progressed even further, passing an audition for the Showband and the Senior Jazz Band on 3rd clarinet and baritone saxophone respectively.
As clarinet was my principle instrument, I was trained to play classically. The moment I picked up a saxophone, all of that changed. I was told to forget nearly everything I had learned on the clarinet and soon enough I rebelled against my initial training and became totally engrossed with playing jazz. I would always be willing to improvise in the Jazz Bands, and in year 12 would be invited to be the musical director of the Junior Jazz Band, helping classically trained saxophonists and brass players to find their way in the world of jazz and all it had to offer. I achieved grade 8 saxophone with distinction in year 10 after just 3 years of playing, grade 8 clarinet with distinction in year 11 and grade 8 jazz saxophone with distinction in year 13 to round off my time at the Academy.
Music at Abraham Darby has given me many moments I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Playing for the Queen at RAF Cosford for her Diamond Jubilee, representing England in the Palaces of Westminster for the Commonwealth Carnival of Music, playing in Symphony Hall five times, winning Gold at the World Music Contest in the Netherlands, playing as a soloist for Prince Edward, and performing in the Royal Albert Hall just to name some.
I was very happy to learn of the exciting opportunities that music at the University of Kent presents. Playing in an orchestra was something on my musical bucket list that I hadn’t achieved thus far, and at the end of my first term I was part of the ‘Sounding Shakespeare’ concert with the University Symphony Orchestra, which was a very enjoyable experience. And with Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony to be performed in Canterbury Cathedral in term 2, I have plenty more to get my teeth in to and enjoy! I study Business and Management at Medway, but making the trip over to Canterbury to perform with the Concert Band, Big Band, Symphony Orchestra and of course the wonderful General Harding’s Tomfoolery is always the highlight of my week – I’m looking forward to times ahead with the Music Department at Kent.
Read profiles of other Scholars here.