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Meet The Final Ten - Young Drummer Of The Year 2017!

Alvin Muchina

My name is Alvin Muchina, and I live in Bristol, England.

My passion for music started off at the age of two, when I used to hit random objects around the house, and ever since then my parents knew I had an ear for music. I first played on a drum kit at the age of two, and since then, I’ve always had a passion for the instrument and overall had the enjoyment of playing it.

I started of playing the drums in my church and ever since then, I slowly worked my way up to eventually become one of the main drummers at my church. At the age of 13, I was privileged to meet my mentor Adebanjo Craig, who has helped me regarding the musicality aspect of things and has also helped me on my journey in life. I am heavily influenced by a lot of drummers but my main overall influences are, Dennis Chambers , Nate Wood and Ronald Bruner Jr. I am also heavily influenced by my friends Morgan Simpson, Jon Onabowu and Joseph Solomon, who are also drummers and are constantly motivating me and  pushing me to overall improve.

Since the age of two, I have been blessed to perform and play drums on many gospel platforms, Bristol Cathedral Gospel Choir, and various churches around the city. I recently just joined a gospel band and a hip hop band, and I am overall enjoying the two different genres as it is stretching my ability and enabling me to become a better drummer.

The news of hearing that I made the top ten young drummers humbled me alot, and I am really looking forward to showcasing my talent and also learning from one another and overall really just having fun and enjoying myself!

Anmol Mohara

I don’t know where to begin when explaining my love for drums. There has been no beginning or ending in the amount of passion that runs through me when I hear the sound of a beating drum, or the sound of a cymbal being struck. But I can talk about the day I held my first pair of drumsticks. I was eight years old and living in Nepal, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I am 16 year old Anmol Mohara from a small town in Hampshire. A place called Aldershot, where I go to school and practise daily and study privately with drum teacher Danny Mullowney. I have also started playing with the Royal Academy Junior Jazz programme, which inspires me and challenges me to make music with some of the best young musicians in the country. Dave Weckl has always been my inspiration, and I follow in his footsteps carefully, trying to play everything he has created. 

Nepal is my birthplace and the home of Nepal Music Centre, which has provided me with essential musical and life skills. I had already explored my passion of being a percussionist while playing a few other instruments, but it is at this school that I brushed up my drumming skills, and became a better musician, and a better person. Most of what I have learned in life, I learned while attending NMC, and I will always thank this institution for making me a great achiever. It is at this school that I prepared for my Rock School examinations, and achieved a 97% for my Grade 8 exam. 

Making it to the YDOY finals is a really big achievement. I feel overwhelmed with joy, because taking part in this competition and making it to the finals gives me an opportunity to show my talents to a larger number of people, and receive recognition for the many hours that I’ve spent practising my instrument. I’d like to thank Mike Dolbear and all the sponsors for providing young drummers a platform to be seen and heard. Good luck to everybody!

James Armfield

My name is James Armfield, I’m 15 years old and I’m from Easton, Suffolk. I first started playing drums at the age of 10, and took up lessons at Planet Music, Martlesham, with my teacher Phil Green. 

Many drummers have been an inspiration over my time playing, in particular Benny Greb for his feel and groove. I’m also massively inspired by Gavin Harrison, due to his control, technical abilities and originality, but perhaps my biggest inspiration was the film ‘Whiplash’.

For the first two years of my drumming, I lacked the motivation and effort that was required. This all changed when I saw that film. It showed me that if I wanted to progress as a musician, I needed to put in the work and show dedication. So I began to practice as much as I could, alongside partaking in a number of the school ensembles to further myself as not just a drummer but a musician as well. I also recently started playing in a band, The Getaway, on a weekly basis, helping me to gain more experience through playing live music with other musicians.

To be in the final of Young Drummer is incredible and I’m really looking forward to the 5th of February!

Jeremiah Joshua Wallace

I''m Jeremiah Joshua Wallace, 14 years old from Saint Albans, Hertfordshire.  I’ve been playing 12 Years and my favourite drummers are Calvin Rodgers, Dave Weckl, and Dennis Chambers

I started playing in my church which was my first introduction to playing with other musicians.  I grew up listening to a lot of gospel and jazz music which has allowed me to be able to play in all different contexts. I originally learnt the drums by playing by ear but as I started to take my music more seriously, I got myself doing grades as well and at the age of 13 I gained my Grade 8 certificate. 

I have been involved in various musical events and bands which has allowed me to enhance my ability to play alongside other musicians. I am in my school Jazz band which is not only fun but a good learning experience. I have also recently been involved in the Hertfordshire Youth Gospel Choir which has been an excellent experience and a great opportunity to showcase the music I enjoy. At the age of 11 I was given the chance to play with the London Community Gospel Choir and have played with them again more recently.

For me, reaching the final really means a lot. I entered last year and didn’t get into the top 40. Since then I have really worked hard on my weaknesses with my drum teacher Phil Craig to bring myself to the standard of playing I want to be at. I feel that it is an excellent platform for me to show myself and others how far I have come.

Kai Craig

I am 16 and live in Exeter, Devon. I first played drums aged two but starting learning to read music from the age of six. I achieved distinction in my Trinity College Grade 8 exam aged 13. My favourite drummers are Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Tony Williams, Steve Gadd and Benny Greb. My favourite music is jazz but I play along to anything I can as I always find myself learning something new from each genre.

It means a massive amount to me to make it to the final of Young Drummer of The Year. I’m so excited to be part of such a great competition. I practice for hours every day so it’s an incredible feeling to know all my hard work is paying off.

My father, a jazz graduate, took me through grades and has been the best teacher I could ever hope for. Over recent years I have also learned a lot from drum books and DVDs. I have attended the National Youth Jazz Collective Summer School twice and last year I was mentored throughout the week by Mark Mondesir, which was amazing.

I played with Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra from the age of 13 and the Locked Horns Jazz Orchestra (all adult big band) from the age of 15. I played with my dad’s junior samba band, Samba Marcianas, from age 8-15 which gave me lots of ensemble and performance experience. I am currently working with a drum’n’bass fusion duo, a jazz quintet and a funk covers band. I play as many jazz, funk and pop gigs as I can to gain as much experience as I can. This year I have started teaching and am hoping to branch out to teach a lot more next year.

Lyle Burton

I am 15 and am from Market Harborough in Leicestershire. I have been playing drums for roughly 4 years.

I was born into a very musical family, and have very vivid memories of playing on a toy drum kit I got as a Christmas present when I was 3. I then started playing the piano at the age of 5, after watching my brother have lessons. After reaching grade 5 on piano, at the age of 12, I realised how percussively I was playing it, so I begged my parents to let me get a drum kit of my own, which they eventually gave into. I have been playing non-stop ever since.

I currently play with my schools jazz and soul bands which opens me up to multiple genres of music. We have performed in concerts across Europe and also several private functions, giving me lots of performing experience. 

I have been having private lessons, with Darron Cleary-McHarg, for the the past year as I wanted to improve my reading skills, and make my way through the grades. This has enabled me to structure my learning, and develop a musical approach to playing with other musicians.

I take inspiration from many different drummers nowadays such as JP Bouvet, Carter McLean, Bernard Purdie and Benny Greb who I was lucky enough to meet earlier this year.

Reaching the final really means a lot to me, as it shows that all the countless hours of practise and research that have gone into this instrument have been worth it.

Michael Obrike

Michael is a naturally talented drummer with immense drumming skills and ability to accompany most genre of music. Born and brought up in Reading, Berkshire, Michael started drumming when he was only a year old and 10 years on, he is still very excited about drums. Michael is a self-taught drummer and has the ear for music and a passion for drumming. Michael has featured in charity events organized by Macmillan Cancer Research. He appeared in the local papers (Get Reading) when he drummed at a concert to raise funds for a boy that suffered from Cerebral Palsy.  

In 2014 when we moved to Swindon, Michael met his current drum tutor Douglas Mussard who suggested that he should enter The Young Drummer of the Year as a short term goal and since then Michael has been exposed to various gigs and events. Three years ago he auditioned for a gospel band in Swindon and remains the youngest member of the band. His main inspirations are Tony Royster and Eric Moore.  Recently, he was very excited to meet Eric Moore at the 2016 London Drum Show.  

Being a finalist is a dream come true as Michael is very passionate about drumming. When Michael is not drumming in a band, he is busy playing for the junior Swindon Town Football Club, Robins.

Ollie Woods

My name is Ollie Woods, I am 16 years old and I live in Farnham, Surrey.

My introduction to drumming was through my older sister Charlotte who was having drum lessons at school.  I then started taking lessons when I was seven years old with my drum teacher Omar Hayes.

I have constantly worked towards building my drumming skills over the years, and have regularly been entered for the Trinity College drum kit exams.  When I was 13 I achieved my grade 8 with distinction, going on to take my ATCL (Associate Trinity College London) recital diploma at the age of 15 which I completed with distinction in July 2015.

On 18th December 2016 I took my LTCL (Licentiate) recital diploma which I am awaiting the result for – as part of the diploma I wrote the drum kit part for one of the pieces.  I am now intending to work towards the FTCL (Fellowship) qualification.

When I am not drumming at home, I drum for a local jazz ensemble playing a variety of songs and performing concerts on a regular basis, as well as playing with friends or at school when they have productions.

I enjoy watching and listening to the world’s most established drummers and studying all aspects of their playing.  Here are just a few of my favourite drummers:- Buddy Rich, Benny Greb, Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers, Peter Erskine, Ash Soan, The Rev, Pete Ray Biggin.

In 2015 I was awarded the Pete Handley Percussion Award and in December 2016 I was a finalist in the Yamaha #Futurebeat 2016 competition.

My aim is to become a professional drummer touring with bands as well as doing recording studio sessions.

I was really pleased to have been selected for the final 10 of the Young Drummer of the Year 2017 as it is will be such an amazing experience.

Sam Heeley

Sam Heeley is 16 from Sheffield and has been playing the drums for eight years. When he was nine he started having lessons with local drum teacher Toni Cannelli, Toni not only developed Sam’s technique but also ensured he was introduced to the work of many drumming greats. Aged 10 Sam joined Concord Youth Music’s junior marching band, the Concord AllStars. For three years Sam competed with the AllStars in the Drum Corp UK championships, this was probably his first experience of playing to large audiences. After a year with the AllStars Sam was asked to play for Concord’s senior ensemble which he still plays for today. With Concord Sam has played in five major theatre shows and won the British Youth Bands Association Young Musician of the Year (open to under 21s) in 2012, 2013 and 2015. 

In 2011 Sam started at Bradfield Secondary School and has enjoyed the wide variety of musical groups provided by Head of Music Rob Whale. He currently plays drum kit in Bradfield’s Jazz Bands and Orchestra which has given him many public-performing opportunities and helped him gain confidence playing many different styles.

In his first year at Bradfield Sam formed the band Bailey Street with three of his close friends. They played their first gig in July 2012 and have since gone on to play a variety of venues including the O2 Academies in Sheffield and Leeds and have been part of  Sheffield’s Tramlines music festival for the last two years. 

When he was 15, Sam put himself through his first Graded drumming exam, without any instructional support he took the Trinity College Grade 8 Drum Kit exam and passed with Distinction. He also plays piano and marimba.

Sam’s drumming influences include: Ash Soan, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckle and Sheffield’s Pete Ray Biggin.

Zoe Pascal

Zoe Pascal, who is 15 years old, was born in Lisbon into a family of professional musicians.

His father, Theo Pascal (a professional bass player) taught him the foundations of being a musician and Zoe started playing, in a relaxed family environment, at 3 - 4 years old.

His family move to London, in 2008, was crucial to his more serious evolution on the drums and his local teacher, John Munro was the first, outside his family, to support his talent and push him forward. Other teachers - Rod Youngs and Shane Forbes - were also important to his development as a musician and drummer.

Zoe was Soultone's youngest UK endorsee at 11 years old, a Vater artist at 13 and Cympad Class of 2016 at 14.   He is also a previous finalist of the Young Drummer of the year competition in 2015 and 2016. 

Presently, he is a scholar at prestigious Jazz academy at the Royal Academy of music and drummer of the Tomorrow´s Warriors Youth Orchestra.

In 2016 he formed a band called Zeñel Trio featured at this years’s London Jazz Festival and Cambridge Jazz Festival. 

At 15 his record of concerts is impressive having played in UK´s major venues like Ronnie´s Scott, Southbank, LSO St Lukes, Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer, Royal Academy of Music, London Jazz Festival, Pizza Express Jazz Club, Cambridge Jazz festival and also important International Festivals: Au Fil des Voix Festival in Vaison-la-Romain in FR, Bardentreffen in Nuremberg in Germany, Xabia Jazz Festival in Spain.

Zoe also has recording credits at several award-wining albums, released worldwide, by his father Theo Pascal & Carmen Souza. 

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