Drummer Abby Constable (pictured below) from Killara High School, a student taking regular private drum lessons with me for the past two years, has been awarded a scholarship to return to the Jazz Workshop Australia 2016 Jazz Camp. Abby was selected from amongst a cohort of around 80 enthusiastic learners on a wide variety of jazz instruments at this year's camp.
Jazz Camp drum teacher and musical director John Morrison had this to say:
"For over 30 years the Sydney Jazz Camps have been a mecca for aspiring young Jazz musicians from all over Australia. Many go on to find professional careers in the music industry and cite jazz camp as being the inspiration behind their dreams. Of the many who have hailed from Killara High School, Abby is the latest to win our 'return to camp' scholarship for 2016. She joins a distinguished list of students who have demonstrated real commitment to their music studies with the promise of great things to come. Indeed Abby is already showing real skill on her instrument and I'm looking forward to seeing her grow alongside the many other talented youngsters from Barker."
Oli Nelson - one of Abby's earlier teachers and recipient of the scholarship at the 2009 Jazz Camp - says he has "always been impressed with Abby's serious attitude towards the drums. She was always a pleasure to teach and would regularly inspire me with her progress. I think it's fantastic that she's the recipient of this year's Return Scholarship and I can't think of anyone more deserving."
Having received the same award after attending Jazz Camp in 1994, I remember the thrill of being such a recipient, and so I asked Abby if she wouldn't mind taking the time to answer a few questions about her experience. Here's what she had to say.
DG: Congratulations on your scholarship, Abby! How long have you been drumming and what inspires you in your drumming?
AC: I started drumming in the school concert band almost eight years ago, when I was nine years old. The thing that has always inspired me to drum is listening to great music, and wishing I could create music of that caliber, for others to enjoy as much as I do. I’ve had three drum teachers, Derek Barg, Oli Nelson and Dave Goodman. Their endless help, encouragement and belief in my musical potential has undoubtedly played a large role in my inspiration to play music, and I cannot thank them enough for that.
As well as the professionals, I’ve always been inspired by other drummers at school, in particular those more experienced than me. The more you hear drummers that are better than you, the more you want to practice to match their expertise!
DG: How do you feel about Jazz Camp?
AC: There are no words to describe how incredible my experiences of Jazz Camp have been, both in 2013 and 2015. Constantly being surrounded by musicians for a five whole days who share the same desire to improve their musicianship is the most inspiring, positive environment to learn in. Not to mention being mentored by some of the greatest jazz musicians in the country such as John Morrison and Graeme Lyall. Leaving camp on the last day was very hard, as you become immersed in the musical environment and don’t want to leave! I feel extremely privileged to have attended this camp and would highly recommend it to any young musicians who are interested in playing jazz.
DG: How do you feel about winning the scholarship?
AC: Receiving the scholarship on the last day of camp was simply amazing and one of the proudest moments in my life. The scholarship has also served as added motivation to improve as much as I can before next year's Jazz Camp!
DG: What do you plan to do with your drumming?
AC: I am very interested in pursuing a career in music, as it is extremely fulfilling and enjoyable. Growing up in such a privileged situation and having such supportive parents has definitely helped me be able to have such great musical opportunities, and this makes me feel obliged to help those who don’t have those same advantages. So teaching/playing music in disadvantaged areas in Australia is a path that I’d be very interested to follow. Auditioning for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is a likely option for a university course. Although I’m not certain what exactly I’ll use my drumming for career-wise, I know that it will always be an important part of my life.
You can check out Abby's drumming by visiting her YouTube channel here.