They say if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. And I couldn’t help but be reminded of that expression as I spoke with Foresters Competitive Scholarship winner, Oliver Butterworth.
Oliver was just offered a prestigious position as a percussionist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a truly remarkable achievement. He admits he didn’t even think his audition was his best but his talent shone through and now he’s packing his bags for Romania, the first stop of the tour.
When Oliver was just eight years old he was introduced to the world of percussion music when a parent from school performed at an assembly. With his curiosity piqued, Oliver’s very brave parents opted to get him his first drum kit.
“Luckily we lived in the country so no one could hear,” Oliver jokes. “My sister played the violin, which is even worse”.
A few years later, he began taking lessons and decided to expand his musical horizons beyond the traditional drum kit to include the timpani (also known as the kettledrums or “timps” to those who know more about music than I do).
The timpani became just one of many percussion instruments Oliver studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Others included the xylophone, tambourine and snare drum.
Just as he was first introduced to percussion music as a child, Oliver now pays it forward by going into primary schools with instruments like triangles and shakers to teach kids about percussion music.
“It exposes them to something different and maybe it will inspire them to follow the same path I did,” he says. “It’s rewarding to see the children playing with the instruments and responding to something new – you get to spread the joy and get more people playing.”
Oliver has also used music to help kids going through tough times. “I used to teach drum kit to kids at specialist schools who were expelled or had behavioral issues,” he explains. “Drum kit would help them get out their anger. Once you work with them one-on-one, you find that they’re great kids that respond well to the music.”
Today Oliver is tackling the tough challenge of teaching music to kids. “It takes lots of experience,” he says. “Keeping the small kids amused and engaged is difficult, so I try to think of games to make it fun.”
His tactics must be working because there are already several success stories coming out of the ‘Oliver Butterworth School of Music’. One of his pupils even went on to pursue percussion studies at University, just like Oliver.
“I couldn’t think of doing anything else so I turned my passion into a job,” he tells me. And this seems to be paying off for everyone his music touches.
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