and musician Andrew Peggie continues his series of case
studies, meeting young people across the UK and finding
out what making music means to them.
Meet 16-year-old Andrew, a prodigious
percussionist from Birmingham for whom the music never
* Liam plays piano and drums - a lot
* His current timetable lists six different
band/ensemble rehearsals a week, plus lessons,
* He comes from a musical family - mum a professional
musician, and brother/sisters all play instruments
* "If my hands got chopped off I could always learn to
play with my feet"
Sixteen-year-old Liam sees nothing unusual about the
fact that on six out of seven days in any one week he
has music commitments - rehearsals, lessons, gigs. In
fact, he provides a daily timetable that appears
to substitute practising for eating and then continues
after rehearsals, long into the night: "Nobody really
sleeps in my house," he says. Liam is a
To him it's just normal. Liam's mum is a musician
and his brother and two sisters also play various
combinations of piano, drums and oboe. So music's no
big deal in a way, you just get on with it. There's a
down-to earth approach to Liam's music making and
no time for any high-flown pretentiousness about
music's deep spiritual qualities. "After music college,
I want to be a session musician. Music's for people to
take part in. What keeps me going? Just the fun of it.
If my hands got chopped off I could always learn to
play with my feet - and you can get one-handed
drummers," he adds.
This sense of pragmatism pervades Liam's comments.
How would he describe the music he plays? "I do so many
different styles you're bound to like one of them," he
offers, "but some of the contemporary stuff verges on
the ridiculous. The silent Cage piece - I'd say that
sort of stuff is art rather than music."
What makes him frustrated about music? "When gigs
clash," he says. Liam is clearly not the angst-ridden
creative sort though he does admit, in a rare
exploration of music's benefits, that "playing drums
The hardest thing he's had to do is composition. "It
takes a lot of time. Sometimes they're hard to get
started on," he says. Perhaps this is also why he
reckons GCSE music is getting in the way of his musical
enjoyment - though to be fair, he lists all his other
school subjects as having the same effect.
Delve beneath the matter-of-fact exterior and you
find an extraordinary breadth of activity and
experience: a samba band (which Liam leads),
experimental jazz, Birmingham Schools' Percussion
Ensemble, City of Birmingham Brass Band, rock band, ska
band. Then forays into djembe playing, minimalist
mallet music, bhangra with Fame Academy Bollywood, plus
all the usual visiting projects available in the
Birmingham area - CBSO, Birmingham Royal Ballet,
conservatoire. "I got a BBC scholarship thing for being
the best drummer in the Midlands and I bought a load of
cymbals which distract me."
And then, just as it seemed here was a pretty
straightforward young musician to categorise, Liam
announces his five greatest musicians/pieces of all
time: "Anything by Debussy, David Bowie stuff, Golden
Brown by the Stranglers, Mozart's Requiem and Herbie
Hancock." Surely anyone who's capable of being inspired
or moved by this range of music is going to be a lot
more than just a musical functionary.