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The Snare Drum Challenge 2017 - Challenge Complete!

posted 26 Mar 2017, 14:40 by Chris Morris

I'm fortunate enough to do a job where I quite often witness things accomplished by young people that just blow me away. At each Dundee Drum Academy Christmas and Summer Concert there are always one or two people who perform to such a high standard that I wonder if they've maybe been taking master classes with Tommy Igoe and not telling me. And then, there was The Snare Drum Challenge.

The name The Snare Drum Challenge says it all really; it's a challenge. Across all three levels, this event was a very difficult one. When the pieces were released in January, I was very blunt with my pupils, telling them that I didn't think that anyone would achieve a Gold certificate, because it would just be too difficult. The pieces themselves are very difficult, the marking scheme is quite harsh, there's an unknown element with the sight reading part, and the judge (me) is known to be quite an unforgivingly harsh one. You'd have done extremely well to get a Bronze, never mind Gold.

Well, four participants proved me wrong. And the rest impressed me beyond anything I'd expected.

The Snare Drum Challenge is based on an event in my life that inspired me, and helped me be who I am today. In 2002, I competed in the Dundee Schools' Music Festival in a snare drum contest. I practised the piece so much that I can still play it from memory today. And when I stood in front of the quiet audience with nothing in front of me but a snare drum and a pair of sticks, I was sure that the people in front could hear my heart because it was beating so hard against my chest. I've never been more nervous in my life.

That was on the 25th March 2002, and on that date in every year since I've always remembered how I felt that day, and how overjoyed I was when I'd finished it. I'd taken on the challenge and succeeded. I believe up until then that it was the very best day of my life, and set me on course to be a drum/percussion teacher. And it still remains one of the best days of my life.

So you can imagine how I felt when I was thinking about running this event back in the summer of 2016, and I found that the Saturday the week before the schools came off for Easter was the 25th of March. I'm not a very superstitious person, but that date just seemed too perfect, and so The Snare Drum Challenge was born.

The Snare Drum Challenge was open to any young drummer in the Dundee area who wanted to participate. Unfortunately no external (ie, non-Dundee Drum Academy students) entered. Perhaps that's just because the best ones already come here for lessons? Because of that, and just in case anyone thought I was favouring any one person because I liked them better, I marked the participants "blindly", having my back turned against them. I'd thought I would probably have a feeling about who was who, but was pleasantly surprised that in the vast majority of cases I had no idea who was playing. 

From the very first participant (who I now know was Vincent), I had to remind myself to actually mark the pieces instead of just enjoying them. Every performer from all three levels played their pieces so impressively I almost wondered whether it was all really happening. It's a testament to the participants' talents that nobody achieved below a Bronze (And I'd like to make it clear that Bronze is not the lowest award, you have to achieve at least 60% of the marks to earn this). 

I really think this event brought out the best in the participants, and I hope that no matter what the result they are all pleased. Each participant had their own story to tell, and I know most of those stories well - some of them are personal, some are passionate, but all of them are unique, and they brought that into their performances. I want to make clear in this blog that I am so proud of each and every one of them. I wish I could take all the credit for their success but it's really down to them. They are all amazing.

And by the way, those fifteen participants are only a third of the pupils I currently teach. The Snare Drum Challenge will likely be back in 2018, and there will be new participants who I know will bring that same passion and commitment, and I already can't wait. I think I may have been driving my wife a little crazy in the last 24 hours because all I've been talking about is how well my pupils did and how I can't wait to do it all again.

The results for The Snare Drum Challenge 2017 can be found below and have now been verified and processed. All participants will receive their certificates in the coming week. A huge congratulations to all who took part, brilliant results all round!

The Snare Drum Challenge 2017 Results


Congratulations to the highest scorer (and trophy winner) Josh, who also won a Gold award. 

Full results
Congratulations to:
BRONZE award winner Adeolu. 

SILVER award winners Brian & Evie.

GOLD award winners Ansh & Josh.


Congratulations to the highest scorer (and trophy winner) Vincent, who also won a Gold award.

Full results
Congratulations to:
BRONZE award winner Alexis.

SILVER award winners Ben, Jay, Lucas, Nikhil, and Vitoria.

GOLD award winner Vincent.


Congratulations to the highest scorer (and trophy winner) Drake, who also won a Gold award.

Full results
Congratulations to:
BRONZE award winner Marco.

SILVER award winner Oliver.

GOLD award winner Drake.