Rendys from Lewisham is our September Scholar of the Month

11-year-old Rendys started his Scholarship in 2019, and has had a brilliant first year. He is a hardworking, enthusiastic and talented guitarist. In his mid-year report, his guitar teacher said he was an outstanding pupil, and told us he was enjoying playing in the Intermediate Guitar Ensemble and preparing to take his Grade 2 exam.

“Rendys is a very hardworking musician. His commitment to his guitar lessons is excellent. He always arrives on time and comes fully prepared for the lesson. He always does the necessary practice which makes each lesson worthwhile as he is constantly improving. I expect to see him go on to be a fantastic guitarist in the future.” – Rendys’ guitar teacher

Before the pandemic, Rendys took advantage of the free tickets offered to Scholars for some amazing concerts, thanks to our generous partners. In February he and his mum went to the Drake YolanDa Awards Winter Concert at Cadogan Hall, hosted by LMF Ambassador YolanDa Brown, where Rendys was excited to hear a gospel choir perform for the first time. Then in March, he was inspired by going to a Beethoven Piano Extravaganza performance at the Southbank, by students from the Purcell School.

Rendys at the Drake YolanDa Award and Purcell School concerts, thanks to complimentary tickets from our partners

Rendys didn’t let the pandemic put a stop to his music-making! He sent us a wonderful video for our #ScholarsMakjngMusic competition, and also took part in an online composition workshop with Animate and Trinity Laban.

Rendys will be starting at his new secondary school this month, and we wish him the best of luck. He is sure to have exciting new musical opportunities in Year 7, and we know he will make the most of them!

We asked Rendys a few questions about his Scholarship:

Why did you decide to play the guitar?

When I was 6, I attended the Blackheath Conservatoire Roundabout Course where I was able to try out 6 instruments: piano, flute, cello, violin, percussion and guitar. After I had completed the course, my mum asked me, "Would you like to continue learning any of these instruments?" and I answered, "Yes. I'd like to continue piano and guitar." So, my mum researched where I could take lessons for guitar and piano and she found out about Lewisham Music. I joined to have guitar lessons, however, there was a long queue for piano lessons.  Luckily, I was able to have piano lessons at my primary school. I also joined the Rock Band at Lewisham Music where I could play the keyboard and learn about rock music. Once I was confident on the guitar and knew all the basics, I decided to join the Guitar Ensemble at the Lewisham Music, which I love being part of.

What has been your coolest musical experience so far?

My coolest musical experience so far has been when I was able to take part in the Lewisham Music Summer Gala where over 1000 young singers performed Endurance - a performance based on Ernest Shackelton's extraordinary expedition to the Antarctic in 1914. The performance took place in the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall on 27 June 2019. It was an amazing feeling to stand on the stage and sing to a hall full of audience. I was extremely honoured to be able to take part in this premiere.

Do you have a musical role model or someone who inspires you?

My inspiration is Hugh Jackman because he plays 3 instruments: violin, guitar and piano and he is an amazing singer. He also is an amazing entertainer and actor and has been in many films: X-men, The Wolverine, The Greatest Showman, Les Miserables and many more. During his concert in London, I was able to give him a high five at the stage, it was a magical moment! Since I'm a member of the British Theatre Academy, another inspiration to me is Andrew Lloyd Webber. I like him because he's composed so many great pieces of music for musical theatres such as Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats and many more. I take every opportunity to go and see those shows and have taken part in some of them myself. My final inspiration is my guitar teacher Benjamin Woodbridge from Lewisham Music because he's helped me to improve on the guitar massively and I would never be able to play how I do now without him so I'm very glad I had the opportunity to learn from him. I also have to thank Ben for the London Music Fund Scholarship opportunity as he was the one who nominated me.

We know you’ve been keeping the music playing during the pandemic. Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to and how you’ve found it.

Firstly, I've been practising my grade 2 pieces and scales every day and had weekly 1:1 Zoom lessons so that I don't forget how to play the guitar and secondly, I took part in the online workshops managed by Trinity Laban, where we had to create mini compositions based on a theme or artwork. These workshops were challenging but also interesting and exciting and I'm very happy that I was able to take part in them as they gave me a chance to try out music-making from a different perspective. I've also taken part in an online music festival for young artists organised by Lewisham Music, where I self-taught to play a little piece from the Phantom of the Opera.

Your first year as a Scholar has certainly been unusual! What are you looking forward to most about the next year of your LMF Scholarship?

The most exciting thing I'm looking forward to is to be back in a room and playing music with other talented young musicians. In my opinion, playing together is much more fun and sounds better than just playing by yourself via Zoom! I really miss hearing all the music around me coming from trumpets, violins, cellos, guitars and saxophones as it was during the Scholars Playing Day at Morley College. This was a fantastic day where I could meet all the other scholars and learn, rehearse and perform an arrangement of Holst’s Jupiter. I can't wait for more days like this!

If you had to choose three words to describe what music means for you, what would they be?

If I would have to describe what music means to me in three words, I would use the words happiness, creativity and learning. To me, music is a way of expressing my feelings either through the piano, guitar or singing. I like the challenge a new piece gives me when from not knowing it at all I learn it and perform it to an audience. It makes me proud that I can make people happy by entertaining them. Music is a friend to me and I take every opportunity with it I can - either playing myself or watching and listening to someone else do it.

Rendys with his guitar at home during lockdown