Banging the drum for new music school

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  • Andwele (Aundie) Simons (Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Andwele (Aundie) Simons (Photo by Akil Simmons)


Drummer Andwele Simons has performed as part of the opening act for reggae singer Gyptian and the “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight.

Now the talented musician is gearing to open up his own music school, Cedarshed Workshop.

Starting on January 1, young people can learn from him about the performance and technical aspects of drumming theory, how to maintain and tune the instrument and “really everything that’s involved in drums”.

There will also be Gombey and African drumming classes and he hopes to eventually extend the programme to include other musical instruments, like base guitar, guitar, keyboards and vocal lessons.

He’s also started his own production company, Aun1 Productions, in hopes of holding an annual drum festival here.

He said: “We would be bringing in the drummers for major artists in the industry today, whether it be from Beyonce, Alicia Keys or whatever to get [local musicians] in a space where they can interact with these individuals and feed off of their experience and they can learn a lot from those individuals.

“I would like to produce someone who can be training with some of these major artists [overseas]. I am trying to develop someone that has the aspiration of taking their skill to an international level and prepare them for that world. It’s time to pass that torch.”

Mr Simons was playing drums along with his father’s band Dred Information at the age of two. “I was somewhat of a prodigy,” he said.

”I was about four years old and my dad got me my own drum set at the house and I remember just going at it all the time in my room.

“I was just naturally drawn to the drums and came up with the Gombeys and would be dancing and playing Gombeys, so it was a part of my upbringing.”

He didn’t start formal lessons until age 15.

Two years later he was given a teaching internship at Bermuda Drum and Percussion Institute and eventually opened up his own small school at the Clayhouse Inn, teaching between ten and 12 students.

The 29-year-old said he was heavily influenced by CedarBridge Academy music teacher Anna Flood.

“She really influenced me to take my dream more seriously,’ Mr Simons said. “She really just elevated my craft and was always on me to make sure I did my practising theory and then she just showed me what was possible and where it could take me. She really ignited the flame.”

He started playing for local artists like Canjelae Taylor, Sia Spence and McCartney Darrell.

“I was the original drummer for The Unit, the Island’s number one jazz band, and was the music director for the Bermuda Idol for the first year with a live band,” he said.

“I have played with the Wall Street Band, played backup for The Spinners and was the music director for Etana, a reggae artist who came to Bermuda last year. We opened for Gyptian with Sia and opened for Gladys Knight, a good bit of stuff.”

His first experience with a band came when he joined up with his brother Jacqui Simons and keyboardist Desta Zion Wilson to form Kizzazipiyah (Swahili for new generation).

He comes from a family of musicians; his grandfather Rudy Ford who was an original member of the Bermuda Strollers he knew from an early age music was all he ever wanted to do.

“Music in its entirety inspires me actually. Coming up I was more primarily interested in drums than in the music, but since I have taken on the musical director role with a lot of the bands I play with and realised I enjoy the entire music situation.

“The production and what goes into the production of music knowing what it takes to write music and the thought process that goes into that, the musical arrangements and those types of things all inspire me.”

He said Cedarshed Workshop, located in the music room at CedarBridge Academy, is his next big project.

Lessons are organised so that everyone coming through the programme has to master the basics before moving on.

“The reason for that is because everyone needs the foundation to get to that point. And a lot of people, though they have specific skills, they don’t have the foundation they need to go further.”

Once they finish the basic course, Mr Simons will place them in the necessary level be it beginner, intermediate or advanced.

“It’s a programme that I believe is the best way to get the desired result,” he said. “The desired result is to create musicians that can stretch across any genre of music because we want to teach all genres of music and create an environment where they can actually get into that career.”

For more information e-mail aun1productions@gmail.com.

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Published Nov 28, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm)

Banging the drum for new music school

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