Double Grade 8 Exam Success for Laila Riley
Laila commenced her Guitar Studies with me at the Cassidy Guitar Studio in 2012 when she was 10 years old accompanied by either her Mum Karen, Dad Trevor or, on most occasions, by her Grandad Mick.
A little shy and apprehensive to begin with Laila started to make progress with her Electric and Acoustic playing and with her singing (we hope that will make a come-back one day!). Exam success soon followed with Distinction at Grades 2 and 4 for Electric Guitar…
and attendance at various Junior Group Workshops…
But then Laila seemed to lose her way a little with the guitar and took a year off from lessons during most of 2015.
When she returned in early 2016, Laila had a very different approach and a much more determined attitude – I think her recent change of School was a very good move. So further improvement and exam success followed with a Distinction and Merit at Electric Guitar Grades 5 and 6. Her new school, Polam in Darlington, were also quick to spot Laila’s talents and she was awarded the School’s Strings Trophy in 2016…
In terms of her lessons, things then took a different course as Laila decided she’d like to try the Bass. Now most guitarists can “play” the Bass but usually sound like Guitarists trying to play the Bass. Laila sounded like a Bass player from the start with great rhythm and feel. So our Bass adventure started and soon led to further Exam success with Distinctions at both Grades 5 and 6 on Electric Bass during 2018.
Further recognition followed from her school when Laila was awarded the Cawson Shield for Musical Achievement in October 2018 just as she commenced her A level studies at Sixth Form. Here she is with her proud Grandad Mick who enjoyed bringing Laila to her lessons over many years.
Tragedy struck shortly after this photo was taken when Mick passed away suddenly in November 2018.
Laila was very close to her Grandad so, as you can imagine, she and the rest of the very close knit family were totally devastated. They say that adversity brings out the true character of a person, well in this situation Laila began to display her solid grit and determination which I have witnessed growing over the years…
Sitting in my Teaching Studio during Laila’s lessons and looking around at the many guitars in very stages of build, Mick as an Aeronautical Engineer, obviously began to think about a project of his own. Laila’s first electric guitar had fallen into a sad state of disrepair so Mick had decided to respray it and rebuild it. Unfortunately he didn’t have time to finish this project. So Laila decided that not only would she like to finish it, but she also wanted to play it at Mick’s funeral.
So we spent quite a bit of time in my Workshop over the next week making the best of Mick’s project and in honour of him, Laila placed his name on the headstock.
Laila then went on to play an instrumental piece at Mick’s funeral on the guitar (which is very well known to all of my Grade 6 to 8 students) – a Jazz / Bossa Nova rendition of “This Masquerade” in the style of Joe Pass. Quite an achievement for a 16 year old who had just lost her Grandad.
So, back to work. Having achieved Grade 6 in both Electric Guitar and Bass we started to plan for Grade 8 and worked on both Guitar and Bass simultaneously.
Now as most Guitarists who work towards Grade 8 know, a Grade 8 appointment with an RGT / LCM Examiner is quite a daunting prospect. But as we started to approach Grade 8 standard the prospect of doing both Grade Exams in the same Session came up. Now we’re talking about a young Lady in the Lower VIth with 18 months or so to go until she thinks about going off to University, but being Laila she wasn’t phased by the prospect. So we set our sights on a dual Grade 8 in Summer 2019.
Whilst preparing Laila was lucky enough to join Sing Again Siren who have quickly become a must see Band on the North East circuit. This has very quickly given her a lot of live Band experience which has really helped her Bass playing and general Musicianship.
As Laila and her Band really are doing so well I was very pleased to agree an Endorsement Deal for Laila and build her a new Cassidy UK Custom JB which I have no doubt will take her on to achieve great things.
So the fateful day came around at 9am on a Saturday morning Laila met the Examiner for her Grade 8 Guitar Exam. After completing that she had a 40 minute break before going back in to complete her Grade 8 Bass Exam. Not used to this level of stress so early on a Saturday morning, Laila survived the ordeal and then we just had to wait a couple of weeks for the results.
Delighted for Laila achieving RGT / LCM Grade 8 in Electric Guitar (Distinction) and Electric Bass Guitar (Merit) at the same Session. And remember this was achieved in the same morning by a young lady of just 17 years of age!!! I have never seen a student do this and I don’t think I am ever likely see it again. It is just a pure joy for me to be able to pass on the spark of enthusiasm given to me by my teachers and see it burn in a growing number of fine Musicians like Laila.
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