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Music & Education

Passing it on to the next generation

This month, Education Today looks at music performance in the UK education system. In our first feature, we focus on a visit from legendary vocal group The Drifters to the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford.


n November 4th, legendary vocal group The Drifters gave students of the Academy of Contemporary Music a unique educational experience in the form of a performance and masterclass. Alongside this fantastic opportunity, one lucky student (who won a competition put on by the Academy) got the chance to perform alongside the icons with the results being broadcast on a local radio station. Inspired by early rock ‘n’ roll, American group ‘The Drifters’ was first formed by the Treadwell family back in 1953 as a doo-wop and R&B/soul vocal group. They soon became forerunners to both the black music movement in the 1950’s and early Motown - it’s this extraordinary story that helped define Atlantic Records. Since 1953 there have been over 65 different members of The Drifters, which have included icons such as Clyde McPhatter, Ben E King, Rudy Lewis and Johnny Moore.

Selling in excess of 214 million singles and 114 million albums across the globe, it comes as no surprise that The Drifters have got over fifty hits under their belt including classics such as, ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, ‘Under the Boardwalk’, ‘On Broadway’, ‘Up On the Roof’, ‘Come On Over to My Place’ and ‘Kissing in the Back Row of the Movies’.

The current line-up includes Daniel Bowen Smith, Michael Williams, Ryan King and Jerome Bucknor.

Having successfully re-branded and reinvented the group over the past 62 years, The Drifters are not only one of the biggest selling and longest serving bands of all time, but they have also achieved legendary status on both sides of the Atlantic. With their latest album ‘Stand By Me’ (a tribute to former member Ben E King) reaching number 17 in the charts, their careers have anything but slowed down. Championing the need for good music industry education, The Drifters feel


an extreme obligation to pass on their knowledge to the next generation, creating the best opportunities for the future of the music industry. Regularly attending events at schools and colleges up and down the country, The Drifters were very excited at the prospect of running one of their famous sessions at the prestigious Academy of Contemporary Music. The Academy, in partnership with The Drifters, had a vision of offering a truly unique and unforgettable experience in which one student would receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and some excellent credentials for their musical CV. So alongside a master class, performance and Q & A session, ACM ran a competition in which one of the vocal degree students would get to perform alongside The Drifters - singing a main vocal line. This unique and career-changing performance was then broadcast on local radio station Eagle FM reaching over 139,000 listeners in the Surrey and Hampshire area.

November 2015

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