A year on from the UK’s first lockdown, the landscape of music teaching has overcome many obstacles to help students achieve their musical goals.

We recently caught up with drummer and educator Andy Franklin to see how he and his students have been getting on at ALF Drum Studios. His students have managed to achieve fantastic results despite the adversity that the past year has thrown at them - keep an eye out for their impressive exam performances as you read on!

ALF Drum Studios is in its fifth professional year and is run by Andy who has studied drums and percussion for nearly 40 years.

Andy says :“ It’s a place in Essex where I believe students can learn both drum technique and theory and above all have fun . The large studio has the latest technology and ideas in drumming to guide students of all levels to achieve their drumming dreams and aspirations.”

How have you transitioned to online teaching during the various lockdowns?

I have, like my students, had to adapt and change to lockdown so has the studio. We have added online teaching for the studio but only in the last lockdown. I wanted make sure it was of a high quality before adding it to studio’s teaching and I believe it is starting to work very well, although I would add all of my students miss coming to the studio for their lessons as it is a wonderful place to study.

Andy's remarkable students: Vicky G, 43 Distinction in Grade Debut video performance; Louis P, 9, Merit in Grade 1 video performance; Louis O, 17, Distinctions in both Grade 4 and 6 grade exam.

You’ve had such brilliant results from your students, you must be really proud…

Proud is an understatement. It’s everything and every reason I became a professional music teacher and educator.

How have you found the video exam format?

I really love the performance exam format. It has encouraged students who weren’t previously keen on taking exams to take and achieve great results. However I also believe the face to face grade exams are an important experience for all students, especially senior level students.

Louis M, 13, Distinction in Grade Debut video performance exam; Alex B, 10, Distinction Grade Debut video performance exam; Alex G, 34, Distinction Grade 6 grade exam (face to face); Nathan W, 7 for his first exam in 2020 then 8 for his second last exam period, Distinctions in both Grade Debut and Grade one video performance; Anna D (not pictured), Distinctions in Grades 1 and 2.

How have you adapted your studio to incorporate video exams as one of your product offerings?

I have invested in the video exams as a format and I am pleased I have. We record great quality exams and have camera mounts and professional camera stands and equipment. Low volume cymbals and EQ drum heads are used for great recordings and all audio is provided by studio monitors. Mock exams are given to allow the students to understand the exam presentation.

You have so many cool projects going on at the moment, what does the rest of 2021 have instore for you?

Well, firstly to get back to face to face teaching but also to still offer video lessons as an alternative. I hope to offer an exam video recording service after lockdown for students studying RSL syllabuses, but not just for Drum grades. I also hope to be working on new projects with The Clem Burke Drumming Project who I am proud to be recognised by as a drummer and part of their team. I have my study goals to achieve and hope to perform again and also possibly tech for my favourite artists if given the opportunity. The studio has a workshop where we rebuild, service and sell quality instruments to students so there’s plenty in store for 2022.

Andy and RSL go back a long way! Check out his thoughts on our interactive sheet music player, Replay, in the video below!