Rockschool Stories returns to take centre stage with ten-year-old School of Rock extraordinaire, Hanley Webb! Read on to meet Hanley and find out more about his captivating musical journey so far!
Reaching New Heights
Hanley has always had a passion for music and especially guitars. Having started playing the guitar at 5 years old, Hanley developed his own unique style quite young, which only helped him during his years of studying to become better and better!
He has since achieved a Distinction for Rockschool Grade 8 Electric Guitar at the age of just 10! A fantastic musical achievement.
Between playing in Andrew Lloyd Webber's “School of Rock” Musical and winning 3rd place in a Guitar Solo Competition run by Phil X (Bon Jovi), out of entries all over the world, we can actually see how much passion he puts into his playing. No wonder he’s smashing his exams so consistently.
The Journey to Greatness
A while back, we had a chat with Hanley and his parents, Stuart and Tamara, about his musical progression, which guitarists inspire him, what advice would he give to other starting musicians and so on. You can find the full interview down below:
1. When did you first pick up a guitar, and why?Hanley: "I started playing the guitar at the age of 5, there have always been guitars around the house as my Dad plays bass in a band for fun. I love seeing him play to an audience and thought I’d like to do that!"
2. What did you like most about studying with Rockschool?Hanley: "I really enjoyed learning the different tracks RSL offer, it was difficult for me to choose which ones to study as I liked so many."
3. How did your teacher combine his knowledge with this material to help you learn the fundamentals of the guitar?Hanley: "I’ve been lucky enough to be taught by Michael Lee at XYZ Academy, Aylesbury. He’s really good at breaking musical theory down into manageable sections that make it interesting and fun to learn."
4. Is there a technique you struggled with most, and how did you overcome it?Hanley: "One of the trickiest techniques I’ve found to master so far is creating pinched harmonics, initially I just couldn’t get them to squeal like Van Halen so I practised, and practised, and practised until I got it."
5. Is there a style/genre you feel most comfortable in, or do you feel prepared to tackle anything musically?Hanley: "I currently feel most comfortable playing rock guitar, however as I develop, I would like to explore neoclassical style which I’m currently listening to a lot at the moment."
6. What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety?Hanley: "Performing live was tough at first, but playing in the ‘School of Rock' musical has really helped me gain experience when it comes to playing in front of large audiences. I think if the audience sees you enjoying yourself, they also follow and enjoy the whole experience together with you."
7. Are there any guitarists who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?Hanley: "Yes, I have lots of guitarists that inspire me. They include of course: Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, but also Eric Gales, Guthrie Govan, Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Steve Lukather and Phil X. What I really admire is how they create their own unique style and voice on the guitar and I think that’s really important, to be yourself and find your own voice."
8. Favourite track from Rockschool Guitar, and why?Hanley: "My favourite would have to be ‘Meet Darth Ear’ from Rockschool Electric Guitar Grade 8 as the track is heavy, but is also tight and moves through different feelings of light and shade."
9. For all the musicians starting out there, what advice would you give to them?Hanley: "Practice, practice, practice and listen to lots of different styles of music. Also, have your own sound and express yourself in your own unique way!"
Finding your Voice
As Hanley said above, finding your own voice is one of the most important missions in an artist’s career. We are so glad to see more and more young artists finding their voices with the help of RSL Awards, it only makes our hearts grow bigger.
A big thank you to Hanley and his parents for taking the time to speak to us. Make sure you keep up with the new updates in Hanley's musical journey by following him on Instagram and YouTube. If you'd like to enquire about how you can learn Rockschool Electric Guitar and follow in Hanley's footsteps, you can click here to get started now!
If you'd like to nominate yourself, a music teacher you know, or even an entire school for a new chapter of Rockschool Stories, click on the button below and drop us a message!