Hangberg drummer hits all the right notes

Lorenzo Thomas passed his Grade 3 Trinity exam with flying colours.

Hout Bay High School pupil Lorenzo Thomas was once told he should never keep music to himself; rather, he should share it with as many people as possible.

It is a piece of advice he carries with him wherever he goes, and certainly this is a young man who is going places.

The 19-year-old drummer recently achieved an astonishing 95 percent for his Grade 3 practical in the prestigious Trinity College London examinations, but is determined not to rest on his laurels.

“From next year, I will be helping to teach drumming to other pupils at Hout Bay High,” the affable Grade 11 told the Sentinel.

“It is something I am very excited about.”

A self-taught musician, Lorenzo’s passion for drumming began at the tender age of nine while attending his local church in Hangberg. The uplifting gospel music, driven by the powerful beat, struck an immediate chord with the youngster, and it was not long before he was part of the band himself, bringing joy to hundreds of worshippers each Sunday.

However, Lorenzo knew that in order to improve, he would require more formal training. Fortunately, the Kronendal Music Academy (KMA) in Hout Bay recognised that in this young man there lay an exceptional talent, and he was readily accepted into its programme.

It was through the KMA and Hout Bay High School teacher Amanda Swart that he was encouraged to take the Trinity exam.

“They (examiners) gave me a chart to play from. I actually didn’t know what to expect, but in the end I actually found it easy. I was very excited when I was told I had scored 95 percent.”

He said his parents, teachers and friends had all been incredibly supportive, and were thrilled with his achievement.

“I am really looking forward to teaching the other kids. I also want to encourage them to join the KMA, because I have learnt such a lot there.”

Ms Swart said she was “exceptionally proud” of Lorenzo, a pupil she had come to consider her “baby” since starting at the school in 2013.

“I remember when I told the class that I came from the Free State, this quiet child immediately asked me if I was a Cheetah,” she quipped.

“As you can tell, Lorenzo is also mad about rugby. He is such a well-balanced child. I think as he has achieved more with his music, so he has grown in confidence in other aspects of his life, which is just so inspirational to see.”

Despite his successes, Lorenzo is under no illusions that the music business can be difficult to break into. While it remains a dream to follow in the footsteps of his idols, jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim and drummer Claude Cousins, he will also be pursuing a career as a fireman on completion of his studies.

“I think it’s important to have a career first, so it will take three years for me to qualify as a fireman. Of course, I will still be keeping up with my drumming during that time, because that is my passion,” he said.

To Hout Bay High principal Juan Julius, Lorenzo’s attitude is music to his ears. “It is not easy for youngsters in our communities to avoid the bad influences, but Lorenzo has managed to do it. The school is very proud of all that he has achieved,” he said.

Should members of the public wish to donate music equipment to Hout Bay High School, they can contact the school on 021 790 4951.