He’s one of the kool kids. You know the ones. The kids you can talk to about stuff like old-school technology, the 90’s and the history of black music. It’s only after about five minutes of talking with him that you pause and have to remind yourself: “Right. This guy is only seven years old.”
IS THIS GOING TO WORK?
Friends, meet Axton Aryee. Axton is a burgeoning drummer who fills a room with his energy and makes us laugh. Alot. We met Axton during a time that didn’t exactly set the stage for success and long-term relationships. You see, Axton had registered for our Spring 2020 Little Beats class. You can guess how the story goes. We were all set for a fun, in-person session and then boom. The NBA cancelled its games. Followed by the NHL. And then schools announced that they were transitioning to online learning until further notice. COVID. It changed everything.
This meant that Axton was part of our first-ever online Little Beats class. To say that we were nervous and unsure about this transition was an understatement. We had to rewrite our curriculum, change our teaching style and figure out a way to connect with a bunch of 3-5 year olds via a screen. Yikes. But Axton’s family didn’t give up on us. Instead they showed us the power of community, grace and banding together (see what we did there?) during the tough times.
It was during this online Little Beats session that one of our teachers, Angela, crossed paths with Axton for the first time: “I remember meeting Axton virtually during our first online Little Beats session in the height of the pandemic.” Fast forward three years and Axton is still going strong. After completing his online Little Beats session, he transitioned to our in-person Bigger Beats programs where he had the chance to try learning piano, ukulele and drums to see which one he liked best. Which instrument ended up being the winner? Drums. And who ended up being his teacher once he transitioned to private drum lessons? Angela. “Axton is always asking to learn something really tricky.” shares Angela, “Currently he is trying to get the sixteenth note [drum] beat under his hands - which is quite the challenge for someone who hasn’t been drumming for that long. But if any beginner can do it, Axton can. He has an amazing sense of feel.” What can we say? These two are a match made in heaven.
What’s one of Axton’s favourite things about drums? It’s not what you might expect. He likes playing drums because of the technology. More specifically, he likes playing an electric kit. If you know Axton, this attraction to technology is normal if not entirely expected. He loves video games, video game theme songs and understanding what drives the technology behind the screen. If he’s talking about anything circa 2000, he’ll casually refer to this era of tech as “old school.” We’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that Axton is seven. Our students are absolutely the best.
"[Backbeat] is a music place where you learn music and you do awesome things and tell teachers about your life."
IT'S MORE THAN MUSIC
So what’s kept Axton coming back? “[Backbeat] is a music place where you learn music and you do awesome things and tell teachers about your life.” shares Axton. His mom, Max, also has a pretty honest perspective to add: “Axton feels like he’s found a place [where] he is understood and fits in which is very different from his school experience. Before coming to Backbeat, Axton didn't really find a friend group that he fit into so he played by himself often. Coming [to Backbeat] changed that for him.”
From Little Beats to Bigger Beats to private lessons and, most recently, Intro to Drums, Axton keeps rising to the occasion and has his sights set on joining a Rock Band someday soon. But he has one condition: his band name has to be the “Xboxes.” Axton, we have a deal.
We’re looking forward to the day when Axton is backing up a Rock Band from behind the kit. Until then, we’re going to keep bringing him our tech questions, laughing at the awesome things he says and basking in his contagious energy.
Axton - here’s to you!