Phillip Ragsdell
I have played drums since the age of 12 and since then continued to make my living from playing drums. During my teenage years I had regular lessons with John Savage, played in school and County Youth Orchestras and spent a week with percussionist James Blades. During this time I won a scholarship for percussion lessons at the Guildhall School of Music and attended The Blackfriars Music Centre, Boston, Lincolnshire. I also studied composition and harmony with Edwin Bonser. Although I had classical training, my first love was Jazz and Big Band music which led me to choose Europe's first Jazz and Light Music Course at Leeds College of Music in 1978, giving me an opportunity to continue with percussion playing whilst also honing my improvisational skills on the drum kit. During the course I was tutored by Tony Faulkner and Colin Price and had the chance to play with various Jazz Ensembles, work with Theatre Music and Function Bands and do any other paid work possible, as any good student might! After finishing at Leeds College of Music, I looked for opportunities for a secure career and joined the Royal Air Force Music Services. This enabled me to play in major venues around the world and to work with many well-known artists including The Beverly Sisters, Roy Castle and others. In 1984 I won Percussionist of the Year with an original drum solo and composition. Whilst in the Royal Air Force Music Services I had the unique opportunity to explore traditional, ceremonial drumming patterns and rhythms leading me to be a participant in the Drumming 2000 Seminar which looked at drumming for the new millennium. My career in the Royal Air Force allowed me to spend time to develop my own individual style of drumming and a knowledge of performance as I regularly had to perform to a high standard for live television and radio. After 22 years stationed with The College Band at Cranwell, I left the Royal Air Force and joined the mainstream music scene initially finding work in Scotland with the Celtic Rock Band Piperactive. In 2006 I returned to Leeds College of Music for further studies to refresh and update my understanding of jazz improvisation. Since then I have been performing at drum clinics and working with Jazz Course UK with Rob Hall. I am also a part-time drum educator at Dollar Academy in Clackmannanshire, Scotland. I am currently playing drums with The Biggar Big Band and artists such as Tim Richards, Tim Young, Rob Hall and others. Twelve months ago I decided to start an electronic music project making the drummer a solo artist. This consisted of me working very closely with Jules Tabberer-Stewart, European Drum Project Manager, Roland Europe Group, taking the project to a wide public audience. I see my future delivering more drum clinics to pass on the results of my own experiences and skills, forming a band and encouraging other young aspiring musicians to explore their own creativity and hone their skills within the drumming scene. More information can be found on my website