Sigma DJ thanks music teacher for kick-starting his career

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SIGMA DJ Joe Lenzie says a teacher kick-started his career by letting him play jungle remixes of baroque music in school assembly.

The chart-topping musician revealed he performed a drum and bass remix of Pachelbel’s much-loved late 17th Century composition Canon in D.

Lenzie, who was 11 at the time, thanked the unnamed teacher and said he encouraged his career because he was willing to embrace electronic music.

The 33-year-old’s revelation comes at the same time as another major DJ criticised traditional music education in schools for being “rigid”.

Drum and Bass DJ Lincoln Barrett, better known by his stage name High Contrast, has said all his music education was focused on “traditional rules” and “traditional instruments”.

Leading music teachers have agreed with the claims and have said electronic genres should be explored in class.

Lenzie, who grew up in St Albans, Herts, told an education magazine: “The music teacher at my senior school was very open-minded and encouraging.

“He let me and my brother perform a jungle remix of Pachelbel’s Canon in assembly when I was 11.”

He adds that encouragement like this is needed in school, saying: “[electronic music is] a very hard business to persevere in – you have to eat, sleep, bearthe it and even then there are no gurantees you’ll make it.

“But when you love the music you’ll accept that as part of it. And any student who shows that level of interest or potential to show that commitment should be encouraged anyway.”

Barrett, interviewed for the same article, has said Lenzie’s experience was nothing like his own.

He said of his own music education, while growing up in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan: “It all seemed very rigid. Everything was focused on traditional instruments and traditional rules and grades and tests.

“This to me, goes against what motivates and inspires most people in electronic music. It’s a genre that is inherently based on breaking rules and thinking differently.

“My own personal experience of music education didn’t encourage this at all.”
Sara Thomas, leader of music at Michaelston Community College and Lyn Derw High School in South Wales agreed that electronic music should be taught in schools.

She said: “Students’ composing skills aren’t hindered by their level of playing ability or performing capabilities with electronic music.

“If they have really exciting ideas in their heads, electronic techniques can help them realise those ideas and learn from their mistakes.

“Software such as Logic and Pro Tools is hugely beneficial for all young musicians; ones that are interested in electronic music and ones that play traditional instruments.”

Jungle is a genre of electronic music that developed in England in the early 1990s as part of rave music scenes.

The genre is characterised by fast tempos of around 160 beats per minute, along with reggae inspired basslines.

Working together since 2006 after meeting at Leeds University, Lenzie and his co-DJ Cameron Edwards had their first number one single in 2014, with Nobody to Love.

They had a second number one later with Changing that year, featuring Paloma Faith.
Lenzie is not the first musician to credit his teacher with success.

Grammy Award-winning soul singer Patti LaBelle has famously praised her high school teacher Mrs. Eileen Brown for being her mentor growing up. The two maintained a relationship throughout LaBelle’s career.

Former US president Bill Clinton credited his renowned ability on the saxophone to his high school band director, Mr Virgil Spurlin.

But aside from this, Clinton also said that Mr Spurlin helped him in his presidency too, after convincing him that he could “organize and run things” in any walk of life.

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