Teenage drummer Arjuna Alagendra Sen’s positive spirit and determination has enabled him to attain success in many of his endeavours. Recently, the 17-year-old student clinched Britain’s Rockschool Limited’s Player Award in his Grade Eight drum exams.

Rockschool is a leading exam board in rock and pop music in Britain. The award is given to individuals who obtain high marks in the Rockschool exams throughout the world.

“I was extremely happy to receive the award. I practise between two and three hours daily, ensuring I play every single note with 100% accuracy. During the exam, I gave my absolute best. The reward and honour that came later was satisfying and also reflected my effort and determination,” says Arjuna.

He adds that the key to success is hard work and consistent practice. Having the right drum teacher helps, too.

“From the start of my first drum lessons, I practised all the way to the final day of my Grade Eight exam. When you start something, ensure you pursue it to the end. My drum teacher Edwin Nathaniel made lessons enjoyable and interesting. He has nurtured me into the best drummer I can be,” says Arjuna, who also plays the bass guitar and piano.


Drum teacher Edwin Nathaniel (right) has been Arjunas source of inspiration.

If you think you can play like drummers Ringo Starr (of The Beatles) or Eddie Moon (The Who) after your first lesson, you will be disappointed. Arjuna explains that playing the percussion instrument requires concentration, co-ordination and maintaining the right tempo.

“Drummers need to control their feet and sync them with the hands. It also takes time to sync with the drumsticks and the snares, toms and cymbals.

“The drum is also difficult to play as one needs to play the right rhythm,” says Arjuna, citing jazz drummer Buddy Rich and Stewart Copeland (The Police) as some of his favourite drummers.

Arjuna is not the only one in his family to play the drums; his grandmother Puan Sri Datin Seri N. Saraswathy Devi does, too.

“When I was seven years old, my Ammama (grandmother) noticed my interested in learning to play the drums. She unpacked her brand new drum set and presented it to me. She made me promise I would be the best drummer.”

Not one to rest on one’s laurels, the musically inclined teenager is already making plans to complete a teaching diploma in drums.

“Initially, I thought about pursuing a degree in music but I have set my mind on a medical degree,” explains Arjuna, who is pursuing his A-levels in a private school in Kuala Lumpur.

To unwind from studies, Arjuna loves to play the drums with his music buddies, who call themselves Back Seat Restraint.

“My friends and I normally play indie-rock or jazz pieces. I also perform drums in my band and for the orchestra. When I have extra time, I have jamming sessions in the studio. I took Music as a subject in my IGCSE and A-levels. Part of the requirement of the syllabus is composing and writing music. I enjoy creating and composing music very much.”

When he isn’t busy with homework, we can only imagine Arjuna trying out new rudiments and shredding on the cymbals and snare drum.

The Paper’s People is a weekly column which introduces Malaysia-based everyday folk, doing what they love. If you have any person to recommend, e-mail us at star2@thestar.com.my.

Talented drummer Arjuna with his Player Award.