Mastering Chick Corea’s jazz-fusion song ‘Spain’ is no mean feat. It is incredibly fast, technically difficult, and for Year 13 musician Patrick Cheeseman, conquering its challenges has been his proudest achievement to date.
A jazz fan for more years than he can remember, the highly focussed teen has been playing the piano for six years, learns the saxophone through ACG Strathallan’s music programme and has taught himself to play the guitar.
Patrick currently plays the saxophone in the big band jazz band, and the school concert band. Plus, he plays piano in the jazz ensemble ‘Minho and the Drongos’, which placed in the 2020 Play It Strange competition and earned silver at the 2021 Tauranga National Youth Jazz Competition. The big band jazz band he performs with was also awarded silver at the event.
“Being part of these groups has taught me how to think on my feet and go with the flow, to be open to new ideas and to communicate well with band members. When communication is going well, you can take others’ ideas and build on the melodic line and rhythmic ideas,” says Patrick.
“The teachers are always happy to help when you need it and have extended my musical knowledge beyond what is required of the Cambridge curriculum. I have enjoyed being able to try loads of musical instruments – even if my mother made me practice the piano accordion outside! And in my study period, I’m learning sound engineering by doing a correspondence paper with the support of Mr Mckay, my music teacher.”
For his Cambridge assessment this year, Patrick will perform 20 minutes of jazz piano, including Jon Batiste’s version of ‘Saint James Infirmary Blues’, Thelonious Monk’s version of ‘I Should Care’ and Cory Henry’s version of ‘Crazy’. He’ll be looking to bossa nova (a style of jazz that uses Latin American percussion and rhythms) as inspiration for his original composition.
“The freedom to express myself creatively is very important to me. I feel that music alone can sometimes express even more than words. It can communicate emotion in a way that does not require a shared language.”
During his five years at ACG Strathallan, Patrick has learnt how to take an idea and develop it into a piece of music that can be performed individually or as a group. As a result, he has relished all the opportunities he’s experienced to work collaboratively with his fellow students.
But while music is his top priority, Patrick revels in numerous other aspects of school life.
“I’ve been involved in the school production every year since I started at ACG Strathallan, and this year I have the lead role of Danny in the musical ‘Grease’.”
In addition, he and some other ACG students created a 15-minute extract of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for the Shakespeare festival competition earlier this year. And, of course, the annual Strathallan talent competition is another calendar highlight for the gifted musician.
“I always participate in the talent show, sometimes performing, other times accompanying singers on the keyboard, and last year, I helped manage microphones and the soundboard. I also enjoy the service opportunities ACG Strathallan provides. Most recently, I volunteered for the Technology for Seniors workshop.”
Next year Patrick is Wellington bound, heading to Victoria University to study a Bachelor of Music, majoring in composition, specialising in film scoring.
“I want to keep doing gigs and performing with people as much as possible, but my ultimate goal is to become a composer for film, television and video games.”