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Nurturing musical potential

3 years ago


ABRSM contributes to the Mayor's Music Fund, which offers scholarships to talented young London musicians who don’t have the financial means to pursue their musical development.

Shemol, a young scholar, has shared his story with us.

Shemol from North London

Life hasn’t always been easy for Shemol, but he has used music as an effective way to excel in something he’s passionate about.

The ten-year-old from North London is from a single parent family. He, his mum, and his younger sister have been living in temporary accommodation in the last couple of years after being made homeless.


Despite these setbacks, Shemol’s mother Kimberlee has continued to encourage him to nurture his musical abilities.

She initially thought he would be interested in playing the drums, as he used to like tapping pencils on the table to songs that he’d heard in adverts. Then when he was eight, Shemol’s teacher asked her if he could be given piano lessons to learn some jazz songs.

Shemol and his teacher convinced Kimberlee to buy him a piano to practise on. She was income support benefits at the time, but was able to buy it by paying in instalments.


The piano lessons were for 10 to 20 minutes once a week, but after a term Shemol’s teacher left the school. Undeterred, he began teaching himself by watching people play on YouTube videos and the replaying the music himself.

He started performing the songs he had taught himself at events at school, at his local church and even drew a crowd of people to listen to him perform at Heathrow, when he started playing a ‘street piano’ at the airport.

He started playing the guitar at school at 10 years old in a class of 30. His musical flair clearly stood out and his teacher recommended that he should receive individual music lessons.

Music has helped Shemol to increase his confidence and self-esteem, but without the support of the Mayor's Music Fund he wouldn’t be able to have guitar lessons.

Kimberlee says: “Music has really helped to stimulate Shemol. It helps to bring out whatever emotion he is feeling. It has improved his concentration, given him courage and confidence to be in front of a crowd and taught him perseverance.

“Being a Scholar means a lot to Shemol and our family. He is the first person in our family to be awarded a scholarship and also the only person in our family who plays an instrument. It will keep Shemol focused and driven to work hard in order to make a difference.

“Shemol’s ability goes to show, that talent can come from any household, regardless of class or ethnicity.”

Shemol said: “Listening to music is good but playing songs on my instruments is even better!

“I feel really happy and blessed that I can play the piano and the guitar. I feel so happy to make my mum proud. I love making her smile when I play for her.

“Having lessons at school has helped improve my reading, and I’m looking forward to making new friends, having fun and playing in front of people at concerts as a result of the Mayor’s Music Fund.

“All my friends also think I am ‘kid Mozart’, which is awesome!”

Find out more

  • Find out more about Mayor's Music Fund scholarships
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