Young Artist Interview: Shane Forbes

What is your instrument or specialisation?
Drum kit

What was your musical education?
Music was always a part of my home life, and I grew up listening to Cuban, Jazz and Soul. My formal music education started at 12 with drum tuition at school and weekly music training at the CYM (Centre for Young Musicians). In 2007, I gained a BMus (Hons) Jazz at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

What jazz artists have inspired you the most?
I’ve always enjoyed a variety of music styles, but I started listening to John Coltrane from a very young age. Miles Davies, Herby Hancock, Art Blakey and the many musicians I’ve met have also inspired me to keep learning, playing and most importantly, experimenting with new musical styles.

Do you play solo or in an ensemble?

I have two main music projects.

Empirical: Empirical is a Mobo award-winning jazz band and my longest reigning project. It comprises me and my three favourite musicians: Nathaniel Facey (saxophone), Lewis Wright (vibraphone) and Tom Farmer (Double Bass). We’ve been described as everything from “fascinating and fearless” to “the coolest of British young bands” but our main aim is to keep challenging ourselves. Our latest album Tabula Rasa translates as ‘blank slate’. It’s a series of compositions that challenge the listener to listen with an open mind.

Shane’s Wave: I started Shane’s Wave as a way to help other musicians meet. When I was growing up there seemed to be far more opportunities for musicians to meet up and jam together. Having that opportunity is crucial to musical development. Of course, it’s also a whole lot of fun. Currently, I run two regular jamming sessions for musicians of mixed age and ability. One is every Tuesday evening at Charlie Wright’s Music Bar, Hoxton. The second is held on a Wednesday evening at Lift 574, Dalston.

What Company prize did you win and when?
Worshipful Company of Musicians Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2009

What does being a prizewinner mean to you?
Winning the Young Jazz Musician prize is a wonderful accolade. Aside from receiving prize money, I had the chance to perform at a top jazz club with the band of my choice. I chose my band, Empirical, and we played at the Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho. Despite clashing with England playing in the 2010 World Cup – tough competition! – it was a good gig that was recorded at high quality. Being a prizewinner has led to paid opportunities to conduct workshops and teach as a Yeoman within London schools.

Tell me about your Outreach work.
I’ve run a number of workshops within schools as a Yeoman. I’ve also had the chance to run workshops for disabled children, both of which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Outreach work is very rewarding as I can share my passion with children and hone my teaching skills. It’s amazing how excited the children get when they see the drums!

How do you teach an audience of 60 young children?
Working with classrooms of say 60 kids requires a different approach to teaching someone 1-1. Some children I meet have never seen a drum or heard it acoustically so I start by talking a little about myself and showing them the different parts of the drum kit and the drum sticks I use. After knocking out a few simple drum beats, it’s their time to have a go.

How has the Company been helpful to you?
Where do I start? I’ve made new contacts, and the Yeoman work enables me to share my passion with children who might become drummers themselves. It’s also really helped me develop my teaching skills.

What are your future plans?
I’d like to develop the Shane’s Wave project and get more musicians and venues involved, possibly even hold Shane’s Wave at festivals and other open air events. I simply want to get more musicians meeting, playing, collaborating and starting their own music projects. Anyone keen to get involved or find out more can contact me via

What advice would you give new Yeomen?
Find out a little about the school and the children you’ll be teaching before you hold the workshop so you can tailor it to their needs.