Students at LVS Hassocks, an award-winning independent specialist school in Sayers Common for young people with autism, were excited last week when Russ Gleason, co-founder of online drumming community Drum Hangs, dropped in to present them with a brand-new drum kit.
Together with co-founder Neal Wilkinson, Russ wanted to give students another way of communicating with the world and expressing themselves and set about raising the money to purchase a drum kit.
The kit is the second at the school and will be used to support the music provision that students already receive. All students at LVS Hassocks have the opportunity to partake in music lessons and some students have been developing their drumming skills over the last year.
Session drummer, Neal has performed with the likes of Paul McCartney, James Morrison, Ray Charles and Annie Lennox and can be regularly spotted on screen providing the music for shows including X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. Together with Russ, who has worked behind the scenes of the music industry and performed at festivals, theatres, clubs and bars internationally, they have over 65 years’ experience of drumming.
In lockdown the pair decided to form Drum Hangs to connect drummers worldwide and enable them to join immersive and informal experiences online. Russ hosts weekly shows during which special guests from the drumming community join him and Neal and audience participation is very much encouraged.
LVS Hassocks’ principal, Jen Weeks, commented: “We were overwhelmed when Russ told us about Drum Hangs and said that they would like to donate a drumkit to the school. We already have a number of talented artists working towards their GCSE Art and music provides another important creative outlet for our students, enabling them to express themselves as well as experience the joy of playing and listening to music.”
Speaking on behalf of Drum Hangs, Russ Gleason added: “It’s an honour for us to have been able to donate a beautiful Gretsch drum kit to LVS Hassocks. As the Drum Hangs community continues to grow, we know that the possibilities are endless for us to be able to make a difference, and we shall be fully embracing any opportunity to do so.”