LAUREN Macdonald has never spilled blood on her drums, or had to dodge a flying chair.
But the gifted young musician thinks new movie Whiplash is one of the most inspiring, realistic and terrifying things she has ever seen.
The 17-year-old jazz drummer, from Glasgow, is about to take up her place at one of the country’s most respected music schools.
In the Oscar-nominated film, jazz drumming prodigy Andrew Nieman is terrorised by a demonic music teacher who pushes him so hard his fingers bleed.
It didn’t put Lauren off her dream career – in fact it has made her want to work even harder at it.
Lauren, who has been drumming since she was five, said the film has taught her you have to stand up to bullying teachers and conductors.
She said: “I’ve been really excited to see this film for ages and I loved it. The drummer was amazing – he was really fast and there was a lot of blood on his hands.
“I do get blisters and they are sore when they cut open but I’ve never had blood all over my drumkit. I used ice for my hands but I don’t need a whole bucket like they do in the film.
“I can’t do it as fast as in the film. That is more advanced. I’ve been practising speed and getting faster with triplet fills but it takes a lot of work.
“I think it was really inspiring because you see the drummer is really pushed to the limit and it made me realise that if I think I’m working hard right now, then I just need to try harder.
“At the moment I practise about three times a week for three hours at a time, and can play as loud as I want to when my family are out of the house.
“I just love drumming, it’s really fun and I’ve been playing since I got a plastic kit when I was five. Then I got my first proper kit when I was eight and joined a band when I was in primary five.
“I like playing all kinds of music but jazz has always been special and I’ve always loved the drummer Buddy Rich.
“I’ve always been younger than other people in the band, sometimes three years younger, and it was intimidating.
“I still get intimidated and I’m scared that if someone mucks it up, everybody would be looking at me.
“But the movie shows that you should stand up for yourself and I really liked that.”
In the film written and directed by Damien Chazelle, young actor Miles Teller plays a drummer who comes under the tutelage of a legendary but deranged jazz conductor, played by JK Simmons.
We see him throw chairs, attack, abuse and threaten his musicians, claiming he only wants to bring out the best in them and help them achieve greatness.
And while Lauren hopes she never has to deal with the extreme behaviour shown in the film, she said she hopes she finds teachers who are as dedicated.
“I’ve never had a teacher who has thrown a chair at me. I hope I don’t meet one either,” she said.
“A teacher has never pushed me that far before. At the start I thought he was so mean to all his students and I didn’t like him but you see him pushing people to do better than they thought they could do, so by the end of the film I agreed with him.
“He’s still a psychopath but a good psychopath. I’ve never had anything hurled at me. I have cried before when I got shouted at by a percussion teacher, when I was quite young.
“I was just in P7 at the time and it made me really upset. I hadn’t even done anything wrong in the performance.
“I’d taken the wrong drumkit and she just shouted in my face. People like that just scare me but this movie has told me not to care about them.”
Lauren, a pupil at Eastwood High School, near Glasgow, is looking forward to launching her own career studying for the four-year BMus at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in September.
She is the first female drummer to earn a place on the course.
Lauren went through a gruelling audition process which involved playing with Scots jazz giant Tommy Smith, who is the course leader at the Glasgow institution.
Lauren hopes to become a professional and dreams of performing with Smith’s Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.
She said: “I didn’t think I’d get in. It was really fun and also very nerve-wracking.
“I found out the day after the audition that I had got in and it was amazing.
“I was in tears and everyone was so happy for me and the head of the course, Helen McVey, was shouting and excited because there hadn’t been a girl drummer before.
“It’s going to be fantastic.”
Thanks to Whiplash – named after a jazz track which features in the story – Lauren knows how to react if she ever met a teacher as mad as Simmons’s character.
She said: “If I had a teacher like that, I’d be scared of him and hate him but I’d know why he is doing it. They would only do it to someone who they though was good to try to get more out of you.
“If I wasn’t getting pushed, I’d be worried I wasn’t doing it right and wonder what was going on.
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