Waimate guitarist Isaac Williams is rocketing towards an exciting career in the music industry, which is no surprise to anyone who knows him and has charted his progress to date. 

Since starting guitar lessons at the age of six, Isaac has had success in numerous competitions in South Canterbury and beyond, played at many concerts and other events, and also dabbled in bass, drums and composition. Now in Year 12 at Waimate High School and with just one year left at school, he hopes to eventually pursue tertiary study at MAINZ where he has already completed a short Audio Engineering course.

Since Trinity introduced Rock & Pop exams in 2014, Isaac has sat an exam every year, consistently gaining distinction results, and in 2016, he was awarded 92 for Grade 8 which is the highest level of exam. The highlight of his Grade 8 exam was his performance of Maggot Brain by Funkadelic which earned him a none-too-shabby 25 out of 25. The examiner noted that this “was a very atmospheric, beautiful rendition of the song…..fully engaged performance, intelligent and individual.”

Alistair Bradley, Isaac’s teacher at Starbound Studios in Timaru, says “from the first day Isaac impressed me with his ability and feel for music on the guitar. Since Isaac started the Trinity Rock & Pop exams… this has really polished his playing and musicianship immensely….Isaac is a talented musician, very focused and dedicated to his craft…I am positive he will succeed in the music industry.”

Rock & Pop exams are all about learning through performance, playing some great music, and developing technique and confidence. Candidates play three songs; the song list features a wide range of artists, from the Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Joni Mitchell through to Radiohead, Kings of Leon and Jessie J. One song can be own choice, a cover or original composition, a great option for songwriters. There’s scope here to play unaccompanied, with a backing track, self-accompany, or perform with another live musician.

Session Skills are also tested: a choice of either Playback or Improvisation. Playback tests aural and/or reading abilities, while Improvisation tests stylistic understanding and response.

Isaac says “I love listening to, playing and creating music,” and Trinity’s Rock & Pop exams offer him and thousands of other students worldwide the opportunity to do just that – and more. Exam candidates get a written report with valuable feedback from the examiner. The grades become progressively more difficult so there’s the incentive to keep getting better, and measure progress on a regular basis. 

Trinity is an international exam board operating in nearly 60 countries worldwide. The Standards applied to Isaac’s exams in Timaru equal those we’d see anywhere from London to Hong Kong, Sydney to Dubai. It’s good to know how the talent that’s growing right here in our back yard measures up on the international stage and Isaac can be reassured that he’s up there with the best!

Visit this page for information and resources including songbooks, downloads and videos. Rock & Pop is also on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and Trinity Rock & Pop Blog includes lots of tips for improvisation, as well as posts from the examiners themselves.