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Hailing from Scotland, ACM Higher Diploma Drum Alumni (2002) Windsor McGilvray spent much of his early years gigging with friends in local venues and learning with some great musicians and teachers including Mick Coyle and Ted McKenna (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Rory Gallagher, and The Michael Schenker Group).
Windsor sees music – and all art forms alike – as a pure expression of life itself and a gift he feels privileged to share globally with friends and family. ACM caught up with Windsor to find out what’s he’s been up to since graduating.
What motivated you to come and study at ACM?
After graduating from high school with decent academic grades I was expected to go to university and study business, which I did, choosing to study law, psychology and marketing. Apart from finding some of the psychology lecturer’s jokes amusing, I felt bored at uni. and didn’t enjoy it. I was doing what I thought I should do and not what I wanted to, which was primarily drumming and music.
At that time, I was playing in a band with one of my friends whose guitar teacher studied guitar with ACM founder Phil Brookes. That particular friend was going to ACM to study music and I felt pretty upset when I thought about not having the opportunity to do the same since music and drumming appealed to me so much more than my uni. studies then did. After some pleading with my parents it was agreed upon and arranged for me to audition for ACM, and soon after auditioned I was offered a place on one of ACM’s drum courses.
What was the best part about studying at ACM?
The best part about studying at ACM was probably being in an environment that facilitated me following my excitement and passion for music and drumming and provided me with the opportunity to meet and learn with some of the finest musicians and drummers in the UK. I’m also very grateful to have met some of my favourite musicians and learned a lot when attending many of the guest artist masterclasses hosted by ACM.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to since leaving ACM?
After graduating from ACM and touring I returned to teach at ACM and since then I have taught on all levels of the ACM drum curriculum, from the part time school to degree level. When not teaching at ACM I have been working as a professional musician and in recent years have also been exploring psychology and coaching, sharing my understanding with others and being part of their realization of greater levels of happiness and success in life.
Who have you been working with?
Musically I have worked with a variety of artists including Hugh Cornwell (Solo artist and ex-The Stranglers singer and guitarist), Fish (Solo artist, ex-Marillion), Paul Martinez (Led Zeppelin, George Harrison), BJ Cole (Sting, Sir Elton John, Bjork), and Chris Goulstone (Lost, Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, American Pie etc). My recording experience includes work with Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T-Rex etc), Danny Kadar (My Morning Jacket, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miles Davis), Brian Tench (Kate Bush, Tina Turner), Andy Todd (Republica, S-Club), and Andy Hill (Vanessa Mae, Bucks Fizz, Jeff Beck, Celine Dion).
What’s been your proudest moment/career highlights so far?
The first highlight that comes to mind was recording an album in New Orleans with Hugh Cornwell when I was in my early twenties. At that time I very much enjoyed the music of New Orleans, such as that by The Meters, Dr. John, and more, and was excited to be where that music emerged. Also, at that point I had been creating music with Hugh for a few years and we had bonded musically and developed our musical chemistry. It was nice to document some of that in the studio.
Following those sessions, I found it fascinating to contemplate being on an album that people could buy in the shops. The fact that instances of my musical creativity had ended up on a piece of plastic next to other pieces of plastic representing bands that I grew up listening to felt like a major achievement but also quite natural.
Some other career highlights so far have been playing on Czech TV for the Czech president and also touring with Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famers Blondie. It was lovely to play at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and also to hang out with rock stars pretty much every day, see how people relate to them, and realize that beyond the illusion of status, we are all flesh and blood, pure heart and soul.
So what’s on the horizon for 2013?
I have a few projects in the works. My main musical focus at present is recreating the Jimi Hendrix “Band of Gypsys” album live next month with some friends in a line-up consisting of guitar, bass, drums, and a six-piece gospel soul choir. We are playing at the Woolley Festival in Bath on July 13 under the name “Message To Love”.
I also have some open space in my schedule in which I’m looking forward to welcoming some nice surprises.
Do you have any advice or tips for our current ACM students?
First, have fun!
Second, ACM provides many wonderful opportunities and very experienced and gifted tutors with thousands of hours of professional musical experience, and if you want to learn effectively I recommend listening, asking questions, and booking tutorials.
Third, ACM is a wonderful place in which to network and meet people in the music industry. I highly recommend doing so as it can lead to productive experiences for all involved further on in your journey.
Lastly, ACM’s curriculum is a particularly useful context for discovering your own voice as an artist. By absorbing what you learn at ACM and expressing yourself in the ways that feel uniquely right to you, as well as creating a successful career in music you may even become an influential innovator in this field. To me, that’s worth exploring.
ACM would like to thank Drum Alumni Windsor McGilvray for taking the time to update us on his recent projects and we wish him well for his forthcoming work commitments.