VIDEO: Trent Vale pianist finds the key to a musical career
TEENAGE piano maestro Oliver Walton has beaten thousands to secure a place on a prestigious and highly competitive university course.
The talented 17-year-old, who has already achieved Grade 8 on the keyboards, has dreamed of becoming a professional musician for as long as he can remember.
Now Oliver will pursue his ambition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester by studying Popular Music Performance.
The course provides training for exemplary instrumentalists and singers who intend to work as freelance session musicians in the pop music industry.
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Oliver, a St Joseph's College student from Trent Vale, said: "I still can't believe I'm in. To be accepted feels absolutely amazing.
"I have been really lucky to have an amazing Performing Arts teacher, Craig Gilligan. He's been such a big inspiration.
Oliver, of Harpfield Road, Trent Vale, first had to take part in a thorough audition process, performing his own arrangement of a piece of music, followed by a set piece and a written theory test.
He said: "It was really scary and done in knock-out stages, so there was a lot of anxious waiting around to see if I had progressed."
But after three days of waiting Oliver was relieved to discover he had been accepted – to become one of the students on the three-year-course.
He is now looking forward to starting his career as a session musician.
"I want to do sessions because I would get to play for lots of different musicians and styles of music and I love just about every music genre," he said.
Previous students have gone on to play for the likes of Noel Gallagher and Jessie J, and Oliver was one of only three selected from thousands of applicants.
He added: "It's exciting. If I had to choose just one artist I'd probably want to play for Bruno Mars because the band always look like they're having fun and I like to entertain when I play." Oliver's mum, Dawn Walton, aged 44, said: "He's done fantastically.
"It's an incredibly competitive course and he's worked so hard for it. He really deserves his place."
Dawn, who works in sales, said Oliver has juggled his musical studies with school work, as well as fundraising for a trip to teach music in Sierra Leone.
She added: "He's done brilliantly. I'm so proud of him."
Next month's trip will see 12 students from St Joseph's teach primary school children in Sierra Leone for two weeks.
Oliver has doubled the £1,500 required for the trip so he can take musical instruments to donate to his school.
He said: "I wanted to give the children something to keep. Hopefully they will continue to play them when I leave."