Emanuel J Burton: Organising Masterclasses

30th August 2018

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BIMM Manchester student Emanuel J Burton (left) is currently studying a BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Musicianship Drums. Aside from laying the foundations for a promising career in performance, the young undergraduate is also branching out into curation and events promotion. Most recently, he implemented a Masterclass with Kendrick Lamar’s live drummer Rico Nichols (right), along with private tuition sessions with Brian Frazier-Moore, who drums for Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. We caught up with Emanuel to discuss these two ventures, plus his plans for the future.   

You recently hosted a Masterclass event with Rico Nichols at the Wardrobe in Leeds. How did it go?

It was incredible. The Wardrobe was the perfect venue for this event. Rico is an incredibly talented guy and super genuine. He displayed great skills and opened up about some key tips and life experiences, which were inspiring. It was a decent turnout and everyone who came said they learned a lot, which is what matters the most to me!

Can you tell us how this event came into being?

To be honest, the whole motive behind it was to bring the drum community and creative community together. I know that it inspires me to see top level musicians displaying their talent up close and being able to ask them questions about their journey. Why not make this happen for everyone else to get inspired too? I follow Rico on Instagram, and I saw him promote a Masterclass he was doing in France. So, I thought, why not do it in Leeds while he’s here. I reached out and he said ‘Let’s figure it out’, so we did just that. We had less than a week to pull it together!

What were the most challenging aspects of putting the event together?

I had so many things to think about. From booking fees, gear hire and expenses, figuring out what window Rico had from arriving in Leeds and then having to leave for his headline slot at Leeds Festival, promotion, and more logistics. It was a lot to handle on my own. Thankfully, I had some great help from BIMM Staff, Andrew, Ellie, and Tre from The Wardrobe, and their wonderful staff, Connor Crossland who let us use his kit, Rob Evans for letting me use his cymbals. So many people believed in my vision and helped me bring it all together. So, what was initially hard became easier with lots of help. Organising an event without a team handling different jobs was very challenging, for sure. I was running around like a mad man sorting things out minutes before the show!

Do you see yourself venturing further into the promotions sector for more masterclass events in future? 

I do! I’m super passionate about this stuff. I want to be able to utilise my networking skills to bring people together and continue to create opportunities for people to be inspired and enhance their knowledge.

You also recently handled bookings for private tuition sessions with Justin Timberlake’s drummer Brian Frasier-Moore. What was the extent of your working relationship with him and how did this opportunity first come about?

Yeah, this was great. I can’t express how nice of a guy Brian is! Every BIMM campus needs to book him for a Masterclass, 200%! Similar to the Rico situation, I saw that Brian had been doing private lessons and band jams on his days off from the Justin Timberlake Tour. So, I reached out and asked him if he wanted to do a jam session or private lessons, and logistically it made more sense to go for the lessons. We made sure we had great correspondence to figure out everything he’d need to carry out lessons, and also ensured all the bookings were confirmed – so we were fully aware of how much time was needed to get the lessons prepared. Throughout the day, I stuck around and met all the guys and made sure everything was running smoothly for Brian and the guys taking lessons.

Did you find yourself employing any particular skills you’ve learned from your course in the implementation of these events?

My tutors have stressed the importance of being a nice guy and being able to do more things than just drum. Often, it’s not the skill that gets you places, it’s the networking, it’s the intangibles and being a nice person to be around. I implemented that same mindset when setting up these events. These musicians are just like me but on a different journey. If we can collide during our journey to help make a positive impact for the culture, then that’s what I’m all about.

In an ideal world, where do you see yourself as a drummer once you’ve graduated?

I see myself touring, writing albums, making music for TV, Films, Video games, connecting with my favourite musicians, creating music and continuing to do events for the creative culture and community. I also want to get into music therapy! Away from music, I do creative directing and a little bit of model scouting, so I see myself in the media and fashion industry too! Whatever I do, if I can help people along the way and be a positive impact in any way, I will do just that!



James Watts

Social Media Assistant, Professional Bassist and Music Journalist. Career highlights include performing at some of the UK's premier music festivals, recording in Abbey Road and interviewing Debbie Harry.