Devin Paynter is looking forward to his first summer competing as a professional drummer after a very successful run in Grade 1 solo competitions this past summer.
In the past year, the snare drummer from Summerside, PEI has won the North American Championships with first place in both the Grade 1 MSR and Senior/Amateur Hornpipe Jig competitions, travelled to Scotland to compete in the World Solo Drumming Championships and took home several other first place awards as well. He is spending this winter on Prince Edward Island preparing for another summer of competitions.
Six years ago, Devin started his time at the College of Piping as a bass drummer in the organization’s Grade 5 band. He was already a drummer at that point, but took an interest in pipe band drumming after seeing the College of Piping bands marching in a parade. He eventually picked up snare drumming and quickly progressed to the organization’s Grade 2 band under the instruction of Chris Coleman and Sam Ramsay.
He says the community at the College of Piping is what keeps him coming back each year.
“It’s the people, honestly” he said. “Everyone is so supportive.”
One of the highlights of Devin’s drumming career so far happened this past October when he earned an invitation to compete at the World Solo Drumming Competition in Scotland.
“It was unbelievable,” he said of the experience.
One of his favourite moments of the trip was watching some of his drumming idols compete.
“You see them play in videos all the time, but it’s nothing like the real thing. Being in the same room as them and hearing them play - that was amazing,” he said. “It’s one of those moments where you look back on it and think, ‘that really happened.’”
Devin plans to return to Scotland for the Worlds again this year and is preparing busy preparing for it. He added that while he was in Scotland, he received messages of support and encouragement from his College of Piping family and fellow competitors back home.
Devin says the drummers he competes against in solo competitions throughout Atlantic Canada are a supportive group that encourages one another.
“It’s a very friendly group,” he said. “We have fun with it and we watch each other play. They were messaging me while I was in Scotland to see how it went.”
Solo drumming has offered Devin incredible opportunities and he encourages other drummers to also think about signing up solo competitions. He was encouraged to start competing in solos by his instructor Chris Coleman, and says he stuck with it because of the value of getting feedback from various judges.
“You get very constructive criticism and it really makes you think in different ways,” he said. “It presents new ways of looking at things."
Devin’s advice for drummers who are thinking about entering the solo competition scene is to take it as an opportunity to improve.
“It’s about being open minded to what people have to say. To progress and get better, I had to be open to what people had to say about my drumming,” he said. “The main thing though, is to have fun with it.”