Ola's story

Isreal Akindipe, also known as Ola, is a clarinettist from Lagos Nigeria, who is also a student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and a Trinity College London Scholarship recipient.

We spoke to Ola about his impressive achievements in music so far and how he came to study at Trinity Laban.

“I come from a culture where music and dance are very much a part of the society, but there are no musicians in my family.”

 “The first instrument I think I laid my hands on was a recorder that someone had abandoned. I started playing around with it and I sort of found my way with the melodies.”

At the age of 16, Ola inherited a mobile phone from a family member who passed away, and it opened up a whole new world.

“This was my first access to the Internet and then I realized I could go on YouTube and Google to learn how to play music and how to make music.”

 “Somehow, I stumbled on mymusictheory.com by Victoria Williams and I realized you could actually learn to notate music and I thought this is really cool.”

“I hope I can meet Victoria at some point in my life because her website had a great impact on my life!”

Over the next few years, Ola continued to absorb as much as he could from the materials he found online and made his first attempts at composition.

He decided he wanted to learn saxophone and approached Oluwasegun Adeleke, the music director of his local church to see if they could help. 

“They didn’t have a saxophone, but they did have a spare clarinet. I didn't know what the clarinet was, and when they showed me it, I thought that’s not fancy and golden like the sax! As it was all they had, I just picked it up anyway and I fell in love with it – that was a real turning point.”

As Ola’s awareness of musical theory grew, he felt confident enough to start teaching.

“This is how my love for teaching started. I bought my own first clarinet from the money I earned and my first black suit for performances.”

A few years later, supported by his church MFM Ministries, Ola took music exams which qualified him for MTN Foundation support from MUSON (the Musical Society of Nigeria). Over this period his playing was influenced by seasoned Nigerian musicians, such as Seun Onifade and Seun Busuyi. 

At MUSON, he attended a workshop in Lagos with Chi-chi Nwanoku, double-bassist and Founder of Chineke! After the workshop, Chi-chi introduced Ola to clarinettist Katherine Spencer, who went on to teach Ola online for the next two years. 

“Chi-chi putting me in touch with Katherine was perhaps the best thing that happened to me. She taught me online from the UK when I was in Lagos and the Internet was really bad - I don't know how she coped with it!”

“She was the one who said I should study in a Conservatoire - I didn't think I could I qualify for that, but she said why not try and see what happens?”

Encouraged by Katherine to audition, Ola went on to gain a place at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance on a full scholarship from Trinity College London.

“I feel very privileged and lucky to have been able to do this - where I come from, we don't get a lot of access even though there is a lot of talent.”

“I am so grateful to have been helped and I try to reveal this also in my art - I don't say it because I feel I have to say I say it; I actually genuinely feel very lucky.”

“I would just like to like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and who has been a part of this journey that has only just started!”

Ola talked to us about his experiences at Trinity Laban.

“I've always seen music as a language, a feeling, an emotion, or an expression of the human experience. Where I think Laban really changed the game for me was with technique, which I didn’t have much access to being self-taught.”

“The other highlight is just having fellow young musicians around you, who you create with, do chamber music, and write together.”

We asked Ola what his plans were for life after Trinity Laban. 

“I just want to be able to perform my music to people really, and I also have a really strong passion for teaching, because I didn't have access to it, and I got lucky later on to be able to learn a lot of things.”

“My band have been lucky enough to get a Trinity Laban Innovation award, and we’re using that to try to record an album. It’s exciting, but also such a learning process. The art of recording is very different from the art of performance.”

“I would just like to like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me and who has been a part of this journey that has only just started!”

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