The father of a 12-year-old boy who has achieved a grade 8 distinction in guitar says he was “overwhelmed” and “beaming” when the results came through.

Jenson Bullen, from Great Harwood, started lessons with McNally Music Tuition in Blackburn in 2020 having become interested in music in primary school.

His teacher, Greg Harper, quickly noticed Jenson’s talent and said with some hard work he thought he could make grade 8, the top mark possible for musicians.

Lancashire Telegraph: Jenson Bullen (right) with his guitar teacher Greg HarperJenson Bullen (right) with his guitar teacher Greg Harper (Image: Adam Bullen)

Jenson, a pupil at Hyndburn Academy, sat the exam with the Trinity College of Music in London at the end of his school summer holidays, and his parents both felt that if he could even get a pass it would be a huge achievement.

When they received the result last week (Wednesday, September 6), they were stunned to discover Jenson had achieved a distinction, the top grade, only missing out on a handful of marks across the three pieces he had to play.

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Adam Bullen, Jenson’s dad, who has previously played in bands himself, said: "[I was] overwhelmed. I think it’s because we know it’s his dream.

"He wasn’t expecting it, he was nervous. He kept saying to us ‘I can’t do any better’.

Lancashire Telegraph: Jenson's certificate for achieving grade 8 guitarJenson's certificate for achieving grade 8 guitar (Image: Adam Bullen)


“He had a few takes and he wasn’t happy but he said I really don’t think I can do any better. Proud is an understatement really, I was beaming.”

Jenson’s dream is to become a musician and having reached the highest grade possible at such a young age, some pressure is relieved.

Adam said: “He knows what he wants to do. Obviously big rockstar is the dream, but they’re like Premier League footballers, only one per cent get to do it. But you never know.

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“He definitely wants a career in music one way or another, whether he becomes a session musician, or working with recording studios, or whether he goes on to teach.

“We said if Greg thinks you’re capable of doing it now, do it now. You’ll then have no pressure when you come to do your exams because you’ve already got it.

Lancashire Telegraph: Jenson reached the highest grade possible at just 12-years-oldJenson reached the highest grade possible at just 12-years-old (Image: McNally Music Tuition)

“He doesn’t need to sit GCSE music now because he’s already passed above that. He’s already got it in effect.

“Distinction, grade 8, at 12 years old – it’s unheard of really.”

Jenson is also part of a band called Sudell Cross, a teenage alt rock/indie band who have played locally at Darwen Live, King George’s Hall, and Sunbird Records over the summer.

Their first single ‘Boxed In’ was released in June and a second single is set to be released in the near future.