Most teenagers will go to school where they perhaps have the odd boyfriend or girlfriend drama, some may have hobbies outside of school, but usually that’s about it. But Joe Parks and Alex Ridout are anything but ordinary teenagers - they are talented musicians who have reached the finals of the BBC Young Musician 2016.

The pair, who received scholarships to attend the prestigious Purcell School in Bushey, are delighted to have reached this stage in what is a tough yet highly esteemed competition for classical musicians.

Joe, from Anerley in south east London, has reached the category final for percussion. The 16-year-old former Royal College of Music (RCM) student, says: “If I won the category final for percussion that would be absolutely insane. I have known two RCM students who entered the percussion category of the competition before and got through, so it would be fantastic to join them and that would be almost enough. Obviously if I did win, then I would work hard and practice to try and win the whole thing.”

If Joe, who loves drinking tea and playing chess, were to win the category finals, he would then progress to the semi-final stage of the competition.

“I had heard about the BBC Young Musician awards before,” explains the teenager who got into the RCM Junior department after a successful audition at age ten, “When I was at the RCM, the older percussion guys entered and some of them even won it, so it has always been something I wanted to do.”

Joe has been playing percussion since he was six years old and the bongos was his first instrument. “It all started with my mum,” he tells me, “she was a drama teacher and she was doing a play at her school, and was using Latin-American music as part of it – it was a Shakespeare play so I can’t imagine why they would use such music.

“She used to play the music in the car every day as she was driving me to school and I just started picking up the rhythms and would be drumming them on the tables. So then when I was eight, I started having lessons. Then seeing people play classical percussion made me want to audition for RCM and have been playing since then.”

Now the student, whose inspirations include composers Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass, claims he can play around 50 percussion instruments - give or take. He says: “It’s kind of hard to say how many instruments I play, because as a percussionist you are expected to play all of the orchestral percussion instruments.

“Marimba and tuned percussion I would probably say are my principle instruments. But I still really love doing hand Latin-American percussion like the cajon, which is like a box that you sit on and it has some snares in the back of it and you hit it. I would say that is probably my favourite instrument.”

Joe will be playing one piece on the marimba and another on a multi-percussion set up at the BBC Young Musician 2016 category finals, which take place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on March 6-10.

Former Royal Academy of Music student, Alex, who is from Aylesbury, has reached the finals of the BBC Young Musician Jazz Award. “The jazz award is quite new, this is only the second time it is being held,” explains the 17-year-old. “When it first came about, a lot of my friends were going for it and I didn’t think I would have a chance and as it was all kind of new I didn’t go for it.

“But then seeing the people that got through last year how well they had done I thought it actually is a really good thing to do. It’s good for publicity, it is good for your playing – just doing the semi-finals made me practice harder. So I guess I’m really lucky to have gotten this far.”

The jazz awards work differently to the classical awards Alex goes to explain. First there was a video round, from which they chose 25 people who made it through to the semi-finals and then from that, the judges picked five finalists.

Alex, who has been playing the trumpet since she was nine-years-old, says her parents have been helping her practice: “My whole family is very musical – my parents are both jazz musicians and music teachers. My dad is a guitarist and my mum saxophonist and I have just grown up with music really.”

Alex started at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department on the classical course when she was 14.

I did a year of the classical course and the year after I did a classical and a jazz course, which you’re not really supposed to do, but I did it and so did one other guy. This year I’m just doing the jazz course because of how the funding works.”

The teenager, who hopes to continue playing both classical and jazz music, wanted to enter the classical competition too, but missed the deadline. “There aren’t many people who do a lot of classical as well as jazz – they usually do one mostly and a bit of the other, so I would quite like to do both, but I don’t know of course what’s going to happen,” she says.

“There’s a lot of jazz trumpeters in London that I like - Freddie Gavita, Robert Fowler and they are doing their own projects now, which would be really cool to do. My biggest inspirations are Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hannock, the list endless. I’m doing one of Herbie’s tunes in the finals actually and I’m also doing a Stevie Wonder tune – a lot of Stevie’s writing is not strictly jazz but it is amazing.”

She will be competing against her older brother, a saxophonist for the title. She says: “I’m really not expecting to win, because there is only one other guy who is at school, everyone else is at music college. Obviously if I did win it would be amazing.”

The finals of the BBC Young Musician 2016 Jazz Awards will take place on Saturday, March 12 in the Dora Stoutzker Hall at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.