The following article is part of our Student Spotlight series, which highlights the stories and experiences of Real School students and their families.
Maddy: Today I'm really excited to introduce not one, not two, but THREE Real School musicians from the same awesome family. So we have Tommy, Juliet and Jock. Thank you for being here you guys!
So this is the first time we've interviewed a group of siblings it's very cool, so why don't we start off by you guys introducing yourselves and then telling us what instruments you play and how long you've been coming to Real School.
Tommy: My name is Tommy, I play bass primarily and drums. My instructor is Ed Spargo and I've been coming here for six years.
Juliet: I'm Juliet I've also been coming here for six years. I sing and I also do a little bit of piano (but not super well) and I take lessons with Nicole Berke.
Jock: And I'm Jock I've also been coming here for six years. I play the drums and take lessons with John Muzzy.
Maddy: Why did you guys start coming Real School and what is your favorite part about it?
Tommy: When I first came to Real School I remember my trial lesson with Theo Griffin on bass. I was switching from guitar because I felt like I really wasn't progressing at all... I knew how to play power chords, that was about it. And it was kind of a night and day difference in the kind of learning and my journey as a musician.
Being actually educated in music theory and just becoming all around a better musician. I think the instructors have been my favorite part of the Real School I've just met some really, really talented people that have educated me a lot throughout my musical journey. I think that's the Real School has really helped me to develop my skills as a musician in so many different places.
Jock: It's like Tommy where during my trial lesson it was just immediately, I felt a click between me and my instructor. It felt more natural. In that one lesson I had already learned like more than I had at the other school. It was just a great environment and great people.
Maddy: So what kind of music do you guys like? What are your favorite bands? Favorite artist?
Juliet: I've been doing a lot of musical theater recently and exploring a lot into that kind of genre and performance, but I would say that my roots and my greatest passion is classic rock. And then I also really love pop music, so I'd say my top three artists are Ariana Grande, Led Zeppelin, and The Police.
Maddy: That's quite an array!
Tommy: For me this year I've gotten really heavily into jazz, playing in the school's jazz ensemble and just having a lot of opportunities. It's what I listen to and play primarily right now. I would say, for artists that have inspired me, meeting and listening to Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. That was really inspiring and eye-opening his musician.
Maddy: Do you guys do anything outside of music do you do sports, clubs?
Tommy: I pretty much only do music. I don't really do anything outside of that, but I do so much of that that it takes up all my time.
Maddy: Nothing wrong with that.
Tommy: I'll probably trying to get a job or something next year... I started driving... but I mean, music is just such a cornerstone of my life at this point that it's and everything I do so.
Juliet: I do a lot of things, music and not music related. But the biggest thing for me right now is probably theater. A lot of which is tied into music and that's something that I am super passionate about. I think that's what I want to pursue in my life with music. I like tying music into kind of everything that I do.
Jock: I sometimes do a little art, I guess?
Juliet: He's good at it.
Maddy: So how has playing music made a positive impact on your lives?
Tommy: For me it's it's kind of a hard question to answer just because music is such an important of every facet of my life. It's almost impossible to say all the ways that it's it's changed my life because it's so, so important. To say it's made a positive impact is definitely an understatement, because it's kind of everything to me at this point. But it's definitely been a way for me to output my creative energy and improve myself as a person in many ways other than just playing. Just knowing and being more educated and making better choices in other ways other than just music.
Juliet: I think that music is giving me a really strong sense of identity. As an artist and as a performer and even as a listener and a consumer of music, it's just something that's tied really closely to who I feel like I am and what I do. And I think it's also helped me develop empathy skills, like communication, listening to other people, and understanding feelings that you've never felt before because you hear them and feel them through music.
Maddy: So this question is for you, Juliet congratulations on graduating high school and do you want to tell us a little bit about what your plans are after this year?
Juliet: I'm going to Berklee College of Music in the fall which I'm really excited about and actually that's kind of the extent of my plans (laughs). Voice is my primary instrument. Obviously, I still want to be really in touch with theater and I want to be able to be studying that kind of thing while I'm there. But hopefully, I just want leave being a much more well-rounded and educated musician and then hopefully find my place in the world.
Maddy: What advice would you guys give to aspiring musicians who maybe want to develop their skills a little bit more?
Jock: I think just surrounding yourself with music, musicians, just being in the environment that just encompasses music.
Juliet: I think, as a musician, there's kind of this sense that you will never be the best that you can be that you're always growing and you're always learning and I've had so many moments where I've come away from something I've been like I'm not good at this or like I'm not as good at this as someone else. I keep going at it and then as I look back, I realize that I'm a lot better than I think I am.
So if you really commit to music, especially not even just particularly but like especially in those moments of self-doubt and the moments where you feel like you're not good enough and you just keep going. Because you know that keeping going is what makes you a better musician. Having faith and trusting the process is really important.
Maddy: How often you practice?
Tommy: I practice everyday at least an hour usually longer. I definitely think the most important thing to improving yourself as a musician is practice/ A lot of people will talk about natural talent and natural ability, but at the end of the day, what makes the difference between a good musician and a bad musician is how much work you're willing to put in. And how much effort and care you actually put into the music you love.
Maddy: So is there anyone in your lives who has supported you and inspired you to be the musicians that you are today?
Jock: Definitely my mom she's like she's everything... it's kinda scary actually... and also 100% my dad. He's amazing, he's always working to support us and everything and they're really supportive parents. Couldn't do it without them.
Juliet: I think the one thing that my dad has shown me more than anyone else is that there is no requirement in order to enjoy good music. You don't need to know anything in order to be a music lover. Because my favorite person to talk about music with is my dad, by far, and we look at the same songs and we both come away being like, 'this is one of the greatest songs I've ever heard!' I can look at it from like the composition standpoint. I can see all the music theory, all the modulations and stuff that means nothing to my dad. He's not a very musical person at all, but he is a musical person in the sense that he loves music and he loves listening to it and he can tell what good music is as well as anyone else can. That's something that is so valuable that I've learned from him.
Tommy: I would absolutely say my parents too. Throughout my whole life, they've just supported my music so, so much. It can't be understated just how much love and support they've given me in order to become the musician I am today. Considering that neither of them are musicians, the fact that they supported us so much at a young age into taking music really seriously, going into it for our future, really their love and support knows no bounds and and I really appreciate that.
Maddy: So far in your musical career, what is the most memorable experience you guys have had?
Tommy: My school, Newton South High School (Newton, MA), was lucky enough to be one of the 15 schools in North America to be accepted into the Jazz at Lincoln Center, Essentially Ellington high school jazz competition. That's been the most eye-opening experience as a musician in my whole life. Being able to go there and just soak in all these incredible, incredible musicians from all over the country and perform in such a huge venue. I got to talk to Wynton Marsalis and all these incredible musicians from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and I learned so much and experienced so much as a musician that I've never had before.
Juliet: I speak for Jock and I when I comment on our magnum opus. 'Eddie the Delivery Guy' recorded here at The Real School of Music (laughing). Tommy may have played Lincoln Center, but we played The Real Room!
Maddy: That's the room we're in now! That's this stage right here that is a great song, great song music video.
Thank you guys so much for letting me interview you today and sharing your stories is was really cool really eye-opening for me too. It's awesome to see how you guys have grown into thee really fantastic musicians and thank so much for tuning in today!
Stay tuned for more future awesome Real School interviews of our awesome students!
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- Student Spotlight Series: Pianist and Drummer Ethan Gagnon
- Student Spotlight Series: Voice Student Emily Campagna
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