By Ryan Delano and Olivia Barbuto
Six years ago, South Shore Conservatory’s piano and voice departments, in hopes of giving students from each their departments a musically collaborative experience, presented a performance that teamed up pianists with voice students. The performance, aptly named With a Little Help from My Friends, was wildly successful, and has grown in popularity each year since. Students work together to learn their collaborative pieces for a few months before making beautiful music together it in front of an audience. Pianist Ryan and vocalist Olivia talk about the experience performing in this annual concert.
Ryan: At first, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. When my piano teacher, Mark Goodman, suggested that I perform at the With a Little Help from My Friends concert, I was a little apprehensive. My record with accompaniment at that point consisted of being asked to accompany my middle school chorus, never getting contacted to rehearse, and ultimately being told the day of the concert that I wouldn’t be performing.
However, after four years participating in With a Little Help from My Friends concerts, I proudly consider accompaniment as one of my greatest skills on piano. With piano being such a solitary instrument normally, it takes an entirely different set of tools to work with a vocalist. Rather than listen to yourself, you have to focus in on the tiniest of breaths from the singers. Rather than making your own decisions about changing tempo or dynamics, you have to do your best to seamlessly react to the singer. The lessons I learned from With a Little Help from My Friends gave me everything I needed to accompany my high chorus during a recent masterclass at Symphony Hall. The concert and the lessons leading up to it don’t only provide a moving musical experience, they also highlight the supportive community that South Shore Conservatory has built. There are older pianists performing with young singers and vice versa. There are all types of voices, styles, and songs. Everybody has a good time enjoying the music, culminating in a rousing sing-along rendition of the concert’s namesake by The Beatles. I’ll definitely miss it when I’m off to college next year!
Olivia: I have participating in South Shore Conservatory (SSC) programs since I was five years old. The programs and the organization give me such a thrill, and help me to improve my technique and abilities. There is one program I have done for many years, and have continued participating in because of its differentiability and amazing opportunity. It’s the With A Little Help from My Friends event. This SSC program uses singing students, and piano students to prepare a piece and perform in a concert. The students working together to make a piece their own is something I have cherished for a long time. It gives both students a sense of independence and leadership in only one piece of music. This year will be my fourth year participating, and I am so thrilled to get to do it again. Meeting new musicians and sharing our love for music is something I look forward to every year.
South Shore Conservatory’s With a Little Help from My Friends takes place Friday, February 1, 7 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. Admission to the concert is free. For more information about SSC programs, visit sscmusic.org, call 781-749-7565, x10, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.
Ryan Delano resides in Weymouth and is a senior at Weymouth High School.
Olivia Barbuto resides in Hingham and is a junior at Hingham High School.