By Nathan Tesler
Since early elementary school, I have been involved with the South Shore Conservatory piano and JRP departments. From personal experience, I know that many music students, especially piano students, often are isolated with their playing, with little opportunities to play with others. Playing with other musicians is instrumental to any musician’s growth. As a piano student at South Shore Conservatory (SSC), I luckily had the opportunity to participate in several groups and events that allowed me to play with others. One of these events was Middle School Monster Jam. For music students with little experience playing with others, this is one of the best events you can participate in, and also a whole lot of fun.
At Monster Jam, a large group of middle school student musicians, who have never played together before, comes together to learn a popular song (for example “Let it Be” by The Beatles or “Ride” by Twenty Øne Piløts) in one night, then performs it for an audience at the end of the night. When you arrive at Monster Jam, the air is filled with creativity and possibility. Students are quickly separated into groups, based on their instrument, in which they are coached to play the music they perform later that night. Some of us already know the song, others have just scanned the music before arriving, and some are hearing the song for the first time. After we learn the parts in groups, we all join together to practice the song right before we do a performance. It is amazing how quickly we go from being strangers, or maybe just knowing one another a little, to collaborating so well on stage. In other words, music really brings people together.
After scrambling to get the song good enough to perform, we watch our parents start to shuffle back in to the performance hall to watch the final performance. Through the intro of the song we are all nervous, but once the singers jump in with the chorus, we begin to feel more comfortable. We loosen up our playing and start to improvise. The performance always ends up sounding great, and we are sad for it to end. After saying goodbye to the new musicians we’ve met, we head home and put the next Monster Jam on our calendars.
I personally enjoy Monster Jam so much because it is an easy and low key opportunity to play with other musicians. It also helps me in acquiring skills you can only get from playing in groups, including playing from chord charts, playing in rock and pop contexts, and onstage communication. After a taste of playing with others, I was eager to seek new playing opportunities with groups. I now play in a band at South Shore Conservatory called Low Tide. In addition, the last two summers I participated in Summer Music Festival on clarinet and piano in Summer Wind Ensemble and Lab Jazz ensemble, respectively. I now also participate in a jazz ensemble at New England Conservatory. Perhaps best of all, I often get together with friends to just jam.
Middle School Monster Jam is one of the best South Shore Conservatory events for middle school students. You are not taking full advantage of the Conservatory if you don’t go to this event. Monster Jam is a great time, and a great place to get started down the path of playing popular music and playing in groups. I hope to see you there!
SSC’s next Middle School Monster Jam is Friday, January 11, from 7-9 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. The song the group will be playing is “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. You don’t need to be an SSC student to participate. Pre-registration is required. More at https://sscmusic.org/monster-jam/.
Nathan Tesler is an eighth grader at Hingham Middle School. He is a member of Low Tide, a rock band coached through South Shore Conservatory. You can find them online at @the_low_tide_band_official (Instagram) and Low Tide Band (You Tube).