This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults. Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Nathan Sears, a bassist from the camp.
Nathan is currently a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering at Union College.
Here are some of the questions we asked Nathan:
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are you up to?
I am just finishing up my sophomore year at Union. Aside from work, music definitely takes precedence in my day to day routine. Whether it’s a band here at school or back home I make sure to playing music every week, if not every day.
What instrument(s) do you play?
I play bass in most of the groups I’m in. Otherwise I play alto saxophone in most school-related groups, and have played tenor and soprano saxophone in the past. I also play guitar on the side.
What years did you attend Rock On?
I believe I attended Rock On starting the summer after sixth grade and continued attending until my senior year of high school.
What was your role(s) at Rock On?
I started off attending Rock On as a camper and after a few years of getting to know everyone really well and becoming fairly integrated with all the program had to offer, I had the valuable experience of becoming an intern.
Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?
Back home in the Berkshires, I am currently in a band, Petrichor. It is comprised of many musicians who also attended Rock On. We are excited that we just came out with our first album, which is the culmination of 4 years of work. Here at school, I play sax in the jazz band and pep band and bass in the gospel choir. I have also recently started playing bass in a newly formed band called 8th Wonder.
What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?
It’s hard to say what I enjoyed most at Rock On, however what I think sticks out the most were the concerts which the staff put on at the beginning of each day. I loved seeing the staff or guest artists showcase a style of music, while completely improvising. It was inspiring to see how much fun it looked like they were having while working so fluidly together, on top of the fact that the music always sounded great.
Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?
I certainly learned plenty from the instrument lessons and the band rehearsals. There was usually at least one thing each day: maybe it was breaking down a song into its elements and writing out the different parts for band practice, or it was suggestions I’d received about how to improvise over a certain song. Over the years the daily tricks and tips I learned from instructors and interns have greatly improved my playing.
What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?
I definitely had lots of valuable experience while at Rock On. In the daily instrument lessons, I was exposed to new music and learned from great mentors. During band rehearsals, I got to work with a new group of musicians, building a band from nothing and getting songs ready to perform in 4 days. Even just playing onstage in front of an audience was a great experience.
What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?
I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve received is to not limit yourself to a genre of music. Rather than saying I only play *insert genre*, say you’ll play any genre. I love playing across genres, and especially at Rock On which brings together such a diverse selection of music, you can gain valuable experience playing or even listening to music you’re not normally exposed to. This has led me to be able to join lots of different groups, like here at school, where I can usually pick up new music fairly quickly despite the genre. The other largest piece of advice stems from seeing how both the interns and instructors acted towards each other. Having played with lots of different bands, I have without a doubt had the most fun, and the groups excelled the most when all the musicians were mutually respectful. This is one thing I witnessed among faculty at Rock On. Never mind skill, if everyone in a group treated everyone else well, it created an atmosphere that was much nicer to work in. In one sentence, I would advise new students to “play across genres” while showing mutual respect to everyone they work with.
It was great catching up with Nathan! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!