Berklee Summer Programs alum and 16-year-old Junior in high school, Stephen Coleman, sat down and talked to us about his time at Berklee over the last three summers.
The Berklee summer programs are what I live for each summer. It really is the greatest place on earth if you love music!
I am a 16 year junior in high school and I have attended Berklee summer programs for the last three summers and I plan on attending again this summer. I have made so many wonderful friends from all over the world coming to Berklee. One of the most important things I have discovered at Berklee is that there is so much extraordinary talent and there is so much to learn. I live outside of Boston in a town called Wellesley approximately 20 minutes away, and was able to commute to Berklee for the duration of the program every day. I consider myself a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. I will be applying to Berklee for college next year. Wish me luck!
Stage Performance Workshop
The first summer program I attended was the Stage Performance Workshop, and it was the best three days of my life! Initially, I heard about the Berklee Summer Programs from the non-profit band program called “Plugged In” which I have been involved in for the last six years. All of the teachers in that program are Berklee faculty members. Berklee faculty/alumni also make up the rehearsal bands that we played with, and also accompanied us in the final performance. At the Stage Performance Workshop, I took classes with the truly amazing Livingston Taylor. I learned so much from him – how to be a better musician, how to be a better performer and perhaps most importantly, he taught me how to develop character in my persona. He is really an extraordinary teacher and person. I was also able to perform at The Red Room at Cafe 939 during an “open mic” night. Cafe 939 is a Berklee venue that has great sound! I enjoyed every minute of the experience.
Five-Week Summer Performance Program
My band, Awesome Express, entered the TCAN/Berklee Battle of the Bands during the spring of 2010. Our band worked really hard with practices three times a week for months. We made the finals and I was selected to win a scholarship to the Five-Week Summer Performance Program for outstanding musicianship in guitar. The drummer of my band, William Maranci, was also selected for a scholarship and we were able to commute to Berklee together everyday. It was really a dream come true. My favorite courses were with Craig Hlady (Guitar Private Lessons), Sal Difusco (Musicianship) and Sherry Young (Musical Theater). I learned so much from not only the teachers, but from the other students, many of whom now attend Berklee. One of the most enjoyable classes I had was Musicianship with Sal Difusco. Not only was he an awesome teacher, but the students in the class were so talented and inspiring. With the musical theater class, I had a vocal solo and we were able to perform at one of the final concerts at the BPC (Berklee Performance Center, Berklee’s biggest venue). It was an amazing experience.
In 2011, I won another scholarship to the Five-Week Program but this time I won it with my other band, Switcheroo (this time I won for outstanding musicianship with vocals at the 2011 TCAN/Berklee Rock Showdown). I made the Tower of Power ensemble with Bobby Gallegos (better known as “Bobby G.”) and this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. “Bobby G.” was an extraordinary teacher and a really cool guy. That ensemble had a full brass section and included the most extraordinary musicians I’ve ever played with. Many of them became some of my great friends. I learned so much and had such a wonderful time. I also had the amazing opportunity to work with Melissa Ferrick on songwriting and Darcel Wilson for Theory and Vocals. What a summer!
I would recommend taking summer courses at Berklee if you are interested in being immersed in music, working hard, having fun and meeting the greatest friends from all over the world. It will be the best summer of your life.