Mohonasen music students had the opportunity to meet with professionals and mentors from the music industry at the annual Tri-M Workshop Day on Wednesday, March 8. With a focus on careers in the field of music, students attended to gain insights from professionals with experience in conducting, music education, musical theater, composition for the gaming industry and music performance.
Presenters included David Bebe (assistant professor of music at the College of Saint Rose, director of the Saint Rose Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, string program coordinator, violoncello instructor), Karen Amedio (39-year music education teaching veteran, most recently from the North Colonie School District, and frequent guest conductor for all-county and community choirs), Justin Friello (singer, actor, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Schenectady who has performed across New York State and beyond), Amanda Laven (2009 Mohonasen alumna and current composer-in-residence for the Mohonasen High School Orchestra, focused on music scoring for media and building her career in writing music for video games, films, advertisements and television) and the Stockade Kids (a rock/hip-hop band from Schenectady).
The students spent a full day attending presenter workshops where they were able to discover the firsthand experiences of professionals from various facets of the industry and begin planning for their own potential future careers in the field.
Following the workshops, the students were treated to a performance at the black box theater at the Center for Advanced Technology by the Stockade Kids — and even a few student guest performers on the bass and conga drums for some of the numbers the group performed. Three members of the six-piece fused-genre band were on hand – Justin Friello (guitars, vocals), Scottie Monaco (rap vocals) and Josh Mlodzianowski (saxophone, vocals) – and the performers lined up a robust variety of musical genres for the students to enjoy. They discussed their extensive musical influences, calling special attention to artists like Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and the Dave Matthews Band, while cautioning students against “pigeonholing themselves” into one specific musical genre while trying to expand their talents and refine their musical skills.
“Listen to everything, and don’t try to make yourself sound like just one thing,” Josh Mlodzianowski emphasized.
The performers shared their experiences in the music industry and took questions from student audience members throughout the afternoon.
“You need to work hard for what you want to do,” Scottie Monaco encouraged the students. “If you have something in mind for your future, you need to go after it – it’s not just going to be handed to you.”
Student participation was an important facet of this daylong event until the very end – when Justin Friello stepped in to perform one final tune with all of the students in the audience, providing guitar instrumentation to vocals provided by the students for the song “Age of Aquarius.”