By Camille Eckert
One of Winsor’s many arts classes is Advanced Rock On, a semester course that develops the performance and technical education of Winsor’s musicians through work with show setup, wiring, and soundwaves, as well as all-school performances. This year, the members of Advanced Rock On are vocalists Aimy Huynh ’24 and Niko Matsuzaka ’24, backup vocalist and guitarist Pru Sullivan ’24, guitarist Mina Feldman ’25, bassist Beatrix Picotte ’24, keyboardist Sofie Robinson ’24, drummer Tayla Le ’24, and instructor Ms. Brady-Lopez. They named their band “Crash Course,” after a suggestion from English Faculty, Ms. Ryan, as it references both the sound of their instruments as well as the course in which they started.
On November 4, the band performed on their biggest stage yet at the National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) Convention, hosted at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland. Whenever there is a conference, NAfME invites groups from all over the country to submit audition tapes in order to perform. Ms. Brady-Lopez chose to send in the band’s spring concert from last May, as she felt “they were so good…other people had to see it.” The band was then chosen along with seven others and performed to a crowd of 1000 as an opening for keynote speaker Dr. Richard Antoine White, a motivational speaker, professor, and principal tubist. The band’s setlist included: “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five, “Hotel California” by the Eagles, “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, and “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. Huynh reflects that selecting classic rock songs was their way of “staying true to their roots, as the point of Lower School Rock On was to pick classic songs from each era.”
When asked what her favorite part of the trip was, Robinson remarked, “Going on the ferry to get to our hotel and decompressing because even though we endured some hardships like our flight being delayed, I was less stressed since I was surrounded by the group.” This bond between the members is a factor that Ms. Brady-Lopez believes partially contributes to their success, as well as the fact that “they are all excellent on their instruments.” When asked if she will try to get the Advanced Rock On class to perform in big venues again, Ms. Brady-Lopez gives a definite yes. She says, “I wish there was a national rock band competition. I would enter them and they would win.” Looking to the future, Sullivan remarks, “I’m really excited for the program to grow and for all of us to be able to develop our skills as musicians and pass on these lessons to future generations.”
On December 4, the band will be playing a gig at the Burren restaurant in Somerville, MA, where their setlist will consist of original songs. We encourage you to check them out!