North students discover music opportunities in the local community


Newton Porchfest

Crowds gather on front lawns to watch locals perform for Porchfest Saturday, June 4.

Noah Kesselman, Features editor

Walking from house to house at Porchfest last summer, music fans stopped to listen to local country enthusiasts, reminiscent ‘80s rockers, and the occasional cello player, but they may have also come across the familiar faces of North students taking a shot at playing their favorite tunes in a live music setting.

While many enjoy the extensive music curriculum at North, some musicians prefer the band experience outside of school. North is home to many student musicians with diverse musical backgrounds, and many players recognize the positive aspects of connecting with others from around the town.

“It’s pretty interesting getting to explore your own personal tastes that aren’t present or represented in school,” said sophomore Oscar Bohnenkamp, a singer and bass player. “In personal bands, it’s more about friendship and the different personalities of the people you know, rather than the class curriculum.”

Bohnenkamp played with his band, The O-Men, at Porchfest in late June among many other gigs. An outside-of-school band experience provides not only the freedom to choose where to play and who to play with, but also the opportunity to engage in new experiences, he said.

The O-Men have been working on original songs and hope to record them soon, Bohnenkamp added.

While North offers many concert opportunities each year, local bands find their own venues to be more unique and meaningful. Rather Be Fishing is another band formed by North students who have taken advantage of the performance opportunities outside of school.

“We have played at a lot of block parties and in-school performances. We also played at Union Street for the Teacher’s Association,” said junior Ally Ryan, a singer and keyboard player.

However, playing at Paddy’s Road Race was the highlight of Rather Be Fishing’s year. “We played right outside Depasquales for an hour straight, which was probably the most people we have ever played in front of,” she added.

Though Junior ZZ Sayeed and sophomore Ziv Dudnik are both members of North’s Jazz Ensemble, they have also given themselves the opportunity to experience the jazz realm outside of North, participating in a quartet that practices weekly at the Rivers School. This group allows them to play alongside other talented musicians throughout the greater Boston area.

“We get to pick our own tunes and play at our own pace,” said Dudnik. 

When bands pick the music they play, their experiences are more filled with passion and a desire to tackle challenging pieces, he added.

Whether it’s rock or jazz tunes, North students continue to discover new environments where they can gain new meaningful musical experiences in addition to their opportunities at North.