Belmont student bands open up about balancing musical projects, schoolwork

Belmont boasts a top-notch music program–maybe you have seen the billboard that says, “Our grads are on your playlist.” People come from all over, many with the hopes of one day making it big. But what happens when you start to make it big during school? This is a question that Belmont bands Mocha and The Hart Strings have had to grapple with.

The members of Mocha all are full-time students and are currently playing two to four gigs per month.

“We’re not to the point where we are seeking out tour dates that would conflict with school. If anything we will seek out things like on weekends, or on breaks,” drummer Ray Standiford said.

Singer Sakari Greenwell said they are all planning on sticking around and using these two years to gain experience and grow their fan base.

“It really takes so much behind the scenes, just like little gigs here and there, really building up your momentum, to get to a place of touring,” Greenwell said.

However, it gets hard to balance being a music student, working and being in a band. As a student in the school of music, guitarist Alex Kaptain said not only is he taking 12 classes, but he is also required to be in an ensemble.

“You’re playing with other good people and you’re growing as a musician but it’s also an academic obligation. That can be hard to balance as well because at times, it’s like another job,” Kaptain said.

They all basically have three jobs: being a student, being a musician and having an actual job and everyday it comes down to priorities, Greenwell said.

But Greenwell, Kaptain and Standiford all agreed that music was their top priority.

“I would always practice before I do homework. I make sure I practice every day over getting an assignment done, because ultimately that’s what I am here for, to hone my craft and my instrument,” Standiford said.

Greenwell said it has been getting harder to juggle. She said that sometimes the gap between school and music feels like it is getting wider.

“Sometimes I don’t care about school. I just want to do this. But I know that some of the things I am learning in school will definitely help me in 10 years,” she said.

So even though it’s difficult, they are confident in their decision to keep school as a priority.

“We all know where we want to be right now. We want to be working personally for three more semesters on our own craft. We want to stick out school, but we want to stay open to any possibility even if it might conflict with school,” Standiford said.

Ted Hart and other members from The Hart Strings, on the other hand, have decided to cut down on the hours they are taking this semester to pursue their music.

“Ideally after we graduate we would do it full time anyways, and we didn’t want to wait two years to really go after that,” Hart said.

Hart is taking nine hours this semester and the band plays about three shows a week. The band travels a bit going to Louisville and the Carolinas frequently, but they try to stay in a six-hour radius of Nashville.

“We were originally planning on taking a semester off to tour full time, but we figured if we were touring Thursday through Sunday we could take the other days to work,” he said.

Hart said if he takes the right classes and really keeps up with them, he will be able to graduate on time. He feels the band made the right decision.

“Cutting down classes helps with one, overall happiness, and then building the band,” Hart said.

The article was written by Ashley Sanders.

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