The high school’s Rock Band, founded four years ago by Wellesley parents hoping to pass down their love of music to students, now flourishes as a student-led band of 18 musicians. Led by Sophie Coté ’24 and Mason Kahn ’24, the band exists not only as a means of expression through a variety of genres, but also as a safe space for collaboration and bonding. These students work passionately to share their love of music with others, composing and organizing two performances in the high school’s Little Theater and surrounding towns throughout the year.
This year, the band’s success and popularity can be most attributed to the new leadership of Coté and Kahn, who curated a constructive and supportive atmosphere to share their love of music with audiences. They took the initiative to elevate their club to a renowned group performing for the high school and beyond. Coté, wanting to build the band into something more than an unknown club, was inspired to become a leader with Kahn and immediately got to work.
“At the time, there wasn’t a lot of organization in place, and I thought it could be better,” said Coté. “I saw opportunities to become bigger than what we were, and I loved the prospect of it.”
The band experienced a significant breakthrough after being scouted by the Amazing Things Art Center (ATAC) in Framingham. They now eagerly anticipate performing there on March 25 and the outside exposure that the opportunity presents.
At the end of April, the band plans to perform for the Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF) with an audience of over 250 people. They picked up unprecedented traction this year after receiving a multitude of interest from performing arts centers to local organizations. They are becoming so popular that they are on the eve of having to turn down gigs.
“A lot of people are surprised with our success and talent, because they don’t expect a student-run band to do so well,” said Kahn.
Under Coté and Kahn’s leadership, the band has not only increased their visibility and support, but also has developed an open forum to foster communication and self-confidence.
“[Being student-led] is so freeing. Our first year , we were run by an adult, and it felt harder to speak freely or ask questions,” said member Kathryn Fischmann ’23. “Now it’s easier to get points across and understand things on the same level as others.”
To draft such an impressive and dedicated group of musicians, Coté and Kahn test for several attributes during auditions: one’s preparation, attitude, and potential talent. The most important one, however, is the passion that compels a student to audition. These standards are what led the club to where they are today, and remain active as they continue to grow their membership.
“Shaping the image of the band is the biggest change we’ve gone through in the past four years,” said Fischmann. “Who we are, and what we do, continues to grow.”
The way in which the leaders and members speak of the band is indicative of their enthusiasm for both music as well as the friendships made during collaboration among members.
“I simply adore everyone in the band,” said Coté. “Everyone is devoted to helping one another learn.”
To reach the current level of connection, the leaders integrated more ‘Rock Band hang-outs’ to initiate excitement and motivation. Together, they watch movies, play games, and hold friendly cooking competitions.
“[These plans] elevate the social dynamic, so we’re closer to a friend group performing music together rather than a strictly music-based group who come together for rehearsals and then go their separate ways,” said Kahn.
Any type of performing arts, more than anything, brings students from various grades, social groups, and personalities together.
“[In the band], one way or another, you’re going to be talking to someone that you might not normally interact with,” said Coté.
As they’ve grown the club to its impressive status today, Coté and Kahn work tirelessly to refrain from monopolizing their leadership roles. They work to foster initiative and leadership across the entirety of the band. Everyone has the opportunity to try new ideas and contribute to decisions and the creation of their setlists.
“We strive to cater to the skills of the members we have,” said Coté. “If they believe they can successfully do something different, we always let them try it out.”