Below is a modified version of a feature article that I wrote solo and was thankful to have published in the local paper a month ago today. It was one of the stories in the 25th-anniversary edition of “ The Salute to Fine Arts “ six-page spread in that same local newspaper.
CHS senior and budding jazz virtuoso D’Amico can still recall with clarity the exact moment that he fell in love with the guitar.
“Bon Jovi’s guitarist [Richie Sambora] was taking a solo and I saw it on the plasma screen TV that my Dad bought and I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” recalled D’Amico, who was just 5 and a half years old at the time.
Not long after, D’Amico started taking guitar lessons Daddy’s Junky Music, a chain of music stores that recently closed.
By the time he was 13, he had to go to a different instructor in Hyde Park because he learned everything he could from the instructor at Daddy’s.
Among the pieces that D’Amico learned to play was that same Bon Jovi guitar solo.
“To this day, I still know that solo”, he said.
Now 18 years old, D’Amico has advanced to the point that he is teaching private guitar lessons at CHS and attending the highest level classes at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School – a Saturday certificate program for young musicians looking to take their talents to the next level.
When he was 17 he was asked to play guitar for the NEC’s continuing education program, and he soon received a full scholarship to the program before he was legally an adult.
In addition to jamming with adults at NEC, D’Amico had also been a part of more than a dozen different band, ranging from the first band he played in with his cousin when he was 10 years old to playing with people that do not even speak English.
“Music is such a universal language,” D’Amico said.
“I could play with people and connect with them emotionally and as individuals”.
He has also been fortunate to learn from some of the area’s finest musicians, including his band director and mentor for the past four years, Mr. Thomas.
A professional jazz trombonist, Thomas had nothing but praise for his young protègè, noting that D’Amico has been an “integral part” of the performing arts program during his time at CHS.
“He’s a musical leader for sure, and he’s been a good example, especially in the jazz ensemble … as far as improvising and his practice routines and his schedule, so he’s contributed in a lot of ways,” said Thomas.
“But I would say the primary way he’s contributed is just [by being] a really strong musician”.
In addition to playing saxophone in the CHS band, D’Amico has played guitar in the jazz band as well as in the Pit Band for all the CHS drama productions. He has also been the Massachusetts Music Educators Association’s top-ranked guitarist in the Southeastern District every year since the eighth grade and was second in the entire state this past year.
“ His level of musicianship is truly exceptional,” said Mrs. Pappas, K-12 performing arts coordinator in the local public schools system.
“He is a very low-key kind of guy and would never ‘toot his own horn,’ but wow can he play jazz guitar – professional level already”.
D’Amico himself said he aspires to play like the jazz greats, although he is much too humble to even consider such a possibility. “Obviously I will
“Music is such a universal language. I could play with people and connect with them emotionally and as individuals.” – D’Amico
never be as good as Miles Davis or John Coltrane,” he insisted.
In the Fall, D’Amico will be attending the University of North Texas, home of the oldest and one of the most well regarded jazz studies programs in the country. Its premier ensemble, the One O’Clock Lab Band, has toured all over the world and has been nominated for six Grammy Awards.
D’Amico said he has a number of different career paths that he is considering, all of which involve playing guitar. However, his focus now is on preparing for college and continuing to grow and improve as a musician.
Reflecting on his experiences in the local public schools system, D’Amico said he is grateful for the musical opportunities he received and described the performing arts department as the best thing that happened to him during his four years at CHS.
He said he hopes to be remembered as a hard-working musician who was “open to anything” and cared about everyone in the performing arts department.
D’Amico described the music department at CHS as his “home base” and a part of the school where he felt like he could completely be himself and not have to worry about what others thought of him.
“I would hope that people remember … that the [performing] arts department is that kind of place,” he said. “It should never change … and it should always be a place where anyone could be themselves because in art, music, theater, any type of art, it’s only the best art if it’s yourself and if there are no restraints on anything”.
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Published by Random Writer on July 2, 2016, at 10:42 PM.