Hello, My name is Andrew Riezebeek and I currently live in the Netherlands. I turned 15 on June 29, 2009. Only 20 minutes removed from Amsterdam, you might think life is amazing, but in the little town where I live life actually gets pretty boring. Even though I live in a fairly remote modern farmers village, I keep myself busy and happy with music 24/7!

Music is what I am! I grew up with music; it is always present in my house. My grandfather studied music, my dad and brother play piano and my mom is always blasting all sorts of music on the stereo. Sometimes all the excitement results in family “dance-offs” you really would not want to witness.

I first discovered Berklee when I was 10 years old.  Instantly it looked like heaven to me. I finally found a place where I could be surrounded by people who were as dedicated and hungry for music as I was. I have wanted this environment for as long as I could remember. After discovering Berklee, I began to dig into the educational methods/concepts they use at the school. Slowly I started noticing that a lot of my heroes were alumni (John Mayer, Nate Morton and Quincy Jones etc). The first time I looked at the list I couldn’t believe it! All the music I loved and was influenced by was created by musicians that were associated with Berklee in one way or another. It was almost like magic!

Guitar Sessions: “After this experience, no one could stop me!”

When I turned 12 my parents and other people really started noticing my playing. I was asked to come to the Rock Academy in Tilberg, and I was getting more and more serious about music. I basically knew what I wanted to study and had a very distinct vision of what my future was going to be like. Knowing my passion for Berklee, my parents signed me up for the Berklee Guitar Sessions program. I turned 13 right before the program started. I was breaking the age requirements completely, but with the help from Dana Acker, (Director of Enrollment for Summer Programs) I was able to attend the program. I will always be thankful for the chance he gave me.  I also received the Godin scholarship (2007) to the program and I had the great honor of being asked to audition for a Berklee scholarship. Berklee gave me the confidence boost I needed to keep growing and challenging myself musically and socially. After this experience, no one could stop me!

During the next summer (2008) I decided I should go to Guitar Sessions again.  To my complete surprise, this summer I received the Fender scholarship and I was asked to audition for a Berklee scholarship again! This summer was even better because by this time I was well acquainted with the city and with the Berklee ‘vibe’ so to speak. I learned even more, and was confident in my playing during the program. I was a Berklee student in the making, a musician on a mission.

T. Lavitz with students of the Rock Workshop

T. Lavitz with students of the Rock Workshop

Summer Rock Workshop: My highest achievement to date.”

This past summer I attended the Five-Week Performance Program. Now that I finally turned 15 I was able to stay in the dorms and get the full Berklee experience.  I had the honor of being one of the guitar players in the Summer Rock Workshop with T. Lavitz. Having the honor of receiving a “full-ride” to the Five-Week Program and working with T. Lavitz (6 time Grammy nominated piano player for the Dixie Dreggs) was my highest musical achievement to date. Berklee really gave me the chance to reach a new level, and I also got the chance to play with some of the best musicians I have ever met. Having the opportunity to record two six-hour sessions in the Berklee studios and to perform in the Café 939 was the best time of my life.

Meeting all these fellow musicians and just jamming all day long was the life I have always wanted to live.  I met great people and made life-long friends. I still chat with my buddies every day. I think this says enough about how much you bond with all the other summer students.

As well as my fellow students, the teachers here at Berklee really become your friends as well. The faculty at the college is just amazing! The teachers are so down to earth and you can really have a great laugh with all of them. Being a part of the Rock Workshop resulted in me becoming close friends with T. Lavitz. Working with him five days a week really helped us create a great social bond. I would have never dreamt to connect with such a successful musician.

Every day I would wake up and be pumped for my Musicianship Class.”

There was one more teacher that really stood out to me: Bob Pilkington. Bob teaches Musicianship, which was my favorite class in the program. You learn solfege, as well as other tools to succeed as a professional musician. Things such as solfege are totally overlooked by many musicians and I am so happy I was introduced to it. I will always use solfege from now on. Bob himself is actually one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He is so passionate about his job at the college and delivers his classes with drive and humor. Every day I would wake up and just be pumped for my Musicianship class. It is a very special class to follow!

Warming up for a performance at Cafe 939.

Warming up for a performance at Cafe 939.

After the first week I already knew I wanted to come back for 2010. So, I decided to audition for a full-tuition scholarship for Five-Week 2010. I started at Berklee fairly young, so I was not too nervous for the audition. On the night of the Blow-Out Concert, a lot of scholarships where handed out. The first category of awards was “Scholarships for the Five-Week Performance Program 2010”. As the names where rolling down the screen I was getting pretty nervous. To my surprise, my name was called! I basically jumped out of my seat out of sheer happiness! I was so honored. I ran out and called my parents right away to deliver the great news. This meant a guaranteed ticket back to Berklee for the summer of 2010.

Next summer I hope to network even more and I am really interested in focusing less on rock and more on hip-hop and funk. I am going to try to join some different ensembles like the hip-hop ensemble. I cannot wait to expand my musical abilities even further and have another best summer of my life!

Berklee has really given me so many opportunities to become the well-rounded person and musician I want to become in life! I will always be thankful for finding out about this school and I’ll always be thankful for all the support it has granted me.

Cheers and thanks for reading,

Andrew Riezebeek