Summer Programs introduces Jean Michel Zayas, a drummer from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, who participated in Berklee’s Five-Week Performance Program

Which summer program did you attend and what drew you to Berklee?

I went to the 2008 summer program when I was 17 years old. The opportunity came thanks to my godfather, who saw potential in me and wanted to show me the experience he had when he studied at Berklee.

What was your favorite aspect(s) of the program?

The atmosphere of just good music and being able to share and learn from musicians who are just incredible at what they do.

What were some of the challenges that you faced during the program?

Basically I had never formally studied music or didn’t know how to read music, so when I went to Berklee I took the studies very seriously. It was a challenge for me to catch up with other students at their level. 

How has your time at Berklee influenced you as a musician and as a person?

As a musician, it opened my mind and made me see the talent that is around the world, and for me that made me wanted to be better and better. Secondly, as a person who comes from an island in the Caribbean at age 17, it made me more responsible and open minded about other people.

What are you up to nowadays?

I had a band a few months ago, but I’m no longer playing with them. You can hear the album here: 
Currently I’m playing at bars and events at restaurants with some friends.

Any other comments?

Berklee was by far the best summer and experience I have had…I feel grateful for the time it lasted, and I’m sure that’s the feeling everyone on the summer program had. Hopefully lots of young musicians will live the experience too.