Summer Programs introduces Ilana Sivachenko, who participated in Berklee’s Five-Week Performance Program. She has been singing since she could talk and has played the piano for 15 years.

What drew you to Berklee’s Summer Programs?

What drew me to Berklee was the ability to experience music fully, to feel it. Growing up I realized that I would not pursue music as a career because I had too many varying interests, but I wanted to give myself one ultimate immersion into music with others that love it as much as I do.

What was your favorite aspect of the program?

My favorite aspect of the program was the sheer passion exuded by everyone there. I firmly believe that nowhere else in the world is there a place like Berklee, where musicians of all different backgrounds with different instruments will break into an impromptu jam session while waiting for a class or a test or orientation. There is no other music school that fosters that kind of a connection between musicians and all forms of music, as well as with all manner of musicians.

                                   Students performing at the Five-Week Vocal Night.

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

During the program I had to overcome a growing stage fright. I spent years on the stage in musical theater, but there’s something so much more personal when you are interacting with instruments and musicians, and playing off of each other. It was a memorable learning experience; it taught me to use my voice but most importantly to use my ears!

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

As a musician, I think Berklee helped me see the music. As a classically trained pianist, I never experienced contemporary theory or modern musical styles through an educational capacity. After sitting down and learning, for the first time I heard the music of the past century honestly and understood the conventions. As a person, Berklee prepared me to go out into the world and take the lessons I learned after the music stopped, about interacting with others, appreciating cultures, and a little spontaneity, into my everyday life, and it is much richer for it.

What are you up to nowadays?

These days, I’m in Israel! I moved back to my home country to try to make it a little brighter, better, and happier. I’m currently in the army through a program known as Atuda, which means after studies a soldier will commit themselves to extra years and a job for the government through the army.

Any other comments?

Thank you for running the program and opening it to teenagers. It’s life changing.