Rome, Italy is 4298 miles away from New York City. It takes a little over 8 hours just to get to Rome by flying. Collective alumni Andrea Longato and Francesco Beccaro have traveled this distance many times for the love they have to create music and expand their growing skill set at The Collective.
TM: How has the transition been coming to The Collective and New York City from Italy?
AL: A big transition for me. Back in Italy I was studying Engineering at the university, working full-time, and taking private lessons. I had a chance to study with some good teachers, but when I came to The Collective, I had the chance to play music with teachers in a rhythm section setting, which is a totally different learning environment. When you are in a rhythm section setting you have to learn how to communicate with other people and speak your own voice. That was very groundbreaking to me. Not only did I have to figure out how to improve on my own instrument, I had to figure out how to play with other people as well. It was really hard in the beginning, but it helped me improve greatly.
FB: It has definitely been a big transition for me. I was already playing professionally in Italy, and also teaching. I was about to get into big tours and do a lot of playing, but wanted to improve on what I was doing so I decided to come here. When I got here it was very different for me. To be able to play with amazing teachers and professional musicians in rhythm sections changed everything for me. Some of the things I always thought was impossible to do, I was practicing daily, in fact hourly. I also gave me a chance to focus on my part playing in the band rather than focusing on just myself.
TM: Did you both meet here at The Collective or did you know each other back home?
AL & FB: No we met here!
AL: It was real interesting when we met. My level of musicianship was a lot different than Francesco’s. In the beginning we tried to play together, but it was too hard for me. For a few months I decided to concentrate on playing in different rhythm sections so I could improve. Eventually Francesco and I started playing in a trio situation with one of the drum students here, Mason Ingram. This was great for me because it helped me improve on what I was trying to learn, and also opened me up to new things as a trio. Playing with them gave me a sense of self-awareness as to what I could do and also as to what I needed to work on.
TM: How would you describe The Collective to a student coming from another country?
FB: Coming to The Collective is a great experience as a musician. Playing and learning with teachers that push you to play at a higher level definitely makes you a better player. When you are here you are constantly playing and are involved in music. It really is an intense full-time music situation that gives you another mind-set toward your playing. I would say if you want to study abroad and want the real deal full time experience, come to The Collective. No matter what teacher you study with they are going to treat you as a professional and they are going to push you to become better. Another great thing about The Collective is that you can study with any teacher here. If you are a bass or guitar student, you can study with a drum teacher. It is the same with drummers, they can study with a bass, or guitar, or keyboard teacher. It gives you a lot of options to choose from and helps you improve your musicianship in many different ways.
AL: I agree with everything Francesco said. The Collective is definitely a place that will give you a real world experience. The teachers are all professionals and treat you the same way. They do not make you feel like you can’t learn and improve you’re playing. They are always focused on helping you get better and reach your goals. I think some people perceive The Collective as mainly a drummer’s school. There are a lot of drummers here, but the school also has a great guitar, bass, and keyboard program. The learning experience is very, very intense and allows you to study with musicians that play on all different levels.
TM: What are your thoughts about the Faculty here?
FB: Very, very, professional and they are always trying to make you a better musician. You might find some teachers are stricter with you and some that aren’t as strict but they all want you to succeed at the school. They don’t hold anything back and give you everything they have as a teacher to make you better. You feel like they care about you as a student and they treat you like a professional.
AL: And they are humble too! One of the great things about the Faculty here is that they care about music, and they care about music in a way that they want to share everything they have to make music better. When we are playing with teachers here they make us feel like we are all on the same level. There is never a sense of competition between anyone. The only competition you feel like you have is within yourself to do better and meet your own goals.
FB: Another great thing about the Faculty is that they are all working musicians, not just teachers. They are out working all the time and are very involved in the music scene in New York.
TM: What is the overall vibe of the school like?
AL: The first thing I can say is that the vibe of the school is great! I mean, all of the students are really nice and it’s a great pleasure to be around them all of the time. If there wasn’t a good vibe here I wouldn’t be able to spend 12 hours a day here, honestly. We’ve been playing with as many other students as possible and everyone is willing to learn. You see people’s playing change and improve a lot over the course of the time they study here. It’s very cool to see this happen and watch everyone grow. It’s great to be able to support each other and help each other out when someone is struggling. That to me is a great vibe and not only makes this place great to learn but it is also a great place to hang out with other musicians as well.
FB: I agree with everything Andrea said!
TM: Have you had any success getting gigs in New York?
FB: I think the only way you can get gigs in New York is to get out there and play. That seems like the only way to go about it. No one is going to come along and just give you a gig. You need to be out there playing with everyone, not matter what the gig is. If you are good at what you do, people are going to call you to play gigs once your name gets out there. Right now I’m playing 5 to 8 gigs a week, whether it is here at the school in classes, or out in a studio with other musicians, I am busy playing all of the time. New York has a lot it can offer you as a musician, it’s just about getting out there and trying to play the best you can and the most you possibly can.
AL: Agreed! You definitely need to get out and play a lot if you want to get into the music scene in New York. Right now, I’m playing in classes here at the school as well as two Church services every Sunday, and I’m also doing two residences a week with different singer/songwriter combinations. One of the reasons why I’m able to play gigs and work with a lot of people is that I can understand the needs of other musicians. That is something I learned here at The Collective. To be able to understand what direction other people are going in and to be able to adapt to whatever it is that they are asking from you. I also learned that having great musicianship skills is important as well as being creative with my playing.
FB: You definitely need to have a great reputation also. How you are as a human being goes a long way. If you are a nice guy and not taking a dark side to things or talking down to people, you are going to have more opportunities to play. A lot of the teachers here send that message to the students in their teaching. Being a good player and a good person is going to get you more gigs than anything.