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Diamonds in the rough

WMRHS seniors accepted to Berklee College of Music

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Jared Hazelton (click for larger version)
April 03, 2019
WHITEFIELD — Any student interested in a career in music dreams about attending the world class Berklee College of Music. For most this is a pipe dream, however two seniors from White Mountains Regional High School Jared Hazelton and Lily Monahan, have turned their pipe dreams into a reality after both being accepted to the college.

For two students from the same class, from a small, rural school in northern New Hampshire to be accepted into this highly selective school is a testament to their parents, community and of course, their music teacher, Michael Martins.

In response to the news, Martins said, "I am so proud of both of them. Berklee College of Music is a world class music school that happens to be only a few hours down the highway. It is always exciting when a student from WMRHS gets an acceptance letter from Berklee. Eight years ago, Tori Caruso got one and four years ago, Julia Kamins got one. Now, Jared and Lily both got accepted on the same day."

Hazelton, who admits he was shaking when his acceptance letter came in, comes from a musical family with relatives who are music teachers. Both of his parents instilled a love of heavy metal music on the young Hazelton without even knowing what would come of it at the time. Hazelton's father Ken, has a CD collection that takes up more room in his house then do most of the things he owns. To note, is that CD collection is in perfect alphabetical order, making bands easy for the young Hazelton to snag and listen too.

At a young age, Ken would talk to his son about his favorite bands and include in depth trivia about each musician in every band along with when, what and where each album or song was released. Trivia, that at the time Ken never realized would actually stick with Jared. If you see Jared on the street, ask him any question about any metal band, especially those from the 1980's and 1990's and he will know the answer.

Jared began playing music as young as six months old when he would play with his baby musical toys with more interest than other babies his age. In Jared's young photos, you will not find him without a toy drum set, a colorful keyboard or a microphone hanging from his hands.

Hazelton picked up his first drum set when he was just six years old and began learning Megadeth songs. Hazelton's mother Dee, knew her son had talent, however decided to have him begin his music lessons on the trumpet, "the only real instrument we could get our hands on" said Dee.

"I knew that he was a natural with the drums and was coming along fast on guitar," Dee said. "I wanted to slow him down a bit to broaden his appreciation of music, so we snagged his grandfather's trumpet and the rest is history."

As he grew, Hazelton learned to play just about every instrument you can think of and spent most of his free time playing in various friend's living rooms with parents who were supportive enough to plug their ears, until over the years the sounds were perfected. Hazelton even had the police called on him for a noise complaint, something for the biography in the future. To note, the police have always supported Hazelton's loud music, after all, it's good stuff.

Two months before his audition at Berklee, Hazelton who decided to audition on the drums did not know how to read drum music, however was insistent that this would be the instrument to get him through the door. As swiftly as ever, he learned to read the music and down to Boston he went with drum sticks in his hands and a dream in his heart.

"The audition was pretty chill. I was in room with two guys, played through my song and played some select grooves and written pieces," said Hazelton. "We then talked about my background and what my musical aspirations are."

Hazelton has plans to become a touring and recording musician and do production on the side.

"The idea of being able to play music for a living has always been my dream and being able to share it with other people who are willing to listen is one of the best feelings," said Hazelton.

As for his music teacher, Hazelton applauded his commitment to the program, and to Jared's own success, saying "Mr. Martins has always pushed me to be a better musician and to always go for what may seem unattainable."

Martins said, "Jared probably practices as much in one weekend as many students might do in two weeks. His skills are built upon on a weekly basis. He is one of the fastest student drummers that I've ever worked with. The speed and coordination of his hands and his feet is jaw-dropping."

Martins added, "He is capable of working within many different styles and genre, and is constantly aware of what is happening on the stage around him. On top of his drumming, his work on acoustic and electric guitar is also better than what I've seen from most student guitarists."

Lastly, Martins said, "His knowledge of chords, progression and rock and metal music is phenomenal. Add to that the fact that he has played lead trumpet in the WMRHS band throughout his four years gives him a multi angled insight of how ensembles work."

Now enter Lily Monahan, who was awake at midnight when the email from Berklee came in. Tears immediately began flowing as the young singer celebrated the good news during the wee hours of the morning. Monahan had always dreamed of going to Berklee but never thought it could actually happen.

"When I was in sixth grade I had a Berklee sweatshirt that I wore all the time. When I realized it was something that wasn't going to happen, I threw it away," said Monahan.

As with most individuals with talent, it is something that is seen from a very young age. The case is no different with the Lancaster native.

According to her mother Julee, "She was playing with her recorder one day in second grade and all of a sudden I heard her playing 'Eye of the Tiger' and 'Smoke on the Water.' Julee joked that when she began singing Jackson 5 songs, she said out loud, 'Wow, she's really got something.'"

In fourth grade, Monahan began playing the clarinet for Martins in the elementary school band. She then dropped out in seventh grade as she lost interest. Believe it or not, Monahan was actually shy at first about her singing. During her time on various sports teams, you could always hear a little voice coming from somewhere just humming out loud or singing songs. The second Monahan would be asked to actually sing, she simply smiled and would say no.

While at friend's houses Monahan could be heard singing in the bathroom, the best place for acoustics, or at the dinner table. While riding in the car a voice from the backseat could be heard belting out Alicia Keys songs non-nonchalantly sounding better than the original artist.

It wasn't long after that Monahan began to accept the fact that she was in fact talented. This led her to singing the National Anthem at school events, performing at weddings and other functions. Music took a hold on Monahan that will forever be there. In 2013, she began attending music camps to perfect her craft.

Monahan is one of the lead vocalists for WMRHS' Progressive Style class, which is a contemporary band. Here she said she learned to feel more comfortable on stage. This in addition to her many roles in theatre.

Admittedly not always the best student in her younger years, Monahan struggled in the classroom however it was sports and music that kept her just above water.

At the end of her sophomore year, Monahan was delivered a blow that could have derailed her. The unexpected passing of her father took a toll on her that she wasn't ready to endure. Just two weeks later and still deep in grief, Monahan attended the prom with a friend so her friend would not have to go it solo. This was a defining moment where Monahan showed that she had the type of drive to push through hard times and make her future her own.

Over the next two years, her focus was on school. Monahan was recently awarded academic honors, just prior to her acceptance into Berklee.

While in Boston, she sang "She Used to be Mine" from the musical "Waitress."

"I was really nervous," she recalled. "We went into a room where a student was performing while we all waited for our names to pop up."

When her name appeared, she entered the audition room where she said the woman seemed surprised by her and was intrigued.

"There were so many auditions that day, I could have been brushed, off but this woman seemed to really enjoy what I was doing," said Monahan.

Of Monahan, Martins said, "Good singers are pretty common. However, Lily can control her voice in all registers and with different levels of intensity, which is not as common. She has done vocal work with our jazz band, which is one kind of sound and texture and of course she is a lead singer with our Progressive Styles class where she will sing everything from Susan Tedeschi (a Berklee alum) to Led Zeppelin."

Martins added, "She knows how to build intensity through a song and pick the perfect spot to release it, using her power and sometimes what we call a little 'grain.' She has a background on clarinet and more recently on tenor sax, which adds the instrumental discipline to the package."

Monahan explained that Martins has always had a lot of faith in her and knew how to guide her in learning her own musical process.

"Mr. Martins has always been such a positive influence to me, not with just music but in everyday life as well," she said.

Varney Smith
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