Bethlehem students backstage
Liberty HS music students learned what life is like in the music business on a Sunday afternoon at Musikfest. Students were invited to the Wind Creek Steel Stage at PNC plaza, the same stage that Lady Antebellum would grace later that evening, to see what goes into preparing for a show and to learn valuable life lessons on staying focused on long-term goals.
A few hours before the scheduled show, Lauren Allen, director of client and community relations for PNC Bank, met an eager group of Liberty students on East 1st Street just past the stage’s main entrance. PNC has been a community sponsor for Musikfest for the past 15 years and this is their second year hosting Bethlehem Area School District Students.
“Students think about what they see,” Lauren said on the warm August afternoon. She aimed to give students more opportunities to see. The partnership between PNC and the Bethlehem Area School District provides students with the opportunity to experience the many different aspects of the music business, from sound checks to learning about the multitude of supporting roles. Lauren stated that the musicians only account for 10 percent of the jobs associated with the music industry and this opportunity provides students with a peek into the other ninety percent of roles.
After meeting with Lauren and Dr. Jack Silva, Bethlehem Area assistant superintendent, the students were ushered into the venue. Students first sat in the stands and watched the band practice vocals and set up their instruments from the stands. Soon after, they were on the main stage and met the tour manager for Lady Antebellum, Daniel Miler.
Once on stage, students were able to watch the band’s stage crew set up for the evening performance. They watched and listened to a sound check and were able to see all of the equipment that would support the evening’s show. Several band members were on and off the stage during the soundcheck.
After the soundcheck was complete, students were guided to the adjacent tent where they could ask questions and hear words of advice and encouragement from Lady Antebellum’s tour manager. Miller was asked how we would describe life as a tour manager. He told the students that his days are long, sometimes as long as 18 hours, and he’s constantly on the road, along with the five tour busses and two semitrailers it takes to support a Lady Antebellum concert. However, he told the students that they should work hard at what they love, and the Nashville native said he loves what he does. He also encouraged students not to force themselves into music and to align their future careers with their passions.
Francesca Piscitello ’20, who is a fourth-year Grenadier Band member, was impressed with the backstage experience. As a member of Liberty’s stage crew team, she already had an interest and an exposure to sound and lighting. She stated she wanted to get as involved as possible with theater and stage crew when she attends college in the fall of 2020. She said she was surprised to learn that several band members had their children on stage during the sound check. Francesca got to see a side of the business few see, the inclusion of families while on the road.
Michelle Loaiza ’22, a second-year member of the Grenadier Band and Liberty Jams, was surprised by the amount of gear on the tour. Michelle’s take-away message was to start small, but stay dedicated to the field of music.
Anna Lazewski ’23, a first-year Grenadier Band member, has dreams of majoring in theater and performance and working in a music ensemble. She was surprised to learn how stringent the no photo policy was at the venue during her backstage tour. However, she was inspired through the experience. She plans on working towards her musical dreams to achieve great things.
After the tour manager concluded with the students under the tent, they were given tickets and invited back to the evening performance from the Grammy award winning band. While the students represented a diverse range of career interests, they can all agree, that is is not an experience they will forget as they move forward in life.