John, a member of the Berkshire Hills Music Academy’s community since joining our inaugural class in 2001, has been motivated by music for as long as he can remember. John recalls that his first instruments were the pots and pans that he played as a very young child, and that his love for and involvement in music and music-related activities continued throughout his childhood. At first John took piano lessons, but around the age of 10 he started to learn the saxophone, and by age 13 he had added the clarinet. Music was one of the ways that John was able to connect with peers in school, and he notes that being in various school bands provided him with not only the opportunity to play music, but to spend time with friends. Individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) often display an affinity or love of music. While they may or may not develop a level of musicality equal to that displayed by John, for most individuals with WS, having music as a part of their lives in some form or fashion can be highly beneficial. All of us, with our without WS, can feel and enjoy the mutual connection that comes through music. John talks about the importance of music in his life, stating, “When I play music it makes me feel good inside. I like playing it for others because it brightens their day up.”
Now living with a roommate in an apartment near BHMA, John has created a meaningful life revolving around his musicality. He performs regularly with two bands, the BHMA Performance Troupe and the Kandoo Band. The Performance Troupe performs regularly for schools, corporations, conferences, fundraisers, and private parties. School performances spread the message of Abilities First, and John has given speeches on this topic in an effort to raise awareness about his experience living with Williams syndrome and the importance of treating all people with mutual respect. The Kandoo Band is a group of BHMA alumni who continue to perform together and inspire audiences, including most recently at the Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port fundraiser.
John is actively pursuing a career as a solo artist, focusing on playing jazz and classical standards, and he is available for hire. He has successfully developed Jazz standard sets which he performs in duo or trio ensembles with other BHMA musicians. He spends time each week updating his website, www.johnliberamusic.com, and this site provides the visitor with an overview of John’s work, including audio clips of current repertoire.
John is also a leader within the BHMA community, serving as a role model and mentor for our Two-Year Transition Program students. Students at BHMA display a wide range of musicality, with some being beginner musicians who may not be as comfortable with performing as John is. He takes them under his wing by providing supportive comments, a positive attitude, and a willingness to help them feel more comfortable in connecting with others through shared music opportunities, such as in an ensemble that contains many kinds of musical learners.
For more information about booking John to perform, contact him here via his website. John is available to play background music at events, as part of a duo or trio musical group, or as part of a larger ensemble, such as a pit orchestra for a musical. His strong work ethic and friendly demeanor make John a solid addition to any musical endeavor. John is eager to share his love of music with audiences all over, because as John notes, “music simply makes the days go better.” We couldn’t agree more.