Educator Spotlight from The Cape Symphony! Winter 2023
FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: MEET BRAD CONANT
Cape Symphony’s percussion students already know Brad Conant is someone special. Beyond his impressive skills and accomplishments as a drummer, he’s a versatile, supportive teacher and an upbeat, energetic person. It’s immediately clear that Brad loves his job. Spending time with him, you can’t help but come away feeling that positive energy too.
Brad’s drumming is in high demand. “I played in 39 bands last year! Everything from African pop to wedding bands… funk, orchestral, you name it.” It takes a quick study to change gears like that. Is it hard work? “I would say it is very rewarding work,” he says. “To be able to create with so many different people is truly inspiring. I am lucky but also acknowledge it took a lot of hard work to get here.”
Last summer he worked with Billy Stritch (Liza Minnelli’s and Tony Bennett’s pianist), Lea DeLaria (Orange is the New Black), and Sandra Bernhard in Provincetown. “Provincetown is such a great town to gig. It’s so much fun walking around, grabbing some Spiritus Pizza and going from venue to venue.”
No two days in Brad’s week are alike. “One day I could teach a 7 year-old student, then a 70 year-old student, go play for a couple hundred people, head home and snuggle with my dog… the next I could be in the studio working on a stranger’s album.” How does he manage it all? He holds up his phone. “My iCal. I list absolutely everything. Where I have to be, what gear I need… it’s all here.”
Asked if there’s something his students might be surprised to learn about him, Brad says “I’m a pretty good basketball player! People meet musicians and think we must be nerdy… I’m more well-rounded than people might expect. I love sports, I’m a band nerd, I love fishing… I do a bit of everything.”
Brad’s teaching style is also well-rounded, and highly adaptable. He teaches all percussion instruments: “drum set, orchestral percussion, marching percussion -- whatever the student’s interests and needs are. I’ll teach everything… how to hold a drumstick, how to listen to a song, how to work musically with others. I’m here to help you reach your goals and ambitions.”
Brad’s excited about Cape Symphony’s new class for children aged 5-7. “Percussion Explorers is going to be very fun,” he says. “It’ll engage parts of their brains that haven’t been developed yet. It’s about improvisation with a focus on creativity. We’ll talk about ‘found sounds’ – how do you imitate the sound of a door shutting? How about thunder? How does it make you feel?”
A Berklee College of Music graduate, Brad is proud to have studied with some of the world’s greatest drummers. “Take lessons from as many teachers as possible,” he advises. “Pull from everyone!” Teachers and students both inspire him every day.
Brad Conant loves to make music, and to see his students love it, too. “Our job as musicians is to communicate without words in order to move the listener.” he says. “It’s awesome.”