Weber Students Tour Nashville Music Scene

Weber Students Tour Nashville Music Scene

Students with The Weber School’s music program visited the popular Southern destination for an immersive learning experience.

Students participate in MasterClass with Patrick M’Gonigle (far left), one of Nashville’s top fiddle players.
Students participate in MasterClass with Patrick M’Gonigle (far left), one of Nashville’s top fiddle players.

Students in The Weber School’s music program traveled to Nashville last month to make music with several of Music City’s leading artists.

Escorted by Weber Music Director Drew Cohen and Sound Engineering Director Michael Levine, the students participated in three expertly curated days of exhilarating experiences designed to expose them to music writing, performing, and recording in a variety of music genres, ranging from bluegrass and country to Judaic-inspired themes and pop tunes.

The group met with Dov Rosenblatt, an American singer, songwriter, producer, composer and teacher, on the first day of their trip. At Congregation Sherith Israel, one of the city’s historic synagogues, they participated in a workshop led by Rosenblatt and composed Jewish prayer-focused music, which they would record later during a session at Blackbird Studio, known for its state-of-the-art production facilities and vintage and modern recording equipment collection. Rosenblatt is credited with advancing Jewish rock in the early 2000s.

Weber students at a songwriting workshop with Dov Rosenblatt

That evening, the students visited The Listening Room, one of Nashville’s leading music venues, to hear the Song Suffragettes, Nashville’s only all-female acoustic showcase. To end the night, the Weber group was joined by Hayley Leiberman, a student at Belmont University and an alumnus of The Weber School, and singer-songwriter Jess Jocoy, for a house concert and jam session at their Airbnb rental.

“Music is a team sport,” said Cohen. “We opted to rent a house for everyone to stay together, cook, invite musicians over and create music together. Everyone loved the jam session and got a lot out of it,” he added.

On day two, the group met with Jordan Tice, one of the country’s top bluegrass guitarists and Patrick M’Gonigle, a popular fiddle player who taught a MasterClass at the Weber group’s rental home. The day also included a tour of the National Museum of African American Music, led by the museum’s educational director, as well as a nighttime visit to the world-renowned Bluebird Café for a Writer’s Round with a small group of singer-songwriters performing their original music.

On the final day of the visit, the students, Cohen, and Levine headed to Blackbird Studio to record “Gam Zeh Ya’avor (This Too Shall Pass),” the song they had written earlier in the visit. The lyrics are based on a text study of the prayer Sim Shalom and drawn from the kids’ past experiences with conflict and peace-making, with a passing mention of the eclipse that happened during the songwriting process.

Levine and Rosenblatt produced the song. An expert at the soundboard, Levine mixed the music at the same studio where the likes of Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran have recorded. In fact, the group performed in the same room used by popular musical artist Kacey Musgraves.

Getting ready to hear the Song Suffragettes at The Listening Room

“Our visit to Nashville was lots of fun and extremely interesting. We are much more knowledgeable about how diverse music is. Everything there revolved around music, and we got to meet so many experienced musicians who talked to us about recording and being on the road,” said Ethan Peck, a sophomore at Weber who has played drums for seven years.

The trip to Nashville was the program’s second visit to a southeastern city. The previous year, Cohen took the students to Asheville, N.C., to meet with singer-songwriters.

At the world-famous Blackbird Studio, the musicians warm up to record “Gam Zeh Ya’avor.”

“We want to create smaller, customized experiences for students. That’s our goal for the music program,” Cohen said. And the direction of the program under his guidance is taking the program to even greater heights. Currently, there are several Weber alumni enrolled in music programs at Berklee College of Music, Belmont University, and Middle Tennessee State University. Other Weber alumni perform in bands, including The Asymptomatics in Athens, and Blind Jive, based out of Kennesaw State University.

Cohen has served as the music director for the past nine years at Weber. Levine came on board this past year, and the two men have big plans for the program. Currently, classes are taught in piano, guitar, band, music theory, Jewish music composition, and sound engineering. There are also two ensembles – a rock band and a more traditional quartet – that have formed and perform with guidance from the two directors. Cohen hopes to add electronic music, history of rock ‘n roll, and songwriting courses to the curriculum in the near future.

On any given day, students pop into the booths in the music space at Weber to play, record or produce music. According to Jaren Wolff, who was playing guitar during his lunch hour in one of the booths, “I love music and would play guitar all day if I could.” Wolff also plays bass guitar and is in the rock band at Weber.

The comprehensive music education program also offers artists-in-residence gatherings, sessions with professional, touring musicians and opportunities to perform alongside musicians at venues around Atlanta. On May 21, the musicians at The Weber School will hold a spring concert of popular music and original student compositions from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the new Tzadik Performing Arts Center. Registration is required, and tickets may be requested at

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