Ivan Betancourt ’22 entered Andover as a new Lower in 2019 and enjoys the community he has found at the school. Betancourt continues to pursue his passion for piano with Jazz Band and participates in the Jazz Lab music program at the New England Conservatory of Music (N.E.C.), and is also interested in music production and football.
When I first started taking piano lessons at around six years old, I was classically trained. It wasn’t until a year later that I had to switch teachers and start learning jazz piano. As my new teacher taught me more about playing jazz, I enjoyed it increasingly over time, and eventually decided to exclusively study jazz piano. On top of this, I also started to grow a love for jazz music in general, which is part of the reason I wanted to play.
As part of the rhythm section, my job is to provide a stable and steady background for the lead instruments. I’ve grown to really enjoy my role in the band and learned to play it most effectively over the years. However, I think it’s most fun when I do get to travel outside my role and be a lead instrument for a moment. It’s then when I get to express myself through jazz.
On top of taking weekly lessons, I’m also part of a music program at N.E.C. called Jazz Lab. In a normal setting, lots of high schoolers would meet at the conservatory in Boston and we would take many jazz related courses and prepare for a final concert to perform at the end. With the current circumstances, we are completely online and continue to take courses. However, the focus has shifted from playing our instrument and more towards learning about our instrument.
I primarily make Hip Hop music, but I like to experiment with other genres every once and awhile. And yes, I have a full Google Drive’s worth of beats I’ve created over the years.
When I started, I taught myself how to use GarageBand on my iPad, and I used that for a while until I was able to get music making software on my laptop. I then learned to use that software just from the experience of using it.
As I was applying to secondary schools, I would hear many of my friends and peers speak very highly about Andover. Initially, I never intended to apply because I thought my chances of being admitted were too low to be worth it. But as I kept researching about the school, I could tell that there was a big sense of community at Andover that would fit me. The more I learned about what Andover had to offer, the more I thought that I should give it a shot. But what primarily attracted me to Andover was the overall excellence of all departments of the school.
I knew that coming in as a new Lower would mean a harder time making friends than my Junior counterparts. Though excited about starting my Andover experience, I wondered how I would fit in with the grade. I was lucky enough to have welcoming people in my dorm who quickly befriended me. Through them, I was able to meet lots of new people and eventually solidify my place in the community. I was quickly able to say that Andover was a second home for me.
Having the freedom to choose how you spend your time outside of class. Throughout all my time in school prior to Andover, the entire day was scheduled, so there was always somewhere you needed to be or something you needed to be doing. Having this degree of independence is why I’ve really enjoyed my boarding experience.
I tried playing football for the first time during my Lower Fall just to see if I liked it. It turned out to be very fun since I’ve never played football competitively before then. What I liked most was practicing with friends and learning more about the game in the process.
It’s been tough to not be on campus. I feel that part of my academic success at Andover can be attributed to free time spent with friends, and not having that has made it difficult to stay motivated. I know it can’t be helped, but I feel like I’m missing out on what would have been a very fun and memorable year. It’s weird to think that the majority of my Andover experience has been online and away from campus. I’m hoping things get better by the spring so we can all return.