Pianist and Bassist Rachel Bong ’23 Redefines Her Musical Values Through Andover’s Ensembles

As both a bassist and pianist, Rachel Bong ’23 interacts with music in a variety of ways, whether it be enhancing performances with a steady, thrumming bassline in ensemble concerts or letting the melodies speak for themselves in solo piano recitals. At a young age, Bong stumbled into a passion for music; her introduction to piano came at around four years old, but picked up and stayed with the bass in a more unexpected way.

“I started playing the bass because it was a less common instrument, and my school wanted more people to learn these less popular instruments. I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, but playing in the orchestra and playing solo pieces was really fulfilling for me,” said Bong. 

At Andover, Bong has continued to play the piano and the bass. Joining band and orchestra, she has been able to not only further explore her passion for both instruments in ways that she had not anticipated before. Not only has she been able to engage with jazz in the past year and develop an affinity for the genre alongside her love for Romantic and Classical period music, she comments on how experiences with music at Andover allow her to develop a better sense of how to specifically incorporate and prioritize music in her life.

“Being at Andover has taught me a lot about prioritizing practice. Before, when I was at home, I would have a lot of [free] time. When I came to Andover, I was a lot busier…I learnt that prioritizing time to practice, go to recitals, or attend concerts is really important… [Also,] I would only play solo pieces, but when I came here I started to do more group music playing. That taught me a lot about collaboration and I think it’s something really fun to do,” said Bong. 

Along with allowing her to explore more opportunities, Andover’s music community provides Bong with inspiration and motivation through the talent and hard work of her peers. Through being surrounded by musicians who are all admirable role models in their specific music fields, Bong comments that the people around her have not only taught her about making music, but also how to be a dedicated musician, regardless of the instrument.

“Some of my friends are in orchestra or play an instrument, and I think they are super hard working and… make such great music, which motivates me as a musician to work harder,” said Bong.

Bong’s friend and fellow musician, Zoe Yu ’23, notes that Bong’s skills have opened her up to the musical community on campus. Yu also admires her growth as a musician and as a person throughout her time at Andover, commenting that while her playing style has remained consistent, Andover’s ensembles have allowed her to connect with more people and types of music. 

“I knew [Bong] before I came to Andover. I didn’t really know her as a musician, I just knew her as a friend…I would say she grew as a person, and you could see that through the way she plays her music… I feel like for her, being in touch with music gave her this community in band and orchestra. Music is really this way to really connect people together and I hope she continues doing what she does,” said Yu. 

Just as she has been influenced by her friends and Andover’s music community, Bong hopes to pass this inspiration on to others as well. Now as an upperclassman, Bong hopes to bring unique perspectives and contributions to the community that helped guide her musical exploration and collaborations as a freshman.

“People interpret music differently even if it’s the same piece, so how I interpret the piece might be different than how some other people might view it… I think music is really great because it brings people together even if you listen and interpret it differently. Touching people or inspiring people in some way is really nice,” said Bong.