In his work as a singer, songwriter, producer and keys player, Oli Rockberger has worked with award-winning artists including Carly Simon, Gloria Gaynor, John Mayer, Steve Gadd, Jesse Harris and Randy Brecker, as well as recording solo and with his band, Mister Barrington.
We knew his Masterclass would be a goldmine but Oli excelled expectations. Putting together a band of BIMM students – Charles Monneraud, Nicolas Py, Giovanni Velez, George Price, Ollie Dixon and Axel Ekerman – Oli gave an amazing demonstration of group performance dynamics. Playing his own tracks, Oli used variations of each to challenge players to take turns leading and to demonstrate the processes that take place in rehearsal.
Afterwards, students had plenty of questions, such as: How much should a songwriter prepare for the rest of the band?
“I go into the rehearsal with charts, basic form and a tempo. But I don’t have too much because I don’t want to clip anyone’s wings. I want people to be able to create. If there is something specific I want, I will put it in. But the rest is a balancing act.”
How do you know when to trust your own vision and when should you let others take control?
“First you have to know what the song is for, and who it’s for. If it’s for the other person you have to take one for the team and let it go. If you’re writing for you and you have to sing it and sell it there definitely needs to be a conversation. Always look for a third way. If there’s one idea you have that the other person may not agree with then look for the third way. Spend a minute to think about it. If you can understand the spirit of what the other person’s concern is you’ll be okay and you can achieve what you want. Lastly, think of the music being boss and take the ego out of it.”
When did you become happy with your music?
“You always care what people think but you have to tell yourself, ‘This is me, this is what my voice sounds like and if people don’t dig it that’s okay!’. I never sang at Berkley because I was surrounded by amazing singers who could riff forever. It wasn’t until I left I started singing and learnt to develop my own voice and what it can do. It never goes away but you can accept and like yourself.”
We always strive to find the best in the business to teach our students, and Oli’s session excelled in practice, theory and great advice – all the elements of a perfect Masterclass. Thank you to Oli, we hope you’ll come back!