His schedule is full: four bands, the school jazz band, even Advanced Percussion, the highest curricular percussion class in the school. His abilities are seemingly endless: swing grooves to funky beats and sometimes even a few guitar chords. His charisma is genuine–not a day goes by without him spreading a smile or a laugh with his section and other people he encounters in the hallway. Amid all of this, he is also a student.
Sophomore Luke Gerskovich is the true definition of a musician. He does everything with heart and dedication. “I primarily play the drums,” he told me when we sat down in the band room for an interview. “I also play different styles of drums,” he added, referring to his performances featuring rock, funk and jazz. Gerskovich began playing the drums in third grade “for a not very inspirational reason.” “I started because I enjoyed playing Beatles rock,” he explained, smiling. “I got inspired by that.” Luke told me that he has two drum sets: an electric and an acoustic. “I mostly use the acoustic,” he remarked. He occasionally uses the electric set for recording himself, and also to experiment with different sounds.
Gerskovich is also a guitar player–a rare lefty guitarist. “It’s difficult [to] find new guitars,” he told me. “A lot of lefties learn as righties.” Despite this, Luke learned as a lefty, which basically means he plays the guitar flipped opposite compared to righty players. “I started playing guitar in fifth grade,” he shared. “I took a break for a while until the end of freshman year where I picked it back up again… I started taking lessons again.” Gerskovich shared his guitar skills in this year’s talent show pit band, where he contributed a variety of styles to the ensemble. “I don’t take drum lessons right now,” he shared, to my surprise. “Only guitar.” Personally knowing Luke from band and other events, his ability to keep time and contribute style is phenomenal, and to top it off, they are skills learned all by himself.
When asked why he began to involve himself in music, his response was simple: “I always enjoyed music; I always loved listening to music, and I’ve always wanted to make my own music through instruments that I find interesting.” His musical influences include a wide range of drummers and musicians. His drummer role models include John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell and “pioneer drummers” such as Buddy Rich and Joe Jones.
The list of Gerskovich’s musical ensembles is truly impressive and diverse. “The main bands that I’m in right now [include] j.o.e. (a rock/funk band with Gabby Moore, Graham Breidenbach, Rafa Swerdlin, Keenan Jajeh and Ryan McFadden), Elysium (a rock group with JT Kirages, Adam Clayton and Jack Lavanway) and School of Rock,” Luke explained. The School of Rock is an organization that organizes concerts for its students that focus on a certain artist or style of music. “One show that I’d be in would be a Led Zeppelin show where we play all Led Zeppelin songs,” Gerskovich shared. Somehow, Luke also found the time to be a valuable member of the LFHS Jazz Band. He also has helped out my band, The Swing Sonatas when our regular drummer has been unavailable or sick.
If he had to pick a favorite, it would be j.o.e. “We’re a very tight group, and we all enjoy the same kind of music and we have a bond,” Luke remarked. “[This bond] helps us with our stage presence or how we organize songs for the set lists.”
When asked what he has learned from his musical involvement, Luke shared multiple lessons that music has taught him. “I’ve learned a lot of general music knowledge, like dynamics and music theory,” he shared. “I’ve also learned a lot of etiquette for practicing or learning music, especially during a band practice… also [how to be] responsible with your commitments and practicing.” The social aspect of music has also benefited Gerskovich: “I’ve gotten to know a lot of good people through music and through my ability to play drums, especially during talent show,” shared the drummer, who was a part of four acts in this year’s show.
“I had a lot of fun [with this year’s] talent show,” Luke remarked. “I was in talent show this year, and I was in two acts, but I was in four acts this year, which was a little chaotic at times.” “But you pulled it off,” I added. “I pulled it off,” he agreed with a smile.
The future for Luke is likely to contain music in some way. “I don’t know if I would major in it, but I would definitely try to talk to some people and find some people to start something with,” he told me. “I don’t want to let go of the whole [band] thing.”
So what advice would a musician like Luke give to someone considering starting their own ensemble? “Stay committed to it,” he shared. “Every band starts out pretty bad, or pretty dysfunctional, but I’d say just don’t give up.”
Don’t give up. Sage advice for anyone, but unique advice when it comes to music. I can tell you personally that Luke is right; starting your own ensemble is intimidating and extremely difficult. You have to balance the social aspect of the group along with the ability to play the music that you want to.
Luke has charisma and dedication, something that is only found in the most dedicated of musicians in our world. His enthusiasm for the art form has benefited not only his life, but the lives of the people that he works with. He’s found something that he loves, and it definitely loves him back. Keep an eye out for one of his many performances; his dedicated stylings are definitely not ones you want to miss.