Meet Right Brain Logic


Right Brain Logic, the school’s jazz ensemble, is made up of approximately  20 student musicians every year. The jazz ensemble practices twice a week and performs twice a year in Elfers Hall, with some students performing improvised solos. Right Brain Logic first debuted in 2006 in Elfers Hall, and has been growing during the past 40 years, starting off as a few jazz private lessons and evolving into an official jazz ensemble. 


Mr. Michael Musillami: founder, director, and music composer for Right Brain Logic and instructor in jazz guitar. 


What does your music-writing process look like? 

First, I look at the level of each of the students and see where they are on their instrument in terms of technique. I adapt the music pieces to their levels, so if I compose something too difficult, then I’ll rewrite the piece in a way in which the music can be available to the students. I try to find the balance between accommodating the students and also creating music that has energy and life to it. The music is quite interesting and advanced (post-college-level for the most part), and the students pull it off.


What is your favorite part about Right Brain Logic

My favorite part about the ensemble is when I get to hear the students perform the music. Jazz is really a comment on life and humanity. We read what’s on the page but also what’s not on the page, and that comes from the heart. It’s a place where we can be together and show what we can bring to the table, no matter where you’re from. This spirit is present in Right Brain Logic, where our students, who come from so many different countries and cultures, are all together creating music. 


Beatrice Conti ’22: tuba player


What incited you to join the jazz ensemble?

I like the jazz ensemble because it challenges me in that the music is very fast, syncopated, and a bit dissonant. I grew a lot through the technical struggles I’ve pushed through while playing for the ensemble. It’s also rewarding to produce something that is alive, as no one else will play our music in the same way twice. There’s a bit of excitement that comes each time we play because we don’t fully know what it will sound like. That energy coupled with the musical education we receive from the ensemble makes the group really valuable. 


What is your experience like as a Senior in Right Brain Logic

As a Senior, I’m trying to get the younger students used to the sound of jazz and to being away from the page. I am also pushing myself to play improvised solos. 


Giancarlo Mendoza ’23, : baritone saxophone player and an ensemble improviser


How have your skills developed in Right Brain Logic?

The skills I acquired from playing for Right Brain Logic have helped me vastly in music production. Some of those include sight reading and impromptu jamming with my friends. 


Simon Griffin ’22 : baritone saxophone player


How has Right Brain Logic changed your perception of music?

Right Brain Logic and Mr. Musillami have challenged me to think of music as a problem-solving process. We work through the problems to make more conscientious decisions as a team and understand musical expressions. Mr. Musillami has an unreal amount of passion for what he does, and when he’s playing, he inspires a lot of unique jazz expressions. 


Rahul Kalavagunta ’22: saxophone player


What does jazz music add to your life? 

I used to play classical music before jazz. However, I never really enjoyed classical because there was always a “right” way to play it, and the music felt really rigid, especially for the saxophone. Since I started playing jazz, I’ve been having more fun with my instrument, which also helps me reduce stress levels. When I’m doing my homework, sometimes I’ll take a short break and go to the practice room to play some of my favorite jazz pieces or just improvise. It doesn’t really matter what I’m playing – just the act of playing jazz itself calms me down. In this way, music has been a great creative outlet for me. 


If a new student were looking to join Right Brain Logic, what would you tell them? 

As long as you know how to play a few notes, or if you learn and work your way up to playing a few notes, you can definitely find a place in Right Brain Logic! You don’t have to be perfect or amazing to join, and a lot of the students in the ensemble only started playing at Hotchkiss. Mr. Musillami will let you work your way up in difficulty. It’s also a great way to socialize and further your creativity in music. 


The school community can look forward to the next Right Brain Logic performance this year on December 4.