Making the most out of your music school experience. Story of NYU student
"One of the things that made me want to go [to Clive Davis] is because I wanted to be a woman in the music industry who is able to stand on her own two feet, know what she's talking about in all aspects, and be self-sufficient."
Gabrielle Grella, pictured above
Born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and her brother going to New York University, Gabrielle Grella wasn't new to the scene. Now a junior at NYU Tisch's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, the start of her music path was quite unique: getting a concussion during her freshman year of high school, Gabi couldn't do much but sit in the dark, which was when she got into songwriting. "I found Ed Sheeran pretty early in his career, [and] when I was watching his videos I forgot about how sad I was at the time," she begins, sharing how she was officially diagnosed with depression at the time. "I was like: 'Oh, I want to be able to do that for other people!'"

Gabi taught herself how to play guitar through YouTube, and seeing her daughter's passion, her mom found a four-week summer program in New York offered by the Clive Davis Institute. She enjoyed the program so much that the institute became the only school she chose to apply to. Looking back on this decision, the musician mentions that while it was risky, this was where her heart was set on going.

"One of the main reasons I fell in love was because of the people," Gabi states. "Faculty, staff, and administration all were really nice and made you feel like you were home." To note, most of the faculty members are also working members in the music industry and are involved in their own careers, which brings something very valuable to the institute and its classrooms. "We have a professor, his name is Jim Anderson, who gets nominated for Grammys every year!" Gabi exclaims. "Just having people like that as role models and mentors so close to you and willing to help, not because they need to, but because they want to be there, makes you want to work harder and be just as passionate."
Gabi pictured at Sterling Sound
In order to prepare students for the future, Clive Davis gives a very well-rounded education, offering business classes that focus on relatively-new topics such as cryptocurrency in the music industry, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, among others. "You're going to learn about everything in the music industry, whether you want to or not," Gabi explains. Besides the holistic curriculum, the institute also provides amazing facilities. "We have four brand spanking new studios and they are just top-of-the-line incredible," she smiles.

Discussing her own plans for when she graduates, the musician is feeling excited and grateful. "Right now, I am an intern at a mastering studio called Sterling Sound," she continues. During the four-week summer program, Gabi met Chris Gehringer, the man who she currently works for, and kept in contact with him. Although the company didn't have interns, he eventually let Gabi intern. "I didn't bother him until he let me shadow him, but like I bothered him until he let me shadow him," Gabi remembers, laughing. "I was persistent without being annoying and we developed a nice relationship."

The musician places a lot of emphasis on just how important being genuine when you keep in touch with people is, and that you don't have to always be asking for something. "I was at the mastering studio since my freshman year, and now it's gotten to the point where they trust me enough where I can cover reception, or help with tasks," she tells me. In the future, she hopes that after graduation, the company will hire her full-time to be a production assistant, and then plans to work her way up to be a chief engineer there. Fingers crossed!
Gabi with Chris Gehringer at Sterling Sound. Photos provided by Gabrielle Grella
As well as having a full-time job and focusing on songwriting and mastering, Gabi volunteers at a lot of events, which also helped her meet new people and seek new experiences, and works as a production assistant at Clive. One thing that she wishes she would've paid attention to more, however, is taking part in clubs. "Because the program is so small, it is easy to just stay within your little bubble," the musician elaborates. "It is important for everyone to kind of branch out, and it's easier to make friends the more groups you join in."

While there are a lot of things that Clive Davis teaches, one valuable lesson Gabi took away was that, especially in the music industry, it is crucial to make a lot of your own opportunities. "They give you the tools to succeed, but if you don't open your toolbox and use them, then they're just going to sit there and get rusty," she says. When the music school has panels and music industry tycoons come to talk, they always encourage everyone to talk to them, but it really depends on the student. "If you didn't follow up with these people, if you didn't make a connection, then it's just an opportunity gone," Gabi believes. Moreover, the institute gives a lot of opportunities to become and be independent — learning how to manage time, follow instructions, among others. In her words, these are the real-life experiences that Clive gives you that you take with you because you learn how to make standards for yourself as well.

Recalling her experience being and studying in New York, the musician is filled with nothing but gratitude and love for the place. "There are so many opportunities to experience in New York, which makes it really special to be learning and growing in that type of environment," Gabi concludes.
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