Apr 06, 2023

Leading with Music in the Tuck Band

By Calvin Garay T’23

Calvin Garay T’23, one of the Tuck Band co-chairs, shares highlights from his time in the band and what lessons he’ll take with him after Tuck.

What is The Tuck Band, for those who don’t know?

The Tuck Band is a Tuck club that’s organized by class year—there’s a band for the first-years (Supply & DaBand) and one for second-years (ManEc! at the Disco). We get together for informal practices pretty frequently and put on different types of concerts, so we can kind of plug into the Tuck social scene from a lot of different angles.

Tuck Band is an awesome way for aspiring musicians, lifelong musicians, or people who are more loosely interested to access music, get together, and collaborate with their classmates in a creative setting that’s welcoming and open.

Calvin Garay playing guitar at a show

What instrument do you play, and how long have you been playing?

I play electric guitar and have played it pretty much my entire life. I think by the time I was a toddler and could hold an object in my hand, my dad put a guitar in it. He’s a musician and he taught me. Whenever I’m home for the holidays, I value the chances to play music with him.

Anywhere I’ve lived, I’ve tried to join or create a band—be it in college, high school, or life post-college. The Tuck Band has honestly been the most rewarding musical experience of my life. I feel lucky to have met some of my classmates who are incredible musicians and we’ve been able to connect on an extremely deep level by playing music together and putting on high-energy shows for crowds ranging from 300 to 800 people. It’s been an amazing way to build relationships at Tuck; some people in the band will be my lifelong friends now. So, yeah, I feel lucky.

What is it like to play with and for your classmates?

It’s an amazing way to build meaningful relationships in a short amount of time. Music is intimate and emotional; you have to be vulnerable. You also have to be a team player. For example, if you’re a rhythm player, you must listen hard and build up whichever of your classmates is soloing to try to make them sound better. The team dynamics are fascinating, and we all get to share the reward of playing for our classmates.

We put in a lot of work, especially leading up to the show day. We’re all kind of putting our necks on the line, up on stage in front of our classmates; so, we want to do it well. But on show day, when things go well—and they always do—we get to bond over how great the feeling was and enjoy the shared success as friends, bandmates, and classmates. That aspect has been really incredible.

Tuck band members performing at a show

Has the band provided any lessons beyond music?

It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding leadership experiences of my life, actually. It’s been really fulfilling to try to get the best out of our group of ~20 musicians, learning to navigate group dynamics, and bonding over a shared interest.

I’ve learned a lot about communication. I and the other musicians in the band have a lot of ideas floating around in our heads about which direction the show should go in, how we should play a particular song, etc. And it’s vital to express these ideas clearly to get buy-in. Our band is comprised of folks from all over the world, from all different musical backgrounds. Some come from jazz backgrounds, and others come from a cappella, electronica, blues rock, and beyond. We have about 10 different singers, a trumpet, a trombone, a saxophone, multiple guitars, conga drums, regular drums, keyboards, synths, and more.

How many shows do you play a year?

As many as we can! Playing in Raether Hall on campus is an awesome experience—it’s a beautiful common space with high ceilings. My parents came to the last show along with a bunch of other Tuck Band parents. We had a little roped-off VIP area with champagne for them.

Last year, we put on a great show for Admitted Students Weekend. Afterward, multiple people came up to us and said they were musicians and didn’t realize Tuck had this opportunity; they were excited to come to Tuck and join the band. So, we kind of have a joke in the band that we helped yield for the class of 2024 by putting on a great show.

We want to perform as much as we can because we love it, and our classmates seem to really enjoy it. It’s just a gratifying and creative experience for everybody involved.

Calvin Garay

Calvin is from Baltimore, MD, and is a proud Chilean American. He went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where he studied economics, Spanish, and finance and thoroughly enjoyed the Nashville live music scene. After living in NYC and Colorado, he’s now loving his life at Tuck and will be joining the tech industry as a PM, living in Miami. Calvin is passionate about music, soccer, nature, and dogs.