The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 8, 2024

English teacher Nick Confino brings fans to bands

The band U-Melt largely played at smaller venues until one momentous day: the Mountain Jam festival in 2010. Midway through the concert, they looked out at a stadium packed with 15,000 screaming fans rocking out to the music — all thanks to English teacher Nick Confino.

“I’m sitting there on the side of the stage looking out and thinking, ‘I made this happen,’” Confino said. “Everyone is jamming out and I am the one that made this connection; I brought this together.”

Thirty-two-year-old Confino began a profession in the music industry as an assistant road manager for a different band, Umphrey’s McGee, in 2005. He eventually became a booking agent and consultant for many underground rock bands.

Confino’s passion for music drove him to leave his job as a lobbyist for the Clean Water Initiative in California and enter the music industry. His work as a road manager began when he started helping his musician friends with the business aspects of their careers.

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“Part of what was interesting to me is that I could use my knowledge in the business world and apply it to my passion,” Confino said. “The combination of the two provided a lot of growth for me as an individual and for my career.”

As a road manager, Confino spent most of the year traveling with different bands while they were on tour. His responsibilities ranged from working to keep conflicted bands from breaking up to arriving early at venues for stage setup to making sure every show ran smoothly.

Later, Confino shifted to booking or arranging venues for bands. The change allowed him to stay in the music industry while avoiding the fast-paced life that comes with touring. Working from home as a booking agent enabled Confino to develop a passion he had picked up during his college years: teaching.

In college, Confino had worked on a program for the Maryland State Department, in which participants taught Balkan students public speaking and debate skills. He loved teaching, but didn’t see it as a career at that time. As his career in the music industry was winding down, he decided that he would love to work with high school students again.

Confino visited many schools in Montgomery County because of its strong public school system. Once he found Whitman, he knew it was the right fit for him and his teaching style.

“Dr. Goodwin was another reason why I wanted to teach here,” Confino said. “I knew he was the type of principal I could grow with because of the strong, positive learning environment he created.”

Confino now works in a consulting role with bands to allow more time to focus on teaching. Nonetheless, he still plays a role in catering to the needs of musicians: agents still call him and ask him to route a tour, talk to a promoter or resolve issues within their band. Once summer comes and the season picks up again, Confino will attend about 15 festivals all over the country to scout new bands. At the peak of his summer season, he can work with around eight bands, he said.

In class, Confino maintains a casual attitude, sharing stories about his experience and the lessons he’s learned in the music industry. The stories help him connect the classroom to the real world and develop a stronger connection with his students, he said.

Sophomore Sarah Friedman relies on Confino for help with her club, Spread the Song, where students go to charitable organizations like nursing homes and soup kitchens to perform musical talent shows.

“I frequently ask him for advice as to how to handle anything from booking an event to song choices,” Friedman said. “In general, he always backs me up, which makes my job in the club so much easier.”

Remarkably enough, Confino’s ever-evolving career path isn’t inspired by a musician or famous band manager, but rather from historical figure Benjamin Franklin, who has inspired him to juggle his jobs as a teacher and a booking agent, he said.

“He had his hand in so many different fields of work and was always successful in them,” Confino said. “He saw something wrong, applied his knowledge and improved upon it and that is what steered me into music.”

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