Stoneman Douglas High School senior Ben Sparaco plays guitar on national tours, writes and plays music for his band, The Mind Manifest, and works at the School of Rock in Coral Springs, where he started as a student at the age of 10.
“My parents kind of raised me with music around the house,” the 17-year-old Sparaco said. “I got a guitar for my 4th birthday, and I have maybe put it down for one month since then.”
Sparaco, who owns six guitars, musically idolizes Duane Allman, a guitarist who co-founded The Allman Brothers Band.
Sparaco has played at the same concert as the Tedeschi Trucks Band as well as at the same concert as John Fogerty.
The School of Rock is a national corporation that, every summer, takes the top one to two percent of its students on a national tour as the School of Rock AllStars, who represent the top students from their network of schools.
The AllStars have performed at big events such as Lollapalooza in Chicago and Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut, and have shared the stage with artists such as Earl Slick, KT Tunstall, Slash, and Michael Anthony.
Last year, Sparaco toured with them for his second year where he played at Gathering of the Vibes with members of the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band.
“The first time I got picked I was really excited,” said Sparaco. “It was my first opportunity to play out of the area I normally play in, and I knew it would lead to a lot of opportunities to play around the country, even without being affiliated with School of Rock.”
Sparaco’s band, The Mind Manifest, performs mainly around Florida, but he also plays with friends around the country who ask to play with them. This past summer, he played 30 gigs in nine different states.
“I tend to play very improvisational music,” Sparaco said. “I can do whatever I want musically. There aren’t any rules with the type of music I play. Nobody can delete my playing after it’s been played, so if I do something that really says something, once it’s out there, it’s out there. That’s kind of the cool thing about music.”
After he graduates this year, Sparaco plans on moving to Nashville in July.
“The entire city is based around music. Specifically root and folk- oriented music, including blues, which is my thing- I play what would be described as psychedelic folk rock, so that’s the place to be.”
He intends on continuing with music throughout his life, and looks forward to the opportunities that it will bring him.
“Music is my life. It gives me the opportunity to meet people that I never would have otherwise, and I’ve been able to connect with them in a way that only musicians can- which is the whole essence behind playing music with other people.”
This story was reprinted with permission from the Stoneman Douglas High School newspaper, The Courier. See more of The Courier online at douglascourier.com.
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