Belgrade High School senior David Oster makes a habit of educating himself, and he hopes his chosen career will provide a vehicle for him to inspire others to do the same.
The self-taught guitarist and songwriter, who says he decided to “get serious” about music only two years ago, was accepted to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. He will begin his studies next year in Valencia, Spain, where Berklee operates a study-abroad program, designed in part to further students’ understanding of multiple worldviews and experiences.
That resonates with Oster’s determination to make music that influences others “to educate themselves about how their actions and attitudes affect others.” Like one of his favorite artists, rapper Kendrick Lamar, Oster tries to say things through his music that artists don’t necessarily say.
Already, Oster says his friends “see something” in his songs, which address such societal and personal issues as racism, sexism, confidence and living by one’s own standards instead of trying to please others.
“Music is life, even though it’s entertainment,” he says.
Though he just recently turned 18, Oster has learned a lot of those lessons for himself, while at the same time developing a strong sense of self and independent spirit.
“My songs are the musical embodiment of myself,” he says.
The desire to “be a man of my own craft” is leading Oster toward a career in music production, where he wants to do everything from recording artists to mixing sound to adding effects in the studio.
It’s a specialty where he can constructively channel his innate perfectionism and exercise the independence that has contributed to his success, he explains.
“Through production, I can do my own thing,” he says. “I taught myself, and I want to keep it that way.”
Oster moved with his family to Belgrade about two years ago from Great Falls, leaving behind his best friend, a drummer, who also aspires to a career in music. (Oster says that friend also has been accepted to Berklee for next year.)
When he started thinking about applying to the highly selective school, Oster says he didn’t feel he was in the same league as his talented friend, but decided to “put everything on the table at my audition. If I wasn’t accepted, I wasn’t meant to go.”
Due to his background in jazz guitar, he chose a rendition of the jazz standard “All of Me” for his in-person audition in Vancouver, B.C. His video submissions included himself performing Spanish song, an original composition, and even an operatic solo. His efforts paid off, proving to himself that “if you want something, you have to get it,” and to his family “that music really is my thing.”
Oster’s favorite genres are Hip Hop, R&B and Latin music, and he is excited about the opportunity to learn more about the latter while in Spain. He also looks forward to being fully immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture, though he has been exposed to the language by Spanish-speaking relatives, in classes at school, and at his job at the Mexican market in Four Corners.
Before then, he hopes to have the opportunity to share his talent with the public in the greater Belgrade-Bozeman area, and encourages anyone interested in being a sponsor or in providing a performance venue to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.