Hess preforms for crowd of thousands


Courtesy of Beardfest

Ricky Hess (’23) plays the keyboard at the Beardfest music festival last June

Most 12-year-olds would be scared to death playing in front of 16,000 people at the Penn State Arena. But, for Ricky Hess (‘23), this was just another night where he got the opportunity to make music with his two brothers, Jon and Joey.
Growing up in a musical family, Ricky has always been someone who loved the stage.
“I never feel more comfortable or happy than when I’m on a stage,” said Hess. “I am someone who enjoys attention. That’s probably partially why I went into music.”
From a young age, all three brothers have been enchanted by music. But this passion didn’t develop from their parents or music teachers. Jon, the eldest,
discovered his passion for music through a Nickelodeon television show.
“It’s a funny story really,” said Hess. “My oldest brother Jon really liked the show ‘Drake and Josh, so he wanted to play guitar but then got really into it, which then led to my other
older brother Joey getting into it, which led to me getting into it, all at a very young age.”
From there, each brother was able to explore the instrument that called to them. The guitar called to Jon. While Ricky was originally interested in the drums, he discovered his true talent lay with the keyboard, which he plays today.
Before the age of ten, they formed a band called the Hess Brothers. After establishing a solid foundation at The School of Rock, a local music school, and making their way through the music programs at Sharp Elementary School, Beck Middle School and Cherry Hill High School
East, the brothers began to develop their own music tastes as well.
Ricky himself specializes in jazz fusion when playing on his own, which sounds reminiscent of video game music. He compromises his preferred musical genre when playing with his brothers or the other band he accompanies frequently, Gnarbot.
The brothers still continue to play together, but they have also ventured into their own individual projects. While Jon and Joey play frequently in wedding bands and attend the University of the Arts, Ricky is focused on continuing to develop his craft both in the East Music department and beyond.
Even before entering high school, Ricky was able to develop a solid music foundation in middle school with the help of band teacher Mr. Steven Marr.
“Mr. Marr sincerely might be one of the greatest people that has ever existed,” said Hess. “He is someone who was definitely very inspiring to my brothers and me. We all very much look up to him. Jon saw him as a role model for how to shape his life especially.”

Hess preforms a solo at the Electric Forest music festival (Courtesy of Ricky Hess)

At East, Ricky is a member of the jazz band and is constantly pushed by Mr. Tim Keleher and Ms. Gia Walton, East’s music directors.
“I often feel pretty grateful for the school music program,” said Hess. “It’s not that common that you can walk into high school and know you’re going to learn something really valuable about your instrument.”
Outside of East, Ricky has been able to perform at gigs all over the country. The School of Rock in Cherry Hill allowed him to make connections in order to book more gigs as he got
This past summer, Ricky was able to play at the Electric Forest music festival in Michigan, a rock and jazz festival that is attended by over 40,000 people.
With playing at gigs at least once a week and being a part of the jazz band at East, Ricky’s schedule during the school year is especially hectic.
“There will be one day where I step onto a big stage a few hours away and there’s hundreds of people in front of me, many of which know my name already,” said Hess. “It’s interesting to be the center of attention and [to] do something big and then the next day I have to do well on a calculus test.”
Dealing with academics, music and the anxieties that come with managing both can be daunting for a teenager. But for Ricky, music isn’t only a high school job, a hobby to do with his brothers or a future career. For Ricky, it is a coping mechanism.
“I started writing my own music because I felt bad about things in life as a whole,” said Hess. “And then when I started writing more and figuring my own self out more, that’s when I realized: one, I’m happy, and two, I never want to stop doing music– like
The East community can be on the lookout for more from the Hess Brothers,
especially Ricky, in the future. Currently, Ricky is working on composing and producing music for his Spotify account.
In the future, after studying music in college, Ricky hopes to become a composer for movies or video games. Currently, he is working with a small indie video game company to de-
sign audio for their games. Whatever comes of the future, Ricky always hopes to keep music as a central part of his life.
“It was just fun at first but now it’s my job, it’s my passion, it’s my coping mechanism, it’s my dreams. It is every single aspect of my life,” said Hess.