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Leader of the Band

Carl Hamilton '21

Carl Hamilton '21 

Carl Hamilton ’21 (classical studies, music) has a taste for the classics, but he also knows how to rock. He discusses his favorite course and professor so far, and what he’s learned as leader of Carl and the Hamiltones, a jazz sextet that plays big band, swing, be-bop and classic rock.


Lansdale, Pa.


Classical studies and music (intended).

Clubs and organizations:  

WDCV, College Republicans and Dickinson College Orchestra, Jazz Band and Jazz Combo.


John Dickinson Scholarship, John David Wright Memorial Prize, Eta Sigma Phi, Alpha Lambda Delta and Sigma Alpha Phi.

Favorite book:

Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Favorite movie:

Citizen Kane.

Favorite class/learning experience:

Professor [of Classical Studies Christopher] Francese's Latin Satire Class. We read Latin authors of satire along with general articles on theories of satire. By having a broad outline of the genre, we can discover the often murky meanings of satiric writing better than if had we not read the theory.

Favorite place on campus:

Outside, on the Academic Quad.

Favorite Dining Hall food:


Favorite professor (and why):  

Professor Francese. I had him last fall for a class about Roman historians, and also in the spring for Latin Satire. His passion for Latin goes beyond mere academic curiosity, toward engagement with the ancients as real people with real, intricate lives. He places a particular emphasis on recognizing how ancient and modern culture differ, which makes us look discriminately at whatever we are reading.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …  

… Homer.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… a screenwriter.

On forming a band:

I've been playing drums in earnest since I was in fifth grade.  I started the group [Carl and the Hamiltones] in ninth grade to play at my middle school's Olympic Day. We played pop and rock songs for that performance. We play a few shows a year for the local farmers market, which we have done for four summers, and we also play fundraisers and have a yearly gig at a local retirement home and a condo community.

On keeping 'em guessing:

In our senior year we went back to rock, winning our high school talent show with an unhinged playing of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Smash Mouth's "All-Star," and performing a 12-man rendition Springsteen's "Born to Run"  at our senior sendoff. Our latest endeavor was recording a cover of Bruce's "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" as an audition for the White House's Christmas entertainment. All these performances are on YouTube.

The greatest thing about my group is that we are not a rigid band, so I can call a wide network of players for whatever the needs of the gigs are and we can play all styles, not simply straight jazz. (By my count 27 people have played under the Hamiltones name).

What I’ve learned through this experience:

By being the bandleader, I've learned how to maintain and enhance the cohesion of the group while still maintaining the control to take us in my own musical direction. It helps that all my players are great friends and have a similar dedication to putting forth their best performances for the group and for themselves.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I love transcribing and arranging songs for my jazz band, Carl and the Hamiltones, to play. While most groups have each person individually learn the chords, putting the song to sheet music allows me to detail every little line or phrase and to insert my own changes to make the arrangement my own. It is very satisfying to have the full score for a song completed and ready to hand out.

How I define “useful education”:

“Useful” is whatever gets you where you are going. At Dickinson there are sundry opportunities to get involved with whatever it is you want to do. For me, with classics and music, Dickinson is for sure a “useful” school.

In a perfect world …

People would only watch TV for sports. Netflix and all that passive garbage would be eliminated.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I hope to go to graduate school, get my doctorate in classics and become a professor.

Read more Student Snapshots.



Published September 26, 2018