Jameson Brenner takes advantage of musical opportunities

Jameson Brenner takes advantage of musical opportunities

THEN AND NOW: Young Jameson Brenner (left) developed a passion for the guitar. Currently, Brenner (right) participates in the GBS jazz ensemble, a student- run band, Zaramela, and on his own.

Mary Friedman, co-web editor

Through the hallways of the music department and various GBS productions, senior Jameson Brenner turns eyes with his unique sense of style and skills on the guitar. From his involvement in the GBS Music Department to the establishment of himself as a teacher, songwriter and band-mate, Brenner believes it is the journey of his musical career that brought him to where he is today.

His interest in the music world began at a young age when Brenner became jealous of his older brother Nick’s opportunity to join the elementary school band. Brenner’s father saw this fascination and decided to give Brenner the chance to explore his musical interests.

“My dad […] jumped at the opportunity and came home with a brand new guitar a week later to teach me ‘Smoke on the Water,’” Brenner explained. “It never would’ve started, though, if my dad didn’t bring home that guitar.”

According to Brenner, this desire to get involved with music was more than a temporary childhood wish, it was the early stages of a passion that has lasted for the rest of his life.

“It’s so much fun to do,” Brenner said.  “I just never get bored when I’m sitting with a guitar.  I just get immediately entertained.”

Brenner’s musical involvement at school began with the jazz ensemble, in which he has been participating every day before school since his freshman year. Other courses that Brenner has taken at GBS include Electronic Music, AP Music Theory, and independent study time, which involves working on solo compositions.

Throughout his life, Brenner has felt an attachment to other forms of art as well, including photography. However, he explained that his experience in the GBS Music Department brought him such enjoyment, he naturally narrowed his focus to music.

“Before [high school], I’ve never really considered music as my main interest because there’s a lot of other things I’m into,” Brenner said. “At this point, now, though, I can’t really do much else besides music and that’s because of the program at South. […] The music program at South made me almost entirely into it all.”

The young guitarist’s most memorable performance  was at the GBS Variety Show from his freshmen year when he accompanied senior Kris Hansen to perform their original song, “Don’t Fly Away.”

“It was so real,” Brenner said.  “As a freshman, I was so terrified and we had no idea if we were good or not.”

Brenner stressed that a developed good taste for a variety of music is just as valuable as being able to create it. Brenner explained that he learned this through his experience preparing for the Variety Show performance with Nick.

“[My brother] never considered himself a musician or anything and just enjoyed listening to music,” Brenner said. “He showed me half of my songs and has been a huge music lover. Anybody can do anything with music.”

Brenner explained that crafting a solid collection of sounds does not necessarily require skill, but, rather, a large amount of dedication.

“No matter who you are, straight up, the first time you put your fingers around the neck, it’s awkward,” Brenner said. The first time you push the strings down, it’s a challenge. “We build kalasses and also work to build muscle memory. […] If you put the time in and don’t get frustrated going note by note, then anyone can do it.”

When Brenner found himself spending a lot of time around other musicians as the role of a teacher, he decided to start offering organized instruction.

“There was an opportunity to make money, that’s why I started teaching,” Brenner said. “I’d been messing around and teaching stuff to friends who already play and then realized that I could probably make a job out of it without charging ridiculously overcharged prices like I’ve had to pay for. I charge less than half rate pretty much.”

Brenner’s committment to his band Zaramela makes it difficult to set aside hours for teaching.  The band is in their final stages of mixing a few of their recordings, and they are expecting to release them onto iTunes and Amazon in the near future.

Senior Josh Schwartz-Dodek, Zaramela saxophonist, described Brenner as the backbone of the band.

“When we write new songs, a lot of the times his guitar riffs are instrumental in coming up with the melody,” Schwartz-Dodek said.

Aaron Gamalinda, who plays trumpet for the crew, depends on Brenner when the band is struggling from a creative standpoint.

“When we hit these writing blocks, it’s usually up to Jameson to figure out a new direction because he sets the foundation for a lot of the songs,” Gamalinda said.

Schwartz-Dodek described Brenner as the one who challenges the band to reach a level better than simply just “good enough.”

“When we’re in the studio, Jameson is really comfortable, yet, at the same time, he understands how important the work is and tries to get everything perfect,” Schwartz-Dodek said. “He doesn’t stop doing takes until he gets it completely right, which although we like to joke about is actually a really good quality in his studio ethic.”

With graduation slowly approaching, Brenner faces a decision on whether he should continue his educational journey in college, or get into the studios right away.  If Brenner decides to put his college experience on hold, he would seek music internships with recording studios and work on contracts already made.

“Most of the people successful in the music business now came from hard work as an intern getting coffee and you work your way up,” Brenner said. “Once people realize your value, that’s when you can get a job out of it.”