Music teacher rocks by example with ‘Songs for a Lonely Night’

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First Posted: 1/12/2015

If you’re old enough to remember when Jack Black used to be funny, then you’re of age to remember “School of Rock”, a movie about a struggling rock singer turned substitute teacher who forms an unlikely band with his students. Sure, the movie was a little far-fetched, with his character assembling the group of students so he could compete in a Battle of the Bands to win rent money and all, but moviegoers were left wishing they, too, had a music teacher like Black.

Think about it.

Who wouldn’t want a rock star for a teacher?

Students at Lakeland High School in Scott Township don’t have to wish their teacher to be like Black because there teacher is Bryan Brophy of Olyphant, a local rock musician who just released a new album.

The Lakeland chorus director, who also serves as assistant marching band director and musical director for the drama club at the high school, recalled the impact of having a working musician for a music teacher had on him growing up.

“When I went to Lakeland, my music teacher was Frank Santoro. He was a great piano player who was a working jazz musician. Knowing that he was a working musician helped give me the confidence to do what I wanted to do, because I saw a teacher and a mentor doing it himself,” Brophy said.

Having filled his teacher’s shoes, Brophy is proudly carrying the legacy of providing music education to his students and showing them that it is possible to work as a musician.

“Most of the music teachers I know are also working musicians, but they’re more classical musicians or jazz musicians, where I’m playing rock and roll and modern songs that the students are more likely to relate to,” Brophy said.

That rock and roll, modern sound can be heard in his latest album, “Songs for a Lonely Night”, under the project name An Autumn Sunrise, which Brophy describes as a variety of pop-punk, post hardcore, screamo and acoustic.

“The reason I call ‘An Autumn Sunrise’ a project is because when you listen to the album it sounds like a full band, but I’m playing all of the instruments through separate recordings,” said Brophy, who uses his acquired skills in vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano and percussion on the album project.

The concept for a project featuring only his musical talent came from the struggle to put together a band in college, Brophy said.

“I wanted to put together a full band 10 years ago. But when I started it, we were all freshman in college. We kept going through guitar and drummer changes and almost every time we practiced, it seemed I had to teach someone new the songs, so I got tired of that and just decided to write and record music on my own,” he said.

Brophy performs live acoustic performances of his music, occasionally enlisting the help of his friends in the local music community for a full-band experience.

“Mike Lesnesky sometimes performs bass with me while Jimmy Reynolds will play drums and Matt Rinkunas will jump on guitar. It’s important to include local musicians, too, because there are so many talented artists in this area. It would be a huge injustice to never give them notoriety,” Brophy said.

The “Songs for a Lonely Night” musician also enlists the help of local sound engineers for his endeavors.

“This is the ‘do it yourself’ age. I recorded the album in my basement, but I always make sure that local sound engineers have a hand in the project somehow,” said Brophy, who has had recordings remastered at places like SI Studios in Old Forge or Twenty Five Eight Studios in Scranton.

Supporting others is in the industry is only one of the lesson the music teacher passes on to his students.

“I have students who are talented vocalists, drummers, guitar players, you name it. I always tell them to be heavily involved with social media to get their music out there, to make sure that when you do something, write press releases to newspapers and just do whatever it takes to get your name out there and not to stop,” Brophy said.

The local artist said that he feels he did his job when a student with a passion for making music tells him that they listened to his album and is given the confidence to pursue their musical ambitions from knowing they have a teacher who knows the struggles of working as a musician and how to work through them, just as he did as a music student.

Brophy’s album, “Songs for a Lonely Night” is now available on I-Tunes.