Authority that plays weddings and events throughout the area.
“Music is hard work; you have to put in the hours,” Asti said.
That was part of the truth of the music business Rieger imparted during “the talk” he had with Asti.
“If anything, my parents were almost too supportive,” Asti said with a laugh. “They said if music was what I wanted to do I should go for it. Louis was the one who sat me down and gave me ‘the talk.’ He told me what it can take and what to expect. He helped to bring a touch of reality to the passion and to help me find a balance.”
A musician himself, Rieger has also been a music scout for Sony and Empire records, he’s an advisor for the Rotary Club’s talent contest and he is the proprietor of High Street Music Co. which offers more than just lessons.
With a fully functional studio, High Street music is also a place where students can learn the technical end of recording and producing music.
That’s where Austin Mora’s interests lie.
One of two Pottstown seniors to win a Wilson Scholarship this year, his education at Lebanon Valley College will be paid for by the scholarship.
A trombone player and also a student of Rieger’s, Mora will study music production at the college, following in the footsteps of Jeff Vontour, a Pottstown High School alum who was a Wilson Scholarship recipi- Left to right Matthew Asti, Louis Rieger, Austin Mora and Marley Bryan are all at various stages of a music career begun or undertaken in Pottstown. ent last year and is enrolled ond Wilson Scholarship winThe amount of the scholin the same curriculum. ner this year, music is somearship was based on his au
The two also played tothing “I’ve been surrounded dition. “That really surprised gether in Pottstown High by since I was little.” me,” he said. School’s marching band, In sixth grade he started Rieger said poise and concert band and jazz band. playing wind instruments precision in front of judges,
“I guess I got interested in and in seventh grade, he was “how you approach people ninth grade,” said Mora. playing the bass clarinet. and performance, how you
High School Music De“The band teacher, Mr. work with groups,” are all partment Chairman Michael (Ben) Hayes, said ‘ you factors that must be taken Vought “had this program can’t play the bass clariinto account when embarkon the computer called ‘Mix net in marching band’ and ing on a career in music, Craft.’ Honestly it is about he handed me a tenor saxoand things he tries to teach the worst composition tool phone,” said Bryan. his students beyond the meI’ve ever found, but I got Already a student of chanics of their instrument pretty good at it.” Reiger’s, Bryan really took and the fostering of raw tal
Mora saident.hebegantore-tothetenorsaxophone,as alize all of the different ways his own award at the Rotary nd that can sometimes his interest could be utilized. Club Talent contest and nuget lost in a larger classroom, “It’s not just straight up mumerous soloist awards at jazz he said. sic, it’s commercials and band competitions this year Students who excel in mumovie soundtracks.” can attest. sic may not always be iden
Thanks to High Street In addition to the Wilson tified early “or they don’t Music Co., he will enter colScholarship, Bryan also reget the support they need to lege knowing more about ceived a $3,000 scholarship nurture their talent,” Rieger that end of the business than from West Chester Universaid. most. sity where he will major in But their chances of get
For Marley Bryan, the sec- music. ting the support they need are improved in Pottstown by two programs, Rieger said.
The Wilson Family Music Scholarship, established by Pottstown’s first band director Harvey Wilson, provides scholarships to Pottstown High School seniors who have been in the music program and are pursuing a career in music or the arts.
“Harvey lived very frugally and when he died, he left half his estate to the Pottstown School District to establish a scholarship for students to further their music education,” said High School Music Department Chairman Michael Vought.
Wilson left the other half of his estate to his sister, Phoebe Sime.
When she died, she left a portion of her estate to the district in the Phoebe Sime Trust.
In addition to paying for 75 percent of the cost of music lessons for Pottstown students who may not be able to afford them otherwise; the trust also helps pay for transportation - everything from bus trips to band cavalcades to helping with the cost of the semi-annual trips to Walt Disney World.
The fund also paid to refurbish and replace the equipment in the sound studio at the high school, enabling a course in sound recording and engineering to be instituted at the high school, Vought said.
Acknowledging that is unusual for a town the size of Pottstown to have such resources available for its music program, it makes sense when you look at Pottstown’s history, Vought said.
“I mean think about it. For a town the size of Pottstown to have its own symphony orchestra for as long as we did, that says something about Pottstown,” he said.
“I give credit to all the great teachers we’ve had in this district, to Mike Snyder, to Porter Eidam, to Chuck Dressler. They all taught me more than I ever learned in school,” said Vought.
But there are some present day teachers who may soon fill their shoes, Vought said.
“I’m really proud of this program and I’m going to miss this senior class, they had a lot of talent,” he said. “And not to take anything away from the this year’s sophomore and juniors, but Ben Hayes tells me he’s got some seventh and eighth grade kids coming up who are as good or better.”
Rieger also praised Hayes, as have others who have heard his middle school students in recent years, saying “he is doing a fantastic job and I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of middle school students with a lot of talent coming up in the next few years.”
But even with help like this available, a career in music can be a challenge, as Asti can attest.
“I was lucky to find work in music, literally as soon as I got out of school,” he said.
As for Bryan, he plans to follow in some of those Pottstown footsteps and pursue a career in music education as well as to keep playing.
After all, as the new graduate noted, “music has always been a part of my life and its something you carry with you all your life.”
And you can quote him on that.
FULL DISCLOSURE: The author’s son is in the Pottstown music program and is a student of Rieger’s.