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Junior Ryan Egan uses STEM courses to pursue a career in music

January 23, 2019


Maria Newton

Strumming his guitar and singing into the microphone, junior Ryan Egan performs with his band The Brink STL at last year’s benefit concert. Egan has been playing concerts in the St. Louis area for four years. “I love performing,” Egan said. “It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy playing in front of a crowd and just playing music in general. I hope to release some music so that I can spread my messages of positivity, perseverance and dedication.”

What kind of art are you interested in?

I play in a band called The Brink STL. I’ve been playing guitar for eight years, and I’ve been playing gigs and concerts around St. Louis for the past four years. We play a little bit of everything. We play covers of pop bands like Panic! at the Disco and The Killers, but we also play classic rock and everything in between. I write a lot of originals and I’m trying to get people on board with that, but I’m having a hard time finding musicians who have time to learn and play originals.

What career are you pursuing?

I’m looking into engineering and trying to find a way to incorporate music with engineering. I want to pursue something like audio engineering which is designing and working to make sure that sound is getting through an auditorium. I’m interested in designing guitars and other equipment, and I hope that I can perform my music as a professional musician, but the industry is tough. I’d really like to be successful and have people care about music. I’d like to change somebody’s life with music because being able to influence is really important to me. I think that having a platform is unique because it’s something that can be subtle. Being a musician, your ideas will never be forced onto anyone, people choose to listen to it. Music can be listened to at any time and there are lots of opportunities to speak your mind freely and have others relate to you.

How much time do you spend on music outside of school?

I haven’t taken any guitar courses at school because I’ve been taking private lessons once a week for quite a while. People say that to be a master at your craft you need to put in 10,000 hours and I would say that I’ve at least put in that much of practicing skills, writing songs and playing music.

How do you balance music and academics?

I’ve never been able to fit music into my school schedule, it’s always been something that I’ve had to make time for outside of school. Time commitment and the balance between academics and music can be really difficult. There is music, on one hand, that you want to take seriously, but not a lot of people are supporting you, but, on the other hand, academics is something everyone feels like they need and are inclined to because it’s a safer route than the arts.

Do you think that the school provides adequate courses in music?

There are a lot of courses at the school that are teaching how to read music and how to start with music, but, unless you’re really interested in music and have the drive and the passion to learn it yourself and work outside of school, music can feel like a homework assignment. Even if you are interested in music, it can feel stressful at first, but it should eventually become something that you enjoy. It shouldn’t be something that you feel like you have to do because you’re taking a class that doesn’t make you feel passionate about music. School courses don’t do a very good job of conveying the passion that a lot of artists feel about music.

Do you think that the school places pressure on students to pursue academics rather than art?

I’m glad that my counselor provides recommendations for STEM style courses because it does give me an opening into the safer route. There are art schools that I’m getting emails from about music, but I like that I have the safety of STEM courses to back me up. STEM courses are a great way to ensure that I can get into college, where I can pursue music. The hope is that I can pursue music through high school and college and make something of it so that I don’t have to have a standard day job. I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing everyday and I don’t think there are many others who want that either.

Does the school provide a safe environment for you to pursue music?

At the school there is definitely a lot of peer pressure to play sports, but I think that everyone should just do what they want to do regardless of what their peers think. Sometimes I feel underestimated by my peers because I prefer arts over sports, but I try to focus on my craft and remind myself that those people never have malicious intent. I try to look at the best of the things.

What advice would you give to other aspiring musicians?

Keep going with your dreams, keep trying, keep learning. Reach out to as many people as you can. There are going to be people that will laugh at you and give you trouble about your passion, but you should just keep going and give it your best shot.

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