Benny Benack III, Class of 2009
- Bachelor’s degree in Jazz from the Manhattan School of Music, 2013
- Master’s degree in Music from the Manhattan School of Music, 2015
Current Town/City: New York City
What is your current occupation/employer? Freelance Musician
How did your experiences at Upper St. Clair help you to reach your educational and/or professional goals?
Educationally, I feel like at USC with all of our incredible teachers they prepare you for what's coming next. You can really see that when you get to college and some of the others students aren't as well prepared. For instance, when I went to music school I never felt like I didn’t know how to correctly format an essay to submit to grant or write music. Essentially, the foundations I learned at USC were still important and valuable when I went to college.
Speaking professionally, USC has a great arts and band program. Being able to be in the jazz band, wind ensemble, musical and doing the morning announcements was big for me as a performer. Having all of these different opportunities for the arts that a lot of schools don’t was a big advantage.
What was the most valuable lesson that you learned while a student at Upper St. Clair
For me, during my junior and senior year because it was my first experience as both a freelance artist and a busy student. I was freelancing while going to school so I had to basically make my own schedule and try to balance all of the opportunities I had as a student. Upper St. Clair gave me plenty of opportunities to be a musician, but I had the opportunity to do gigs and had to honor my commitment as a student, or athlete, or being in a musical and that was difficult to manage. Today, this is something that happens on a daily basis and began when I was back at Upper St. Clair.
What is your fondest memory during your time at Upper St. Clair?
Definitely, getting to do the musicals and that began my freshman year when I was one of the leads. If I had to pick just one musical, it has to be my junior year for Singing in the Rain. I had to learn how to tap dance and that was quite an adventure. It was just really a cool moment to be in that auditorium and be the star of the show.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
I wish this interview was in another five years and I could mention a grammy or something really cool, but to this point it would be debuting my first solo album in September.
Is there anyone in particular who had a major impact on you during your time at Upper St. Clair? Please share who and how he/she made a difference in your life.
To single out one particular person is very difficult. I would have to go right down the line to all of the band directors. All of band directors were very important because I knew early on I wanted to focus on music and they helped me do that. So I want to make sure I recognize each one.
- Streams - Jim Bennett
- Boyce - Sam Hazo
- Fort Couch - Glenn Wayland
- High School - Frank Eisenriech
Describe Upper St. Clair in three words
Tradition - Community - Excellence
What advice do you have for current Upper St. Clair students?
Don’t assume the world is going to bend to the way you want it. Basically, the people that are successes in any fields are not always the most accomplished, or talented, or have the best resumes. A lot of times the people that are willing to hustle and do the small things and put in the extra effort are the successful ones. Especially when you come from a place like USC with a lot of very talented people you will have to always think of how you can hustle and work on something new.