Music as a journey through life: A conversation with Max Weiner

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By Tuesday, May 27 Arts & Entertainment, Learning  2 Comments
Max Weiner at the double bass during a performance by the Max Weiner Quartet at Dewey Hall in Sheffield.

Great Barrington –– In the 1968 hit song, “Piece of My Heart,” Janice Joplin, the lead singer with Big Brother & the Holding Company, belts out these lyrics: “You know you got it when it makes you feel good.” It’s not very often you get to meet someone who has such an undying love for what he does that you can actually feel it. But Max Weiner is one of those kids. His passion for music resonates throughout and for him. Music is what he’s got and it makes him feel good.

Max is a musician whose repertoire consists of the electric bass guitar, acoustic upright bass, a drum kit, a collection of percussive instruments, the piano, and the guitar which he’s able to keep up with.

But he most feels at home with any bass instrument.

For Max, the journey hasn’t been one of soul searching, but one forged in the discovery of a love for music and the determination to always get better.

“Working to get better at my music means I can achieve more,” he explains. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s exponential growth.  The better you get, the more you realize you have so much more distance to climb,” he says. “Music is a journey though life and I’ve just started to realize that”.

And he’s not concerned about making money with his music — not yet, anyways. “I am willing to take other jobs for short periods of time. As long as I am still able to play music,” he notes.

A senior in Monument Mountain Regional High School, Max Weiner got his start in music at the age of nine. It was an experience at Camp Becket during the summer that changed everything for him.

There was a plethora of classes to take, he recalls.

“They had a class there called School of Rock, which was the camp’s music program,” he said. “I was not into music at that point. I was sailing, shooting bows and arrows, rock climbing and being a boy.”

Halfway through the camp session, the kids in School of Rock put on a performance that immediately caught Max’s attention.

“Their band probably wasn’t even that good, but their bass player was just jamming out and he sounded really good and I was just standing there, watching this, rooted in the ground, watching this dude play bass,” he said. Then, it occurred to him: “Damn, that’s something I really want to do and try out and pursue”.

After coming home from camp that summer, everything came together.

“Timing was everything,” he said. At that point a tenant who just so happened to be a bass player was coming to live with his family.  Then, Max’s dad began working at a company that produced online music lessons.

“Inspiration, knowledge, it’s pretty amazing it all came together,” he remarked. But despite all the good fortunes of everything coming together, he doesn’t believe it was fate: “I consider it luck but I think I would’ve found music anyway and gotten to a point where I am now. Maybe not the same point but a point like where I am now. I know it’s something inside of me that is fundamental. I just got really lucky.”

From there, he kept experimenting with music and different kinds of instruments. He had a band in middle school called Corsair, and began to become heavily influenced by bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. “I was just exploring music and getting really into it,” he says.

One of the crucial influences that helped shape Max’s development as a musician has been his work with Monument Mountain’s band instructor Jeffrey Stevens.

“It’s been great working with Max throughout,” Stevens said. “It’s always a thrill for teachers to see someone embrace what you’re teaching. It’s nothing that we did; it’s something inside of him.”

Max Wiener, up against the wall at Monument Mountain Regional High School. Photo by Jacob Robbins.

Max Weiner, up against the wall at Monument Mountain Regional High School. Photo by Jacob Robbins.

In fact, it was the strength of Monument Mountain’s music program that persuaded Max, who lives in Lenox, to school choice in, so he could develop his skills. He was able to hone his craft by participating in the school’s band as well as joining the student-based band, “The Interlopers.”

“Being in that band is what really started my pursuit of a professional music career,” he explains. “There’s a lot to be said, learning how to work with people, learning the ins and outs of the music business.”

Ironically, he found that he wasn’t nervous being on stage, but he was nervous performing with and before his friends.

“I felt like I had to prove myself,” he said, “but then I realized these guys are also my friends.”

In the fall, Max will attend the prestigious Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio to study music.

Getting into Oberlin has in some degree justified Max’s focus on becoming a musician, a career path that some of his fellow classmates considered unconventional.

“People would automatically assume I wasn’t as smart as them or as intelligent as them because I didn’t take AP or honors classes,” he said. “I had a passion I wanted to pursue instead, because I can’t really see myself doing anything else and being happy.”

While the life of a musician can have its ups and downs, Max’s parents have been incredibly supportive, he said.

“They’d be psyched about anything I was enthusiastic about. It just happened to be music,” he added.

Max hopes to grow to become an even more versatile musician.

“I think being successful is doing what you love, intensely,” he believes. “Whether you’re making money, well, it’s nice to live off it but the amount isn’t at all what’s important.”

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2 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Laury epstein says:

    What an interesting article! Best luck to this aspiring musician.

  2. Suzi Banks Baum says:

    Max- you are amazing and a great example of living your dreams right now…not putting them off til later. Best of luck at Oberlin. I have several great friends and one of my most beloved choral teachers who graduated from Oberlin. You are going to expand like crazy. I look forward to hearing your music develop. Thanks to Jacob too, for great reporting.
    xo Suzi

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