Spotlight on Southtown: Jack of All Trades

It’s 8:00 a.m. at Sam Houston High School and the words, ‘hello,’ sleepily escape from peoples’ mouths.  The quiet energy barely has time to settle before a firecracker comes flying in; it’s Jack Schneider. Shaggy blonde hair unbrushed, Casio watch broken - but still useful for his timed meditations - Schneider nonchalantly rolls his bicycle into the school. He shoots a giant, disarming smile and exclaims, “Good morning!” loud enough that Lydia’s Taco Shop down the street can hear.

Schneider, 22, is a songwriter, full-time school volunteer, and is getting ready to release his e.p. this fall.

A D.C. native, Schneider has been playing and writing music for most of his life. While he can frequently be seen playing the saxophone at Alamo Street Eat Bar and around southtown (his red flannel fedora is hard to miss), he also plays the piano, flute and guitar. He learned the latter while living in Egypt for five years, while his father,a journalist, was covering the Middle East at the time. “I got to ride horses at the pyramids, travel to Oases, and one time I got chased by a camel,” Schneider recalled, blue eyes unflinching.

He crafted his musical skills throughout high school, where he made his first “album,”  consisting of six songs about his first heartbreak.  A music composition major at Bates College, Schneider was a part of the a capella group, “The Manic Optimists.” Schneider released most of the songs on their cd, “Post Chordal Bliss,” slated for release this month. He was also a part of a band at Bates called “Love Tap” and he’s working with four of the members on his upcoming untitled e.p.

“I’m leaning towards a folky feel, music you want to tap your foot to and rub your stomach rhythmically,” Schneider added. “... I want to have a cd that I can give to people and say , ‘this is what I’m about.’”

Aside from music, another issue Schneider feels strongly about is environmentalism. He’s currently leading a  project at Sam Houston  to create a sustainable courtyard and garden, something that first captured his interest at Bates. “...The waste of the food [at school] is what really got me,” Schneider said. “ I would eat stuff off the conveyer belt and eat others’ scraps before I got my own plate at college.”  His enthusiasm for environmental consciousness doesn’t stop there; he bikes 15 miles to and from school in an effort  to exercise, save on gas and reduce his carbon footprint.

Schneider was placed at Sam Houston High School through a national non profit organization called City Year. He volunteers full-time 60 hours a week tutoring and mentoring freshmen. “City Year has been challenging, inspiring, overwhelming, enlightening, and it’s definitely shaped the way I continue to live,” Schneider explains. “It’s given me good direction in terms of music. The past few songs I’ve written have been with the goal in mind giving a voice to high school students.”

His work at the high school and time in San Antonio have allowed him to harmonize his passions in environmentalism, education and music. “ It’s a lot more powerful when you tie those things together. People want to make a difference. People want to help out. If you can inform people through a medium of a catchy tune you can appreciate the art on two different levels.”

Keep updated with Jack Schneider on his Facebook page:

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