Story and photo by Angela Howe-Decker

Ashland High School graduate knows what he wants for his future. This summer, the 18-year old musician and aspiring music engineer indulged his passion for music and found time for giving back. Renteria's mother, Janet, says her son introduced her to different types of music, "Ryan has opened my ears to music in a new way, and I'm very grateful for that," she said. Of her son's trip to Mexico to build homes in an impoverished village, she says she is immensely proud. "He never ceases to amaze me. My son is quiet and generous," she adds. The Daily Tidings spoke with about both his music and his summer of giving.

DT: How long have you been playing guitar?

Renteria: I've been playing about four years. I first heard Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, the guitar player. He's amazing. Ever since I heard him I wanted to be a guitar player.

DT: What do you like most about studying music?

Renteria: My favorite part is that there's not really a right or wrong. It doesn't matter what you do, it just matters how you feel.

DT: What do you like least about it?

Renteria: There really aren't any bad aspects to it. It's all fun, really. I'm not sitting down and practicing like most people would who dance or play classical piano. I'm just playing.

DT: Besides Led Zeppelin, who are your musical influences?

Renteria: I listen to a lot of jazz. Miles Davis is my favorite jazz artist, and definitely John Coltrane. Thelonius Monk is probably my favorite piano player.

DT: Do you play any other instruments?

Renteria: I try to play drums. If I had a drum set, I would play them all the time. Drums are a lot of fun, so I play them any chance I can get.

DT: How often and how long do you practice?

Renteria: I don't really practice. I'm just playing.

DT: Any advice for younger kids interested in a career in music?

Renteria: Just play. Learn as much as you can about music theory.

DT: Did you have a teacher who was particularly influential?

Renteria: Yes, my guitar teacher, Justin Wade. I never really thought I needed lessons. But from my first lesson, I've really learned a lot.

DT: What are your plans after you graduate high school?

Renteria: Next month, I'm auditioning for Berklee College of Music in Boston. I want to study music production and engineering. It's a great school for modern music and musicians. Eventually, I'd like to produce records or engineering, which is another aspect of a recording studio. Or do live sound, too. That's the person adjusting the sound while the musicians are playing in the recording studio.

DT: Is there an instrument you haven't tried, but would like to try some time?

Renteria: I'd like to try the saxophone or trumpet. I don't listen to a lot of guitar players. The only guitar player I listen to regularly is Wes Montgomery, but I listen to a lot of jazz artists such as Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. There are things that you just can't do on a guitar, but can get from a saxophone.

DT: You recently returned from a trip to Mexico with your church group. Can you talk about that?

Renteria: I went with my church, Ashland Christian Fellowship. We were a group of high schoolers, and we built a whole house in a week. It was a lot of manual labor, a lot of hard work, but at the end, we built a house. It was a lot of fun. I never really had to do that much manual labor, but it was pretty easy. I learned a lot about myself.

DT: Of all your accomplishments what are you most proud of?

Renteria: My band, Metaphase, finished our EP, which is like a short album. It's five songs, and it's all professionally recorded. I did a lot of the engineering. It's the four of us playing, all original music. You can hear the band on our MySpace page: /abovethemetaphor

DT: Tell us something about your family that makes you proud.

Renteria: My whole family has been really supportive. They never tell me I'm playing too loud or to do something else. They just stand behind me 100 percent. I don't think that I could do this without them.