Honours Music and Business, 2013

MatthewAlthough Matthew has played piano since he was a young child, it wasn’t until he was able to try his cousin’s drum set that he really connected to music. Since then his love for music has only grown.  Despite this when he first came to Waterloo Matthew was enrolled in Math, although it didn’t take too long before he realized this was not for him. Wanting to keep his co-op Matthew switched to Arts and Business, which allowed him to focus on his music while still keeping his co-op program. While in school, Matthew took percussion in studio, which allowed him to hone his craft.

Matthew enjoyed most the small size of Grebel, especially being in Arts and Business and regularly getting to be on main campus, where class sizes can reach the hundreds. The small atmosphere of the college fostered strong relationships between him and his professors. He could tell that the faculty truly cared about his welfare and wanted him to succeed, which in return he feels drove him to do his best in his course work. In addition, the flexibility of the program allowed him to pursue his co-op program, which he describes as a valuable learning experience. Although what he remembers best from his time at Grebel is his last studio jury. He often felt sick during them, but for this last time, he was feeling great and it showed in his playing. As well he recalls the happiness he got from playing something more his style, rather than a classical piece, his professor encouraged him to play a piece that would best show off his talent and one he would enjoy as well. From this last jury Matthew can remember clearly the happiness of his professors who enjoyed seeing him have fun. His experience at Grebel was enrichened by the relationships he was able to have with faculty, and Matthew feels that this is a strength of the program.

Matthew graduated in 2013 with a Bachelors of Arts in Honours Music and Business Co-op. Today Matthew is a full-time teacher with the Peel District School Board teaching music, business, and math at the high school level. Matthew still gets to enjoy various musical projects with his band Dan Daly, and still teaches private lessons where possible. He gets to use many of the things he learned at Grebel in his role as a teacher, where he makes use of all this music theory and history classes. However, the biggest influence of Grebel on his work is his acceptance of flexibility and his desire to start from the student’s interest and move forward from there.

Looking back at this time as a first year, Matthew has some advice for current and future students.  First, always practice, when you think you’re done, practice some more. “There is always some five-year-old kid on YouTube who can do it better than you.” Matthew says. What distinguishes you is how hard you work, and with every additional practice time, you will improve as a musician.  Waterloo is a place that emphasizes mutual support among students rather than competition among them, take that opportunity to get to know your peers and collaborate with them. These are the lessons that Matthew has taken with him into his current roles, and make him the excellent teacher that he is today.