Martin Connor '08
In addition to taking challenging courses, Prep students also participate in extra-curricular and athletic activities, thus receiving a well-rounded education. Some of those clubs and sports include the musical ensembles that Mr. Matthew Schwartz '02 has established in his first few years as the head of the Prep's music program.
Mr. Schwartz is the reason for the Prep music program's recent growth. More than a few students in the school’s musical ensembles will attest to this. Mike Do '14, when asked to name his favorite part of the Prep's program, said reflexively, “Mr. Schwartz!” Mike, who plays guitar and saxophone, has gotten one-on-one instruction from Mr. Schwartz not just during school hours in the Music Theory class (one of two music classes offered at the Prep, along with Music Appreciation). Mike has also received lessons in ensemble rehearsals after school, such as in the jazz band that Mr. Schwartz has been leading for several years.
Another member of the jazz band, Joe Foderaro '15, offers similar praise for Mr. Schwartz when he says that the jazz band is his favorite part of the music program, “because it’s so energetic.” Joe, a pianist, singer, and bass player, also participates in a few of the three other new ensembles offered in the Prep music program, including the a cappella Treblemakers group and the rock band ensemble. Like most members of the Prep community, Mr. Schwartz does not only what is required of him, but also goes above and beyond to make sure that all possible resources and opportunities are afforded to any Prep music student who wants to pursue them.
At the end of the 2012 school year, Liam McIntyre '14 wanted to attend a summer camp at the esteemed Berklee College of Music. To do so, Liam would need an audition videotape to serve as an application. With Mr. Schwartz’s help, the two were able to record, mix, and produce a video using the state-of-the-art Pro Tools technology in the recently built and donated Rooney Music Room. Mr. Schwartz's dedication not only helped Liam's admission to the camp, but also his receiving a scholarship offer from the prestigious school.
|Mr. Matthew Schwartz '02|
When asked about his contribution to the program's growth and success, Mr. Schwartz points out his own years at the Prep. “I’m able relate to the kids on a person-to-person basis. I’m not afraid to be ridiculous in front of them, to try and draw them out of their shells a little bit. Accurate musical instruction is important, but it’s just as important to get them involved and excited.” Mr. Schwartz elicits such excitement by allowing the students a certain amount of freedom in the direction of the program. For instance, each year he lets the students choose new pep band songs to play at football games, choices that often revolve around the most popular songs on the radio at that time.
Yasmin Dhanani (Prep Band Mom)
Whether you're a fan of futbol or football (or both), one thing that transcends linguistic or cultural differences is music. Music has no teams, no uniforms, no lines of scrimmage - if anything, music brings one closer to the endzone, then reaches out and says, "yes,” touchdown!
Lisa Howard, a longtime Band Mom, and now a Prep Senior Mom (John '14), makes an interesting (albeit hyperbolic) point, “Just as the bagpipers at Waterloo, or El Alamein, inspired the British, so the Pep Band spurs the Prep football team on to victory!”
Jake Strain '15, standout defensive end for the Prep's state champion football team, said, “The Pep Band's presence during the football games is really nice to have; even during the game's action, the music still echoes and helps keep the juices flowing." Taron Hampton '17, also on the defensive line, says that “it is great to have the Pep Band during the games!”
And so my fellow Preppers, that says it all - the Prep Spirit and the motto of the Prep – men for and with others - are manifest in the stands where the fans watch the game and cheer as one, forging the relationship between the football team and the Pep Band.
Cheers to Mr. Matthew Schwartz, the Prep's Music Program Director, for making this possible.
This blog post was written by Martin Connor '08 and Ms. Yasmin Dhanani.