Manson Music Department making History though Positivity and Spirit
(By Jillian Foster)
On October 21, 2016 the Manson High School Music Department, under the direction of Music Director Matt Brown, will make history. For the first time in the history of Manson Schools, the Manson High School Marching Band will perform a half-time show.
Music Director Matt Brown has led the Manson Trojans Band for 10 years. During his tenure, the former UW Husky Drum Major, has established an honors Jazz ensemble known as the Jazz Katz, has become the Small Schools music representative for the State of Washington, and has seen a consistent increase in student involvement in the Manson music department.
Music director Matt Brown conducts and directs the Manson High School Marching Band during a rehearsal for the half-time show. Brown attended University of Washington and was the Drum Major of the Husky’s Marching Band. (Photo by Jillian Foster)
“I always tried to tell the kids, it’s not about quantity it’s about quality. We had about 18 when we started,” Brown stated of his first year with Manson Schools. “My goal is for the program to have 300 kids in it, and we are 100 away from reaching that goal now.”
This Friday, when the marching band takes the field at half-time, the department will take another step forward in the ongoing journey that is student development. Brown has led his musical troops using positivity and constructive criticism both for and from the students.
“My conduit to teaching them how to be a good person, is music,” explained Brown. “A lot of times we’ll say, ‘don’t do this or don’t do that’ instead of ‘please do this or that.’”
Brown went on to explain that student feedback is integral in the planning process. “Whenever we try something new like this, I’ll bring it back to the kids with something like a paper questionnaire. With a paper questionnaire, I feel like they feel comfortable to speak their minds.”
The Manson Music Department has grown from 18 to approximately 200 students, since Music Director Matt Brown started his career with the Manson Schools 10 years ago. (Photo by Jillian Foster)
The Trojan Football team will take on Liberty Bell and will celebrate Senior Night on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. (Photo by Jillian Foster)
As the band rehearses on the field, Brown’s energy is contagious. His direction is patient. The students respond to correction with smiles and mutual respect. As they wrap up their brief rehearsal, Brown congratulates each student on their hard work and has individual notes and high fives for every performer.
“The best dancer on the field,” Brown comments to one student as he packs his school bag and heads out the door of the band room, a room that feels nearly too small for the number of students that fill it.
As the years have passed, Brown has added more opportunities for the students of Manson to find their place in the world of music. He’s taken the band to Husky Band Day, where his students have the opportunity to watch and perform with the University of Washington’s Marching Band perform on field along with band students from all over the state. The Manson Band also participates in the annual Apple Blossom Festival Parade, and new options arise each year.
Brown began his career with Manson Schools 10 years ago. At the time, there were only 18 students participating in the music department. Now there are approximately 200 students involved, and Brown’s goal is to increase that to 300. (Photo by Jillian Foster)
“I always want to push to do something new that we haven’t done before,” said Brown. “I get the feel from this group of students, that’s what they want to do. They want to be challenged.”
Add marching band to the list of experiences that Manson students can contribute to their resumes for college applications. Music education has also proven to increase student’s scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). According to a study published by the Journal of Research in Musical Education, it was found that students involved in music courses showed a 15.3 point gain in SAT scores for each additional year-long music course taken.
“The research connecting brain development and the playing of a musical instrument is pretty clear,” said Manson School Superintendent Matt Charlton. “Manson band students get these benefits and have a lot of fun with a great instructor. Mr. Brown sets high expectations for his students and works hard to help them reach those standards.”
Drum Major Damon Smith (right) will lead the Manson High School Marching Band in their performance during the Trojan’s football game against Liberty Bell on Friday, Oct. 21. (Photo by Jillian Foster)
In addition, music is a great contributor to school spirit and team morale that will be boosted through the band’s performance, which will feature popular favorites and traditional tunes. “Manson’s pep band helps make athletic events special,” said Charlton. “Their music and enthusiasm elevates everyone’s energy.”
The Manson High School Marching Band will perform on Oct. 21, during the half-time show of the Trojan’s football game against Liberty Bell. The game starts at 7 p.m. at the Manson High School football field located at North 1000 Totem Pole Road.