Matt Jackson, B'13
Q: Who inspired you to be a music teacher?
A: My elementary school band directors Frank Manna and Ken Stiak inspired me to pursue music as a profession. Mr. Manna was also my band director at Marist High School before he retired at the end of my Freshman year. I still keep in contact with both of them, and I always learn something new from them every time we talk.
Q: At what point did you feel you made the right choice by coming to VanderCook?
A: I knew I made the right choice by coming to VCM after talking to Music Education majors from other schools. There are so many things that we as VanderCook students take for granted that many other schools don't provide their students.
Q: What was the most memorable class you took at VanderCook?
A: Instrument repair was the best class I have ever taken. We got hands on practice at fixing brass and woodwind instruments, and had a lot of fun (we got to use blowtorches. Does it get any better?) Even though it was an 8am class on Saturday, I didn't mind going to class at all.
Q: You hosted a booth at the Illinois Music Educators Association Conference selling custom-made batons. Can you elaborate on how you got into that?
A: I started making conducting batons two or three years ago after Dr. Sinclair held a workshop on how to make your own baton. I thought it would be fun to make my own, so I did. I showed the baton I made to my uncle, who does a lot of woodworking on weekends, and he thought we could make a business out of it. I didn't put any thought into this, but a couple months later he gave me a couple prototypes and Jackson Conducting Batons was born. Over the next year or so, he helped me develop new techniques for making batons. I started selling them to students in the conducting classes at VanderCook and used the feedback I received to improve my product.
I was blown away by the amount of support I received from everyone at VanderCook. If it weren’t for everyone here, especially Dr. Menghini, Dean Dolan, Dr. Sinclair, and Dr. Eccles, my business would have gone nowhere. It's a great feeling to look into a conducting class and see people using batons I made.
Q: What will you miss most about VanderCook after you leave?
A: The people. The people at VanderCook are great, especially the faculty and staff. They really treat you like their colleague and not just another student. I have been taking trumpet lessons with Dr. Leah Schuman since junior year of high school, and it will be tough not having a lesson with her each week.
Q: If you could give 18-year-old Matt Jackson a piece of advice about school, what would it be?
A: You have a recital in four years. Get in a practice room!!!!
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