Betwixt Code and Music

Getting to Teach

September 29, 2017

I used to teach music full-time. It was my identity and provided a way for my skills and personality to be useful to others. Teaching music provides a ton of adventure and busy-ness, and I prefer staying busy. I also love to perform music, either in the practice room or on a stage. Teaching provided me a way to play music and hear music constantly for many years. Connecting students with a passion for music and learning remains important to me and to our society.

When I decided to jump ship from the band director world, I fully knew that I would be “out of the loop,” and I was okay with that. No longer would I instantly know the interconnected news of the band world like “so and so left that one school and is going to that other school next year.” Since I would be less visible (or maybe even, gasp, forgotten), then my teacher friends would tend to reach out to the other people that were still “in the game” if they needed some help for percussion.

I also knew that my chances to teach music every day would diminish. BUT this career change would allow me to spend more time with the family (that happened!) and be able to support our three kiddos plus my brother even better (that also happened!). Also, learning new things, especially about technology, and especially especially about creating new things with technology (i.e. “coding”)…those are all MY JAM.

The unexpected side effect of not having to teach my own program all of the time meant that I was available for my friends’ students for the first time in years. Since I have a job in technology where we have a lot of freedom with our vacation policy (and I do not take advantage of it 😜), I make myself available from time to time to help some friends out in teaching their drum lines.

From the time that I announced that I was “Switching Gears” in August 2015, I have been able to teach a handful of times. This has helped me to keep my chops adequately tuned-up and my teaching skills honed. Not to mention, the students at these groups were a blast to be around every day! Since I have been out of the game, here are some of the groups that I have seen since I “quit” teaching. (I cannot help but smile that I “quit” teaching…I definitely didn’t quit, I just don’t do it every day any more! 🤓)

  • 1 college drum line - 2 consecutive years
  • 1 Texas State Marching Contest champion drum line - 4 different weeks in two summers
  • 1 Texas State Marching Contest participant drum line - clinician and 1 week in one summer
  • 1 middle school percussion section masterclass

What a fun experience to be able to stop working on code for a short time to go work on guiding young people toward musical greatness! Y’all keep hitting drums, I will keep hitting my laptop keyboard!

Michael D. Mathew.

Written by Mike Mathew who lives and works in Dallas building useful things. Sometimes he posts on Mastodon. Mike also wears many hats at Presto Assistant where he is a co-founder, owner, and product engineer.