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Farmington bands welcome addition of new director

Matt Clark stands among a few of his percussion instruments in his new office in the Farmington Band Department. Clark is Farmington High School’s newest band director. John R. Russett / RiverTown Multimedia

According to Farmington Associate Director of Bands Bradley Mariska, the hardest part of new band director Matt Clark's transition from his work solely with the marching band over the past two years to his own band — and his own office — is getting the students to call him Mr. Clark instead of Matt.

Aside from a slight shift in formality, Clark's permanent presence has seamlessly slipped into the culture created by Director of Bands Erin Holmes and Mariska.

"We saw that he not only was a great fit for the types of ensembles that we want to continue to develop, but he also had that prior working relationship with us, which is super important," Mariska said. "We knew that he had experience, we knew that he agreed with that sort of philosophy that we have of music education, which is student-focused. We could kind of just hit the ground running."

Clark, who began his work with the Tiger Marching Band while working on his masters degree at the University of Minnesota, said his start in music came at an early age.

His mother was involved in music, as was his older brother. He took to percussion and played all the way through high school.

When it came time for college, Clark said, he didn't give it too much thought and applied to the same college as his brother — the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point — where he studied music education.

"It's this hidden little gem halfway between Chicago and Minneapolis," he said. "A lot of great jazz musicians have come through there. It was a great education program."

Clark currently directs one band and teaches lessons in the afternoon.

Although currently on a part-time basis, Clark hopes to parlay some of his other skills into expanding the band department beyond its current components.

"He not only loves doing the traditional band thing, but he's interested in reaching other students through different types of ensembles," Mariska said. "It's a really nice balance, because he gets excited about things we get excited about, but he also has other things that he brings to the table."

Part of Clark's music education included audio engineering — recording, mixing, mastering — which he hopes can translate into a class where students not only create their own music, but learn how to take it through the entire process to get to a finished product.

As a percussionist, he also mentioned the possibility of intro to drumming class.

"So we want to make sure that we are giving students an opportunity to pursue things they're passionate about. Music doesn't have to just take the form of a traditional band ensemble," Mariska said.

Clark said he's excited for his first concert — other than student teaching, he has yet to step in front of an ensemble in that setting. And beyond the near future, he said he's excited to continually find ways to convey all that music has to offer.

"I'm just excited to be here and have the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of people," Clark said. "There are very few people in my life that are as good of people as they are."

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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