The Masterful Musician

Students at this school have a similar experience when they enter into Mr. Matt Golladay’s Music/Art Survey class. After learning of polyphony and classicism and of Mozart and modernism, the students hear Mr. Golladay say that he is a professional musician. This is a true statement, as he has worked in numerous fields and places in music across the United States.

“When I was 19, I played smaller Broadway shows,” said Mr. Golladay. “I’ve done Oklahoma, The Wizard of Oz a few times, Annie, and countless others. I’ve also conducted pit orchestras for theaters and stuff like that, as well as high schools.”

However, the career experience that Mr. Golladay has built is not solely based on musicals. “I have done some small things such as playing for bands at bars in local areas,” he said. “When I lived in Seattle, I played for three different local groups that really only played in Seattle and the surrounding area.”

While Mr. Golladay says that he has played with bigger acts that, in his words, “people would know about and go to,” he shies away from discussing specific names. “It’s not a matter of ‘can I play it?’ because I can,” he said. “When people hear me play, they are usually impressed with the precision at which I play.

“When it comes to bragging about myself, I like to take the more humble route, because I really feel like I got lucky getting into some of the situations that I have been able to be in.”

Mr. Golladay has many notable examples of this. “When I was in Seattle, I worked at this music store. It was kind of like a Guitar Center for orchestral instruments,” he said. “There was a guy there named Greg Lyons, who was the top lead trumpet player in Seattle, and generally in most of the Pacific Northwest. He was teaching trumpet at this store while I was managing it, and we became close friends, and hung out and played music together.

“When he was not able to play a show, because he was already playing another one, then he would call me and I would sub for him. Once I started subbing for him, I got some of my own gigs out of that, and after that, you kind of spiral into bigger things. All of a sudden, you become more known, and that’s kind of how it happened to me. I do feel like I lucked into those bigger events. I feel very lucky about the situations which I have been in.”

As proud as he is of his musicianship, Mr. Golladay notes that he could only do so much. “Talent can only take you some of the way,” he said. “For example, I met one of the best trumpet players in the United States, Wynton Marsalis. A while back, he came to where I was studying for my undergraduate degree, and he told me that there was a kid he had met in North Dakota who played trumpet at a bar on the weekends who was 10 times better than I will ever be. That’s just the approach that I have to take as a musician.”

Students who have Mr. Golladay as a teacher, particularly for his band class, feel that his past career furthers the experience that they have in his class. “[His having a previous career] really makes it so that he understands how to teach students better. In my opinion, it makes him a better teacher overall,” said junior Jonathan Sterba.

Mr. Golladay says that his musicianship has taught him important skills. “You have to know how to manage your time in that career field. You may be playing several different things for several different groups at the same time, and you have to keep track of all that,” he said.

He also notes that practice for the trumpet is more difficult than normal, as the instrument is played by mouth. “Practicing the trumpet, as a high brass instrument, is more difficult than the other instruments. I can’t just go and practice for two or three hours straight. I can go at it hard for a little bit, but then you have to let those muscles relax and calm down,” he said.

However, Mr. Golladay feels that the most important thing is the fact that as a musician, he must take on the role of both student and teacher. “I am never not a student of the instrument. I am always learning,” he said.

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