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The next note: New band director instills love of music in Red Mountain students

Working with the trombone section in Jazz Band, Cami Mathusek conducts in front of the class during the song "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" by Duke Ellington on Jan. 27. (Ava Hansen/Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

After band classes experienced the loss of their band director, Mr. Wedge, the classes had three other band directors throughout first semester. The newest band director, Cami Mathusek, has arrived from Texas to teach at her 14th school. She will direct all band classes until the end of this school year.

“I’m a traveler, and I wanted to have the experience of knowing different parts of the country. When I had an opportunity to move, I did,” Mathusek said. “With every single move, it wasn’t daunting, but rather excitement about what new things I was going to learn in that new place and culture.”

She is teaching Jazz Band, Honors Band, Marching Band and Symphonic Band. The students have a variety of positive thoughts on her arrival.

“I really like her ability to choose songs that really fit with the band,” senior and saxophone player Grace Heffernon said. “She is fair to everyone and willing to push us, so I think that is going to lead to more opportunities.”

Mathusek is trying to make her classes more flexible to the students’ wants.

“My best memory with her is when she had students stand up to conduct the class,” freshman and clarinet player Randi Baugh said. “It really allowed us to see how it feels to be her.”

Since her arrival, Mathusek has several goals that she is already putting in place.

“The two goals that I usually have when I get into a new teaching scenario are that I want to really instill a love of music in my students because I know that if they don’t love it, they won’t want to do it,” Mathusek said. “My second goal is to help them to understand what their role is in the ensemble, so everybody plays a part and every part is important. I want to make everyone feel like they are needed desperately. If I can do those two things, then everything falls into place.”

Mathusek has already attended some of the band events, such as marching band’s first place performance in the Fiesta Bowl.

“What I want people to know about the band is that these guys are great players, and that they are musicians,” Mathusek said. “They are not just kids who play an instrument, they are actual musicians with a love and passion for music as well, which is such a great fit.”

After adjusting to the school, Mathusek describes her best memory so far.

“The situation that I came into is difficult, so I knew that the kids were going to have mixed emotions,” Mathusek said. “There was one student who was having a difficult time with the change. One day during rehearsal, I got a thumbs up from her, and I just felt relieved. It’s a small thing, but to me it’s validation that everything would be OK.”

– Ava Hansen is a junior at Red Mountain High School in Mesa.

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