Middle Park senior Matt Hardman plans for future career as music instructor
March 9, 2017
Deciding what you want to do with their lives is one of the hardest decisions teenagers encounter. Anyone who has been privileged enough to be faced with that decision understands the existential nature of the question.
What people do for a living largely defines them; at least as much as where they live, who they love and what god they pray to. Unfortunately for many teenagers, the exact moment in their life when this question is arguably most consequential, at the end of high school, is often the exact moment in their lives when they are least interested in answering it.
It is refreshing then, to see young men and women who already know what they want to be as adults and who have the drive and direction to accomplish it. For Middle Park High School senior Matthew Hardman, that direction is towards music, and his dreams of some day being a music and choir teacher. To that end, Hardman occasionally assists East Grand Music Director Brad Pregeant with choir instructions for junior high students.
Hardman described his decision to become a teacher as an outgrowth of his love for both music and singing and his desire to share that passion with younger kids.
"I have always admired teachers and thought about becoming one," Hardman said. "But I also thought about doing performance arts; doing choir at the collegiate or professional level. Mr. Pregeant has done a lot of good things for us and taught us so much. I wanted to be like that. Sharing music has been a big part of my life for a while now and I realized around the end of my junior year that I wanted to continue that by teaching music."
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Hardman has been singing in formal choir groups for over a decade and said he considers his voice as his primary instrument. He learned the basic of singing as a child in church and began formal participation in choir groups as a third-grader with the Granby Elementary Mini Singers program.
His musical repertoire expanded in junior high as he and his fellow choir members began tackling two-part arraignments. His growth continued in high school with the more difficult four, five or six-part arraignments that are common for secondary students. As Hardman worked his way through high school though he came to realize choir was one of the places he was happiest.
"Over the past couple of years I kind of realized that choir is one of my favorite places to be," he said, explaining that choir is the place he feels most comfortable. "I can express my own emotion through it," he said.
Hardman explained part of his connection to music as an element of his family history, highlighting his uncle and his recently passed grandfather Bill Schade as inspirations for his future career.
To help him better understand just what he will, presumably, someday be doing East Grand's Music Director Brad Pregeant occasionally brings Hardman to the East Grand Middle School to assist with his junior high classes. Pregeant teaches band and choir at both the junior high and high school.
When assisting director Pregeant, Hardman will typically sing parts first to let the kids get an idea of the sound they are trying to create. He will often work with small groups of students, helping them hone their voices and hit their notes.
"Going to the junior high to assist Mr. Pregeant has been fun," Hardman said. "I get to see the younger kids and see how their voices improve. The kids this year were incredibly talented. They were nailing high school songs, that is so cool to me." Hardman said Mr. Pregeant allows him to act as the choir's director during some songs and he can add in his own input in terms of how the kids are doing.
The young man said jazz pieces were his favorite style of music to sing and highlighted the unstructured nature of those songs as a sort of chaotic wonder. "Jazz chords are funky," he said. "But they are beautiful in the way they are funky." His own personal tastes in music are a bit outside the standard fare for choirs though. Hardman said heavy metal, hard rock and punk rock are his favorite genres of music for pure listening. Hardman himself typically sings as a tenor with the Middle Park Choir.
"My favorite thing about choir is that it is open to everybody," he said. "Our high school choir is very accepting of everybody. We have people from all different backgrounds and traditions and we come together and make a great team."
Hardman encouraged all students to at least try choir one time during their high school careers. "It's not for everybody," he acknowledged. "But I would say try it, take a chance. It is pretty fun."