The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB congratulates Matt Witek, jazz drums, as the Cole Conservatory Scholar of the Month for December 2011.
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This Week at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music

Cole Conservatory Scholar of the Month:
December 2011

Matt Witek, jazz drums

Portrait of Matt behind a drum kit.

Matt Witek, jazz drummer, is a second year graduate student in the Jazz Studies department. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2009 with a B.M. in Music Education. Shortly after graduating from Berklee, he was offered a teaching position at a Berklee International Network School in Quito, Ecuador. Witek spent the 2009-2010 academic year as a faculty member, instructing private lessons, jazz ensembles, and ear training courses.

In Fall 2010, Matt was awarded a Cole Scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies, under the direction of Jeff Jarvis. Since moving to Southern California, he has been fortunate to work with Ron Stout, Llew Matthews, Doug Webb and Ron Escheté. Most recently, Witek joined Glendora High School as an Assistant Band Director to CSULB alumnus, Scott Schwartz. Witek works directly with the Jazz Ensemble, where he coaches the rhythm section and constructs weekly lessons in jazz listening and theory. He also studies with Celcia Coleman.

K. When and Why (did you choose) Jazz? Any particular influences—teachers, experiences, performances?

M. My parents had a great listening library in the house when I was growing up and I quickly found myself enjoying the music of Miles Davis, Bill Evans and many more. I studied classical percussion and drum set through high school, but soon realized that drum set was my calling and studied with great teachers at Berklee.

K. Do you have any special techniques or practices that you incorporate in your instruction or coaching?

M. I always incorporate listening activities and when applicable, I encourage individual and group transcription. When I work with a rhythm section in particular, I make sure they understand the role of their instrument and how they fit in the ensemble.

K. What most about teaching do you enjoy?

M. I enjoy when a student takes the information provided and comes back swinging for the fences with deeper questions and thoughts about improving. I try not to make my teaching unidirectional and I make each student responsible for self-critique.

K. Are you involved with other groups off-campus and how often and where do you perform?

M. I have been working with various big bands in town, but personally I prefer to work with smaller groups, especially the piano trio format. For me the key for performing is playing what I love and I do not intend to be a part of something that I don't truly believe in.

K. Finally, did you choose the Cole Conservatory or did the Cole choose you?

M. I guess we can say the Cole chose me. I was awarded the scholarship through Jeff Jarvis. The scholarship was a large reason for returning to school to pursue a Masters Degree. I am very thankful for the scholarship.

Previously Honored Cole Scholars of the Month






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Bob Cole Conservatory of Music
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