Congratulations to Matthew for his scholarship offer to Berklee College of Music, Boston.
Matthew began playing the piano as a young child, although this was never a true passion and when he decided to give it up, a few years in the musical wilderness followed. However, Matthew’s father continued to share his love of music with him, especially 70’s/80’s rock and roll, and this became a real inspiration. By Year 8, the spark was re-ignited and Matthew began to take music seriously again (especially guitar), and the dream of one day becoming a professional musician was born.
A couple of years later, Matthew discovered Berklee - who’s alumni and working professors include several of his own musical heroes. He was also lucky to gain further insights into the world-renowned music college from one of Shrewsbury’s own former students, Mai (Class of 2012), who returned to Riverside to talk to current students about applying to Berklee and the ins and outs of life as a musician.
Now in his 15th year at Shrewsbury, Matthew is currently studying Maths and Economics alongside Music A level, where he is receiving valuable guidance on musical composition and songwriting. He points to the complementary nature of the subjects, with maths providing a helpful basis for understanding acoustics and principles of sound engineering, whilst the wide reading required for the Economics and Music courses provide a wealth of subject material and perspectives for his lyrics and compositions.
Interestingly, when it comes to his guitar playing, however, Matthew is largely self-taught, and has only received formal tutoring for the last year or so. In his view, though, colleges like Berklee are not necessarily looking for the “perfect” musician - but people with genuine potential in, dedication to, and passion for, their craft.
In Matthew’s case, this is underlined by a practice regimen that is very different to more classical musicians around him. His blues and jazz background - where improvisation is key - leads him to hours of exploratory jamming, through which he develops new tools for his musical armoury. He’s also increasingly gravitating towards writing; something which is very time consuming, but he tries to work on poetry and lyrics every day, to keep the mind sharp and inspiration flowing.
Matthew feels privileged to be awarded to music scholarship for his final year at Shrewsbury - the first “contemporary” musician to represent the school in this way - but is understandably frustrated the COVID has limited his opportunities to perform live alongside fellow musicians. That said, the scholarship audition process in itself proved extremely helpful, sharing many of the same requirements as Berklee.
Whilst he’ll certainly miss Shrewsbury - a community he respects for its friendly, supportive environment but also its honesty, especially in terms of the feedback he receives for his work - Matthew is hugely excited to be heading to Boston and the vibrant musical scene at Berklee. Having already featured on their Instagram channel and found common ground with several fellow freshman students, he’s looking forward to collaborating with a whole community of talented, like-minded musicians.
Inspired by writers such as Joni Mitchel and Paul Simon, producers such as Quincy Jones (Michael Jackson) and Questlove (The Roots, D'angelo), and performers synch as Eric Calpton, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, Matthew does not want to limit his professional options or creative possibilities. He ultimately sees himself being involved in every stage of the musical process in the future: a Singer-Songwriter who also produces music, and ultimately performs in the studio and to live audiences.
We’re sure that a very exciting future awaits for Matthew; someone who’ll always be remembered as a real star here at Shrewsbury. Rock on!