Harrison Simmons ’22
It takes a lot of work to prepare all the different levels, classes, and students for Brophy’s multitude of concerts and performances throughout the school year. Dr. Jonathan Robinson is only able to assist his hundreds of students, varying in the instruments they play, to a certain degree since he mainly focuses on the clarinet.
In response, Dr. Robinson has called in help from current and former ASU students (Artists in Residence), who specialize in a variety of instruments, to come in and teach the students playing those instruments.
“The Artists in Residence program is a chance for them to come and be the specialists on campus,” said Dr. Robinson. “Having an artist who has a command of their instrument working with other students here is what’s important to have a good representation of what the instrument can do and what it should sound like.”
The Artists in Residence program began at Brophy five years ago when Brophy’s former band director, Ms. Lisa McKim-Hill, collaborated with her husband, a wind band professor at ASU.
During the school year, Dr. Robinson said that the musicians come to Brophy about four weeks before any scheduled concert. When they are here, they give extra feedback and help students with scales and techniques so that they are fully prepared for whatever concert is coming up.
“I oversee what they are doing, how they are working with students and I pop around,” said Dr. Robinson. “I intentionally leave myself off the schedule so I am not teaching when they are here so I can go around and give them support, but they are really the expertise on their instrument so I whole-heartedly trust the knowledge they give our students.”
When Dr. Robinson was a student at Arizona State University for his master’s degree and doctorate, the Artists in Residence program did not yet exist at Brophy, so he began to help out Highland High School and their marching band and also toured other schools and helped their different sectionals.
“It was a real introduction into the world of teaching,” said Dr. Robinson. “It gives you the opportunity while in school to sharpen your skills and get practical, real-world applications of what you are studying in school.”
While Dr. Robinson didn’t get the chance to be Artist in Residence at Brophy, there are seven current or former ASU students who get the important opportunity to put their skills to use.
One of these Artists in Residence is Dr. Katrina Clements, who recently completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in clarinet performance at Arizona State University.
Dr. Clements was first invited to be an Artist in Residence at Brophy during the fall of 2017 and has seen the program develop from its initial state.
“Before, artists only visited 2-3 times per semester,” said Dr. Clements. “It has been great to watch the Artist in Residence program grow under Dr. Robinson which has allowed for more opportunities for students to work with the artists on their individual instruments.”
When she is on campus in the weeks leading up to performances, Dr. Clements leads the clarinet sections. She initially takes them through warm-ups to build fundamental skills, such as scales, articulation exercises, and intonation. Then she and her section dive into the music and break it down, isolating hard passages, learning specific fingerings, and working on tempo, rhythm and articulation along with other skills.
Dr. Clements said that her several years as an Artist in Residence at Brophy has been a very impactful experience for her as a teacher.
“My experience as an Artist in Residence has provided me with great experience teaching students with varying skill levels,” said Dr. Clements. “I have gained increased adaptability, communication, and organization skills that I continue to use in other teaching capacities moving forward.”
Another current Artist in Residence is Mr. Ryan Matejek, who is currently working on his doctorate in tuba performance at Arizona State University.
Unlike Dr. Clements, this is Mr. Matejek’s first year as an Artist in Residence at Brophy, but he said that he is looking forward to coming back many more times in the future.
Mr. Matejek mentioned that something unique about Brophy’s Artist in Residence program is the team environment that exists among the different instrumental instructors that come to campus.
“There’s a sense that each of us are working to achieve a common goal within our own groups that we lead,” said Mr. Matejek. “It feels as though I am working as part of a teaching team here, which is really nice. I don’t often get to meet other instrumental instructors at the other schools I work at, so I really appreciate that I get that opportunity here at Brophy.”
Mr. Matejek said that he is thankful for this experience because teaching has made a significant impact on him, and the ability to learn from his students and work with them has made him a better teacher and musician.