“STAC allows me to work with students to solve creative problems and be part of a team, working towards collective goals.”
There are many reasons Dr. Evan Matthews loves working at St. Thomas Aquinas College. However, one quality that stands out to him is STAC’s small size, which gives him and his colleagues the opportunity to get to know his students well and also work with students and faculty across disciplines.
Evan Matthews’ main research looks at improvisation as a tool for music learning and creative projects that include both conventional improvised musical sounds and noise. He has collaborated with students to create several experimental pieces with these elements in mind, and he hopes to do more in the near future. “I think one role the arts can play, besides to entertain, is to reflect something back to the world that comments on global issues. For example, Jaycee Dick, an Art Therapy Major at the College, and I produced a piece entitled “Trash: Ocean Plastic”, in which we use music and noise to make a statement on this urgent global issue. I have also collaborated with students on experimental pieces concerning potable water and its global and political future.”
Matthews teaches a variety of courses at STAC including Intro to Music, Intro to Jazz, Basics of Singing, Acting and Directing, Choral Singing, XLab, and First-Year Seminar. He also is the director of the STAC Singers, Laetare Players.
It is without question that Matthews has an impact on his students. Jeanette Dick says, “I’ve been working with Dr. Matthews since the start of my freshman year. Dr. Matthews believed in me from the very beginning, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Over the past four years, he’s taught me to find creative solutions to problems and to always push myself just a little farther. He’s only strengthened my love of music, theater, and comedy, and I know he will continue to do the same for others.”
Matthews’ teaching style is well-developed, allowing his students to be engaged at all times. He finds his students to be independent and very attentive to whatever is presented to them. Matthews says, “In my Intro to Music class, which is a lecture and listening format, students are asked to sing from time to time. Altogether, of course. At first, they are reluctant, then they giggle, and finally, everyone sings. For example, we might sing the main themes from the first movement of a Mozart symphony.” His style of teaching allows students to step out of their comfort zone in order to grow and prosper.
Another student, Matthew Quinones says, “Dr. Matthews has a vast knowledge and appreciation of the arts. He is like a musical encyclopedia! I have learned a lot from him, whether it be the history of different styles of music, music theory, or singing and acting techniques. Not only that, but Dr. Matthews truly cares for his students. Even during the pandemic when we did not have as much going on, Dr. Matthews would hold virtual meetings with us just to check in and see how we were holding up. Dr. Matthews is a great professor and an even better man.”
Aside from his career at STAC, Dr, Matthews has also taught music courses at Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Fallsburg, NY. He and his colleagues have had quite a few benefit performances at the College, raising money for People to People of Rockland.
Dr. Matthews has a few hobbies that he enjoys when he’s not working. He has a passion for vegetable gardening, visiting NYC, and he loves to make mulberry jam from a tree right in his own backyard! Dr. Matthew’s students make it well-known what an incredible professor and person he is. STAC is lucky to have Dr. Evan Matthews as part of the Spartan Community!