New band director joins staff in second semester


Adison Sherrill

New band director Mat Tilus starts his middle school class off with some breathing exercises. Being here for four weeks now, Tilus had quickly adjust to his new classes and enviroment.

   The district welcomed new band teacher Matt Tilus this semester and, while students are happy to have him here and like the improvements he’s making, they are adjusting to a new director’s style.

   “I think he is a very good teacher. I feel we do very well with him here and I personally am glad he came,” senior trumpet player Perrie Judd said. 

  Tilus joined the faculty after the resignation of band director Curtis Thomas in December. 

   The students are adjusting, even though this change of teachers was very quick. 

   “It’s kinda weird switching teachers because we got so used to Mr.Thomas and then we had to get used to a different person teaching us with no warning at all,” junior Hannah Wooldridge said.

   Tilus intends on making improvements slowly, but surely with all band students. He plans to focus on growth and learning different techniques with different students involved.

    “Improving a band’s musical success starts with the culture of the program,” Tilus said.

   Tilus said the band must build a culture of discipline and limit distraction. 

“We are a team and a family, and we take pride in the little things . . . We value each other, help each other, and routinely provide verbal encouragement and praise to our peers for little victories in band rehearsals however they come,” he said.

   Tilus said he wants to get to know his students and inspire a love of music.

 “Furthermore, as a director I prioritize getting to know my students and their families and ensure I am doing my job as a music educator, which is ultimately to cultivate a love of music in my students. If we can exemplify a disciplined culture and take pride in the little things, the band will go a long way in musical growth that the community can be proud of and the kids can have a blast performing. It takes patience and time!” Tilus said. 

  He has more than six years of experience in teaching music. He moved to Warsaw from Falls Church, Virginia, where he was teaching elementary band. He was previously the sixth through twelfth grade band director in Dewey, Oklahoma.  He is a graduate of Branson High School.

   Even with the sudden change, the students involved are still adapting, but growing stronger.

   “The band, altogether, is still very similar. I think we’re still very focused on the common goal, which is to do the best we can as a whole,” Judd said. 

   After the class grows together and gets routines down, they will begin certain projects, but for now they are focused on bonding. 

   “Right now, my primary focus is connecting personally with the kids and families that comprise the Warsaw Bands community, and ensuring that their experience in my program is positive and always on an upward trajectory. Additionally, organizing our rehearsal spaces and the students’ learning materials is a major project right now that, once completed, will lend itself to more productive rehearsals and the result, in time, will be evident,” Tilus said. 

   Meanwhile, students also agree that he has already been making improvements in the little amount of time he has been involved in the district.  

   “He’s only been here a couple weeks but I feel like he is going to help us improve rather than not,” Wooldridge said.