Matthew Coley grew up in rural southwest Virginia and currently lives in Waterloo, Iowa.
Becoming a Musician
Matthew began playing percussion at age 10, and decided at the age of 14 that he wanted to be a professional musician. He was also interested in architecture at the time but found that he experienced more joy when playing music than he did when designing buildings. Although, music and architecture weren’t his only passions and he became a professional dancer in his twenties.
Once he decided that music would be playing such a major role in his life, Matthew couldn’t seem to get enough of it. He had to seek out opportunities to play, due to the ruralness of where he lived. His private lessons were an hour’s drive from his home and the culture of the region wasn’t always supportive of the intense pursuit of a creative passion.
Concerts and Performances
Matthew loves performing, but he also loves practicing. He loves the entire process of improving from week to week and following it up with the exhilaration of performance. He doesn’t particularly like the two days right before a performance, because they are usually hectic with planning many percussion and travel logistics.
He’s always creating lists to stay focused and even has lists of what repertoire is to be prepared for future concerts.
Matthew’s Missed Opportunities
After experiencing great progress as a player once getting to high school music classes, Matthew wishes he had decided to join the high school marching band before that, in the 8th grade, and feels that he should have probably taken more composition classes in college. He also wishes that he started playing the piano before he turned 10.
In addition to a continuous effort at keeping the ‘busy work’ of life down to a minimum so he can focus clearly on creative work, Matthew knows these small regrets only provided extra fire to his tenacity to be a successful musician.
Matthew’s Unique Story
When Matthew was 23, he became a professional modern dancer while still working as a percussionist. He had the height and facility that many of the choreographers were looking for in Chicago and after training for nine months, he had a gig where he toured for two weeks doing a holiday show. He then worked as a contracted dancer from 2003 until 2007. He only stopped when he returned to university in the fall of 2007 to work on his doctorate degree in music performance.
Since Matthew works with unique instruments, he is constantly trying to convince people that they will like listening to a dulcimer, a marimba, or several of the other percussion instruments that he plays. He wants to reach out to as many people as he can so that he can show them how joyful these instruments truly are.
He wants to do larger-scale collaborations and productions in the future too. One that he is currently working on will involve an installation of hundreds of glass pieces and vessels, which will all be designed to be played as instruments.
Matthew loves fugues, and he will be releasing a video album of Bach fugues performed on the marimba. It will be dense works of 2-4 voices written for a keyboard instrument by a solo marimbist.
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