‘Love at first sound’

Nebraska student shares love of band

Matt Dornan learned to polish instruments, which he says demonstrates his love for music.

Matt Dornan learned to polish instruments, which he says demonstrates his love for music.

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Senior Matt Dornan’s locker isn’t the cleanest thing in the world. Shoved inside of it are three instruments, euphonium, marching baritone and bass trombone along slide his backpack and a small black tool box, his cleaning kit. On the top shelf, seven values sit, lined up perfectly from largest to smallest. Cluttered among these are numerous awards and papers, the rest of his school life. Dornan’s locker tells a story, a story that is him.

“It really started in seventh grade,” Dornan said. “I was about to quit band because I was having to deal with a really rough past. That is when Mr. Jenkins suggested something to me.”

Dornan’s seventh and eighth grade band teacher offered him a new look at music: playing a new instrument. After experimenting with the tuba and other instruments, Dornan settled on the baritone, an instrument that is known for its warm, rich and powerful projection.

“It was love at first sound as I say,” Dornan said. “It helped me to fall in love with music again.”

Dornan’s love of music blossomed from here. As an eight grader he attempted to conquer learning a new clef: the bass clef. He also found time to learn how to play the trombone which allowed him to become a part of the jazz band at the middle school. By learning these new elements of music Dornan knew he could open new doors for himself, and by high school he did.

As a freshman, Dornan was one of the first to become an alternate for the varsity band.

“It is a high position for a freshman and I had to start making myself become known,” Dornan said. “I played loud but good. People were able to hear me.”

Dornan became a stand out among the other freshmen, but he wanted to get better. He added private lessons and learned the slide trombone. With three instruments under his belt before he could drive, Dornan knew he would have a future in band. By sophomore year it all clicked.

“I found my love for cleaning,” Dornan said. “I knew how to play these instruments and I love when things are working, and I started doing that and helping people.”

Dornan wanted to create an appreciation for instruments. He wanted to let everyone know that things needed to be working and in proper order. He started with his own instruments and it grew. By junior year Dornan was an established member of multiple bands at the high school, and a go-to for instrument problems.

“I started to go for it,” Dornan said. “I learned what to shine and I bought some polishing materials, brass for brass and sliver for sliver only. I wanted to show people what I could do.”

Dornan began polishing others’ instruments. He also tried out and made every jazz band offered at the high school. He was now a crucial part of the music program and spent his days in the band hallway.

“It was a lot, I would focus on other things, homework and stuff at home,” Dornan said. “I had practices before school, CJB was four to five times a week, AM Jazz was two times a week, stage band was whenever I could find time.”

Dornan found the time to do this and much more. He spent his open mods greasing slides and polishing. He became responsible for the upkeep of the instruments in the band program as well the person to ask for assistance with instruments.

As a senior nothing has changed. Dornan continues cleaning and prospering in the music program. He is now a part of every single band at the high school and donates his open mods to cleaning and fixing instruments.

“I get to school at about 6 a.m. every day,” Dornan said. “I spend about an hour cleaning and then I have band practice. I spend each of my open mods in the band hallway, helping out kids and then I stay after school until 6:30 p.m.”

Dornan’s passion for band is known. He is currently first chair in the varsity band and plans to continue on to play band and fix instruments in college. Dornan’s passion for band is rare, but it is everlasting.

“Music equals life,” Dornan said. “So if I start losing music, I start losing life. But right now, it is so strong it would be impossible for it to go.”

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