The new academic year brings fresh faces to the music programs at three Mansfield schools.
Ashley Rudd – Malabar Intermediate School
When she submitted her application for the position of orchestra teacher at Malabar Intermediate School, Ashley Rudd began with a statement about her teaching belief.
“Music is a truly universal language. I am passionate about enabling students to communicate in and appreciate that language,” she wrote. “Music promotes problem solving experience, directly relates to math and history and provides an expressive and emotional outlet. I believe all students need these skills to have a rich life, and it is my pleasure to facilitate this important part of students’ education.”
At Malabar, Rudd succeeds Chris Japikse who resigned this summer to return to the Columbus area. She moved to Ohio from the Chicago area recently when her husband was hired as a music professor at Denison University in Granville.
“I am excited to be working with this age group,” she said of her Malabar assignment. “It’s like introducing students to music. They are a fresh canvas. They will leave here with tangible information they didn’t have when they came. This is different than the music they hear on the radio and they will have the opportunity to play it.”
A 2005 graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, with a degree in music education, she is pursuing a masters of music education through the Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut.
In the Chicago area, Rudd was an orchestra teacher in the St. Charles School District No. 303 for 12 years, directing the string orchestra of grades three through eight. The director of youth vocal and handbell choirs at her church, she also performed as principal cellist with the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra and several symphony orchestras.
“It’s a special thing when a school can offer an orchestra program at this level,” Rudd said of Malabar. “I will be emphasizing good technique, getting kids playing the right way – achieving good health and good sound when holding instruments correctly.”
Rudd said she has met and talked with Matt Domka, the new orchestra teacher at Mansfield Senior High and Mansfield Middle School. They plan to collaborate on developing the total orchestra program. “We have different backgrounds but we are very much on the same page,” she said. “We want to see the program grow.”
Matt Domka – Mansfield Senior and Mansfield Middle School
“Quality” is Matt Domka’s single-word focus as he takes the reins of orchestra director at Mansfield Senior High School and Mansfield Middle School.
“Quality, absolutely,” Domka said Wednesday after working with seventh-grade strings students. “This year I’m not into increasing the number of orchestra students. My focus is on raising the quality of the orchestra program. As the quality improves, the numbers will increase.” There are 40 students in orchestra – 20 in the high school, nine in eighth grade and 10 in seventh grade.
Domka is no stranger to the Mansfield community or to Mansfield City Schools. He has been the Mansfield Symphony Youth Strings Director since 2013. From 2004 to 2007 he was orchestra director and music appreciation teacher at John Simpson Middle School. At the high school and middle school he succeeds Alicia Tremmel who resigned this summer.
“When this position opened the timing fit very well with my family,” said Domka, who attended Mansfield City Schools through the fourth grade before moving out of the district. He graduated from Clear Fork High School and Ohio State University with a degree in music education with a specialization in string pedagogy. “I hope to raise standards,” he said. “I tend to be very technical with strings, working on setup and drawing sound out of the bow. I am very big on rhythm. I always have a metronome going.”
True to his word, a metronome at the back of the room produced a steady, audible beat which Domka, his baton raised high, supplemented with his own finger snapping. “Together. Stay together. This is measure 10. Find it,” he directed the seventh-graders.
Many of the younger strings students are in the early stages of developing their skills. “Technique is very important when they are first learning,” said Domka, who has been a private violin and viola instructor since 2004. “I emphasize correct bowing techniques and counting rhythm. We work on intonation and style.”
Domka’s instruction did not end when the period was over and students began to put away their instruments while the cases were on their laps. “No, no, no!” he said firmly. “Put you instruments away with the cases on the floor. You need to break the habit of using your lap. It takes only a second to drop and break an instrument.”
Source: Mansfield City Schools