Recently I had the opportunity to steal a few moments of time from Dr. Robert Mathews, a Professor of Music here at Yuba College.
How long have you been teaching at Yuba College?This is my eighth year.
Where did you work before Yuba College?I was teaching at the University of Maryland Asian Division; I taught college at a military base in Seoul, Korea for about 7 seven years. On my way back to the United States I stopped at Buenos Aires, Argentina where I taught at Lincoln University in Buenos Aires for one semester.
Where did you go to school?I got my undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. I got my first Master’s degree in Music Education at the University of Texas; my second Master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, which is Johns Hopkins Music Department and I got my D.M.A. (Doctorate of Musical Arts) at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.
What brought you to Yuba College?I was living in Korea, and later in Buenos Aires, and the economy in Korea was turning sour in the late 1990’s and my wife and I decided to move back to the States. I was sending resumes out to different universities and colleges in the United States but I had an address in Korea not many answered. It seemed to scare them away, seeing a Korean address. I have a sister who lives in Sacramento. I would send my resumes to her in envelopes and use her return address. She would mail them and then everyone would answer those and then she would send me those back. So whenever I would visit the United States I always stopped at Sacramento to see my sister and catch up on my mail. While I was in Sacramento at one of those stops I saw the opening at Yuba College.
You’ve been here for eight years. Do you enjoy it here?Yes, as a matter of fact. When you teach at a university you usually pick one area where you teach and you concentrate on, but I’ve always been very eclectic. I love to teach but I also love to play classical guitar, I love to play flute, I’m a composer. I love music as culture and I love popular music. In a university I would probably be told to pick one area and teach that but at a community college they actually encourage teachers to be broad in their spectrum so I’m able to a lot more than I would be able to do other places.
What is your favorite course to teach?My favorite course is called Music as Culture because it’s unlike any course I’ve seen anyplace else. It’s difficult to explain but we talk about the cultural elements of music and it’s such an interesting course, that you can go any direction in music and culture – you can talk about any culture or subculture. We’re not limited, for example, to a World Music class where I would be limited to talk about the music of countries. In Music as Culture I could talk about music from another country but I could also say Hip-Hop culture is a subculture of American culture and has produced a type of music called Hip-Hop music and then we can talk about that. I really enjoy that class. If you could improve one thing about Yuba College what would it be?I wish we had a little stronger leadership.
Aside from the courses that you teach, what is your favorite thing about Yuba College?The students. I find the students very often very positive, very hungry for knowledge, very open to new areas of knowledge, very open to thinking about thing they haven’t been asked to think about before. I hands down say the students are the most positive attraction here at Yuba College.
Is there anything you would like to add?I would like to encourage everybody to support the Music program. Dr. Miller has concerts with his Jazz Band and Concert Band. Dr. Ueda has concerts with the Choral students and the choral program. We feature a Tuesday Noon Recital Series the second Tuesday of every month at noon in Room 200. I would like to encourage people to attend the Noon Recital Series.