Student reminisces on musical past


Erika Ward

A life changing experience while job shadowing at a hospital convinced Mathew Medley that he should pursue a career ­— in music. 

Medley was not originally going to be a music education major, however. He first considered a career in medicine.

“I job shadowed at a hospital for two years,” Medley began.  “I worked in intermediate care. That’s supposed to be outpatient. They were full in the intensive care unit that day so I wound up getting placed with a man with Stage-4 cancer.”

Medley said he was one of the last people the man talked to before he died.

“It was a really (an) intense moment in my life, and I learned a lot about the nature of life and death and what it is to be happy,” Medley said. 

According to Medley, that’s when he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in what makes him really happy — music. 

He decided to study music education because he was inspired by his teachers and wanted to connect with his students the way they did with him. 

“I want to be that groundwork for people,” Medley said.  “I want to be that teacher for other kids that teachers were for me.

“I’ve had the privilege of going to summer camps and working with the cello professor here. It helped to make the decision a lot easier knowing that I was walking into a good program.”

Medley’s pursuit of music began at the age of six when his mother expressed that she wanted him to learn an instrument and has brought him to Western’s orchestra.

 Although Medley’s current primary instrument is the cello, he first began to dabble into the world of music with the piano.  

“There was someone at our church who played the harp and so I really wanted to play the harp,” Medley said. “My parents told me that a harp was too expensive, so I did piano until fifth grade.”

Medley was not convinced the cello was the right instrument for him until his piano teacher — a former cello player — played a recording of “Prelude in G” by Bach.

“She put this CD on and when I heard it I said, ‘Yes,’” Medley said. “That’s when I knew that that’s what I had to do with the rest of my life.”

Medley said he loves Western because of the size of the school.

“It’s that perfect middle ground,” he explained.  “You have a chance to define yourself or you can be a part of the crowd.”

Medley is also considering adding another major, French.

“I had a really good set of teachers in high school,” Medley said.  “You hear so much about the travel abroad program at this school and all the awesome options that are available to foreign language majors. Music education is already a five-year program.  What’s another semester or two to pick up the second major?”