Jubilation Fellow Matrisha Armitage

Matrisha Armitage

Fairy Rock Mother
Eugene OR
Fellowship: 2019
mepaa.org

“There are no failures when making art — only learning and joy.”

Matrisha started singing in grade school, took up guitar in middle school, and drums in high school. Her teaching career began shortly thereafter, and in 2015, she founded the Music Education & Performing Artists Association. Also a Jubilation Foundation grantee, MEPAA provides access to music education and the arts by removing barriers and identifying resources needed for inclusion, exploration, and success. Programs include Grrrlz Rock, Kidz Rock, MuseArt & Music Center.

What led you to become a teaching artist?
My experiences as a performer were sometimes stressful. My dream was to offer music instruction in low pressure, low stress environments to encourage artists to feel safe, supported, and excited to explore musical options. In 2014, I developed a teaching method (Rock Orchestra) with a large pilot group of students of all ages. This success led to creating MEPAA, which has been able to serve a variety of youth, adults, and special needs groups.

Teaching philosophy:
Music can be fun no matter how much experience you have. I want students to play songs they love, and have fun while learning.

Before each workshop we emphasize the Three Rs: Respect Yourself, Respect Others, and Respect the Space. Each participant is given a great deal of freedom and personal agency to care for themselves and the group. This includes changing instruments, moving around the room, or taking time out.

How have you evolved as a teacher?
Learning all the different ways that people learn. Now I’m more adaptable, can change it up, find other ways of teaching. I get to teach a huge variety of students, of differing ages and abilities. And I’ve learned different instruments, because I teach group-style, so whatever someone wants to learn, I can help with: keyboard, guitar, bass, vocals. Anybody can walk in the room and now I’m ready. The first couple of years were scarier, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now I know I can.

I like teaching newbies or those with different abilities, seeing them light up and realize they can do it too. I like figuring out how to meet them where they’re at. I love the chaos of five folks coming in who don’t know what they’re doing, then at the end they’re all smiling and playing together. I want folks to relax and have more fun.

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