Arts and Entertainment

Frost — a new face in town leads the band

Matt Frost — Friday Harbor Schools
Matt Frost — Friday Harbor Schools' new band director
— image credit: Journal photo/ Scott Rasmussen

By Stewart Bell

Journal intern

Who is that guy who came in second at the 8.8K Loop Run?

He’s the new trumpet player in the One More Time Band.

You may have seen him riding a Harley down Spring Street.

Well, the only man who fits this diverse description is Matt Frost. But he isn’t in Friday Harbor simply to run a road race, gig with a new band or ride a hog.

Those are pastimes. Frost has come to San Juan Island to be the new band director at Friday Harbor’s high school and middle school.

Frost got bit by the band bug early.

“My first influence was my fifth grade band director,” he said, “He told me about Wynton Marsalis and Maynard Ferguson.”

These two influential trumpeters would help to fuel Frost’s desire to pursue a career in music.

Frost is no stranger to island living. He graduated from Whidbey Island’s Coupeville High School in 2000. After high school, He attended the University of Idaho, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education.

He pursued interests outside of music after college, such as racing bicycles in Idaho and in Seattle. But music was the career that stuck.

Frost returned to Whidbey Island to take on his first classroom assignment. He directed the jazz band and concert band at Langley Middle School for two years.

After leaving Langley, he thought about attending graduate school in New York City or in Chicago, but then met a trumpeter in the Seattle Symphony, David Gordon, who pointed him instead to the Chicago College of the Performing Arts. There he studied under Channing Philbrick, co-assistant principal of the Lyric Opera of the Chicago Orchestra.

“I would go to the Chicago Symphony every two weeks,” he recalls.

Two years later, Frost had a master’s degree in music.

Frost is keenly aware that he has big shoes to fill in Friday Harbor. Former band director Janet Olsen set the bar pretty high.

During 11 years at the helm of the band program, Olsen is known to have earned the respect of students, parents and community members alike.

When asked of her hopes for her replacement, Olsen replied, “I wanted someone strong and who would fit in the community.”

So how does Frost intend to make his mark?

“I want as many kids to play [in band] as possible, and I want them to keep their involvement in music all throughout their school years,” he said of his aspirations for the band program.

Frost said that many students, once they reach high school, often choose between band and sports so as to not feel overburdened by class work and by extracurricular activities.

He would like for more students to be able to participate in both.

He would also like to start a jazz band for the middle school, similar to the one that the high school has.

He has even more plans for the high school jazz and concert bands, including more competitions, more festivals, more music and more guest performers.

Students appear to be excited about what Frost has in store.

“He relates well to the students,” said Michael Barsamian, a junior in the high jazz band. “He challenges us to go beyond ourselves.”

Frost has introduced the bands to new and different styles of music, like The Queen Bee, Poultry in Motion and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.

Julian Perrin, a high school trumpet player, enjoys Frost’s focus on creativity.

“He also emphasizes improvisation in solos,” Julian said.

Frost is a performer, as well as a teacher, and is active in the local music scene.

He plays trumpet in the One More Time Band, performed at Oktoberfest and plans to play in the San Juan Singer’s concert in December.

Though an accomplished trumpeter, Frost continues to hone his musical skills, practicing two to three hours a day. He’s also pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Washington.

Frost knows he has his work cut out for him. But it’s not his first gig as a band director, and he has the support of many, including his predecessor.

“He learns well with community people, works hard and has a great sense of humor,” Olsen said. “I want him to succeed.”


Upcoming shows:

- Tues., December 6

Friday Harbor Middle School Band Concert  7:00 p.m. San Juan Community Theatre.  Band director Matthew Frost leads the 6th, 7th and 8th grade bands in this special holiday concert. Free.

- Thurs., December 8

Friday Harbor High School Band Concert  7:00 p.m. San Juan Community Theatre.  Band director Matthew Frost  leads the high school bands in this special holiday concert. Free.

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