Music to My Ears

Reis exemplifies how hard work leads to a bright future


Sarah Bernick

“If I could describe Matt in one word it would be driven. His work ethic, his leadership, his constant goal setting, and never settling for anything less than perfection,” Oates said.

Sarah Bernick, Editor-in-Chief

Name one person you know that can play the tuba, euphonium, french horn, bass clarinet, and the bass trombone…don’t worry, I’ll go first. 

Matt Reis is a senior at Davenport West who has a special talent and passion for music like no other. Participating in choir and show choir his freshman and sophomore year, along with being one of the first freshmen to be in the Varsity show choir, Reis started impressing with music from the very start. However, his true passion lies within the walls of the band room, having been in the Varsity band all four years of high school. 

Not only has Reis shown his strengths and skills inside the classroom, but through honorable awards as well. He takes pride in stating his well earned awards and accomplishments throughout his band journey. 

 “For band, Iowa is split into six sections, and I am this section’s representative for a music scholarship called Majorlanders. This past year I was second in the state for tuba, along with being a three time All-Stater.  I am a recipient of the Gene Guest Memorial scholarship, which is a guy who spent most of his time in the Southeast part of Iowa doing a lot of band things and I was able to receive that scholarship,” Reis said.

Outside of music, Reis is also part of the National Honor Society, along with receiving Academic Excellence. Music may be a top priority, but it does not hold him back from succeeding academically and reaching his fullest potential. Furthering his success, Reis continues to push until he reaches the top, which shows through the honors he’s received. 

“Matt sets very high goals and once he reaches those goals he sets a higher goal. Being a 3-year All-Stater is the highest honor that a high school member can achieve, so he’s done that three times now. Even that’s not enough for him, so he has also been accepted into Seiba Honor Band on a whole different instrument as well,” Head Director Maggie Oates said.

Reis has been accepted into his dream school, Wartburg, and plans on jumping right into his future by attending this fall for Music Education. All of his scholarships are from tuba, which is what he’s attending college to play. However, Reis strives to continue learning and playing new instruments. 

“I want to be a band director when I grow up and part of that is learning how to be a leader, be in band, learning how to conduct, and right now I’m getting a lot of that experience. It’s extremely prioritizing just being in auditions and being present in this whole process because someday I’m going to be on the other side of it,” Reis said.

Being flexible and willing to try new things is key for Reis’s road ahead. In order to do so, he’s had encouragement and advice from Oates for the last four years. She’s well aware of Reis’s hopes and dreams and is determined to help him reach them. 

“As a music educator you have to be able to play every instrument in the band, orchestra, piano, and vocal, so there’s a lot of stuff that goes into being a director. His goal is to learn everything he needs to so that one day he can reach his goal of being a band director,” Oates said.

Not only does Reis play in the band, but has also been a drum major for the past two years. A drum major is leader of the marching band during rehearsals and in performance who carries out instruction of the band director. He explains how an audition occurs every year in the spring called the “drum major auditions.” Part of that audition is conducting part of the national anthem, calling commands to see if they can lead the band efficiently, and being able to follow the commands in order to test one’s drum major abilities. Attitude and mindset is always being looked at, so if you have a great attitude and you work really hard, then that’s most of the audition.

“My freshman and sophomore year I was told every time I wanted to audition for drum major that I would never get it because we always needed a tuba player on the field. However, I was lucky, I’ll admit, because this past year we thought we were going to have 5 tuba players, which is allegedly why I got it. They ended up doing so well on the field that I was able to be put somewhere else and be a leader as opposed to a player.”

Along with Reis’s musical skill level, he also brings quite the personality to the table that impacts everyone around him in such a positive and enlightening way.

“I’ve known Matt for five years, all the way back to middle school. He’s really impacted the band environment as a whole by being such an outstanding leader. His drive to be better each and every day, his positivity and his motivation of showing up at his best self each morning really shows how much he brings to the table,” junior Peyton Flynn said.

Flynn shares that Matt’s energy sparks the room, as he’s always able to make a joke about something. He’s constantly brightening someone’s day, whether he knows it or not. Whether it’s playing, directing, or just being present, the leadership is always there. 

“Matt is a fantastic leader and does whatever needs to be done for the band and for myself, along with teaching assisting, organizing music, setting things up, moving equipment, and even directing the band when needed,” Oates said. 

Through the years, Reis has been able to reflect and look back at some of his favorite moments. Whether it’s in the band room, marching on the football field, or rehearsing on the practice field, there’s always something memorable occurring. 

“All four years that I’ve been in high school it just rains for four weekends in a row and by the end of that we are just slushing and sliding around on pure mud on the band field because there’s nothing we can do about it. Some of my favorite memories are getting out there and having to run the show and no one is doing alright. We are all slipping and sliding all over the place and it’s just such a funny and memorable experience.”

For those looking to take part in these memorable experiences, or just branching out to try new things, Reis recommends taking part in the music industry, for there is no limit. 

“If anyone’s interested in becoming part of the music department just go for it. There’s no such thing as being too busy. We’ve had people who are in football, and at football games are marching in full pads and everything. This music program is so willing to work with every other facciate of the school that if you want to try music you can.”  

As his high school experience comes to an end, Reis leaves behind his bright energy, which will have an everlasting impact in the music department at West. However, he will continue to move forward in accomplishing his goals. 

 “I’m so excited to see Matt start teaching in his future, and really finding his own way of doing things, along with watching him develop as a person. I truly believe that Matt is going to change lives by filling his love of music in everyone else.”