From Maltonian to Musicologist

From Maltonian to Musicologist

We had another former student visit us last term, but this time in a completely different capacity.  Dr Matt Lawson, a Senior Lecturer in Music at Oxford Brookes University, revisited his alma mater to give a lecture to GCSE and A level students on music in films. Film scores, and indeed music for films, television and even video games are a special area of interest to Dr Lawson, who teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.  He has even written a book of the 100 Greatest Film Scores.

In a highly interesting and engaging lecture Dr Lawson spoke to music students about the speed with which film scores need to be composed, how directors and composers work together, the extent to which music enhances a film, works with the dialogue, builds suspense, and in many instances can even be the defining aspect of a film.  (Think Jaws – even people who haven’t seen the film can hum the main theme tune). Students were shown excerpts from blockbuster films to demonstrate just how Important music Is.  Molly Ballam, an A level student, now hears film and TV music completely differently and one of our GCSE Music students, Olivia Lester, learned to identify film characters by their leitmotif and again now actively listens for these leitmotifs when watching films.

As well as the lectures, over the last 3 years Dr Lawson has been creating a series of videos for his YouTube channel.  Initially created to supplement his university lectures, since the lockdowns, the channel has broadened widely in scope and now caters for GCSE and A level music students as well, including a series of 60 second guides covering everything from composers to film music!

Dr Lawson’s journey from Malton School to Musicologist wasn’t always so harmonious though!  He joined Malton School as a Year 7 student in 1998 and stayed until he’d completed his A levels.  But it wasn’t until Year 8 that he showed any interest in music at all.  His then music teacher, Mr Thorp, encouraged him to take up cornet with Swinton & District Excelsior Band and that was when things began to change.

However, even after A levels (which, of course, included Music, along with Geography and IT), it was the then Head of Sixth Form, Mr Ewing, who at results day finally convinced Matt to apply for university.  At such a late stage, his only opportunity was to go through clearing, but he was accepted to study music at Huddersfield University where his love of both music and learning grew, along with his particular interest in film music.  After leaving Huddersfield, he went on to study for his Masters at the University of York and then for his PhD in Film Music Studies at Edge Hill University, before starting work at Oxford Brookes.

His work means he gets to travel quite widely to speak at international conferences and events.  However, he still lives in Yorkshire, and commutes on a weekly basis to his work, whilst also taking some of his lectures into schools for GCSE and A level Music students.  Having benefited so much from the encouragement of teachers himself, Dr Lawson is keen to share his enthusiasm with the next generation of musicians and musicologists.

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