Matt Domka directs seventh-grade orchestra students during practice this week.
“Quality” is Matt Domka’s single-word focus as he takes the reins of orchestra director at Mansfield Senior High School and Mansfield Middle School.
“Quality, absolutely,” Domka said Wednesday after working with seventh-grade strings students. “This year I’m not into increasing the number of orchestra students. My focus is on raising the quality of the orchestra program. As the quality improves, the numbers will increase.”
There are 40 students in orchestra – 20 in the high school, nine in eighth grade and 10 in seventh grade.
Domka is no stranger to the Mansfield community or to Mansfield City Schools. He has been the Mansfield Symphony Youth Strings Director since 2013. From 2004 to 2007 he was orchestra director and music appreciation teacher at John Simpson Middle School.
At the high school and middle school he succeeds Alicia Tremmel who resigned this summer.
“When this position opened the timing fit very well with my family,” said Domka, who attended Mansfield City Schools through the fourth grade before moving out of the district. He graduated from Clear Fork High School and Ohio State University with a degree in music education with a specialization in string pedagogy.
“I hope to raise standards,” he said. “I tend to be very technical with strings, working on setup and drawing sound out of the bow. I am very big on rhythm. I always have a metronome going.”
True to his word, a metronome at the back of the room produced a steady, audible beat which Domka, his baton raised high, supplemented with his own finger snapping.
“Together. Stay together. This is measure 10. Find it,” he directed the seventh-graders.
Many of the younger strings students are in the early stages of developing their skills.
“Technique is very important when they are first learning,” said Domka, who has been a private violin and viola instructor since 2004. “I emphasize correct bowing techniques and counting rhythm. We work on intonation and style.”
Domka’s instruction did not end when the period was over and students began to put away their instruments while the cases were on their laps
“No, no, no!” he said firmly. “Put you instruments away with the cases on the floor. You need to break the habit of using your lap. It takes only a second to drop and break an instrument.”