The Man, The Myth, The Matt Fowle

The Music Man of Brunswick High


Mr. Fowle in his natural habitat conducting the pit (band) during the musical. Image by: Mike Miller

Matthew “Radical” Fowle is the head of the music department at Brunswick High School. Graduating from Shepherd University in 2013, and working on his masters in 2023, Mr. Fowle has been working at Brunswick since 2014. He is notable for his wide range of musical capabilities, from his skills on the piano to his ability to sing, this all-around conductor is the most suitable person to head a music department. Whether seen wandering the stage like the phantom or taking care of his two kids in his classroom, Mr. Fowle is a staple of all things—Brunswick.

Mr. Fowle is the man behind all music classes at Brunswick. Chorus, concert band, marching band, orchestra, guitar, piano and more, the multi-talented man teaches the basics of music to all who are willing to learn, and offers upper level music classes to those who have completed the level 1 courses. On top of this, he also runs the after school marching band program in the fall, with a two week summer band camp. The marching band performs at football games and local competitions with other Frederick County and neighboring county bands. He has led this group to top prize many times across his years at Brunswick. In the spring, he combines with Tuscarora to form the West Frederick Indoor Percussion band—equally excelling at those competitions. 

Mr. Fowle also helps out with the spring musical for the theater department, taking on the role of the music director. He takes time every Tuesday and Thursday to teach the cast the large group numbers, and offers optional rehearsals to the soloists to help with their numbers. For the most recent musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he was seen more involved, conducting a live pit to play the show’s accompaniment.

Mr. Fowle is also a favorite of students who have him. He commands both the respect and the friendship of many who pass through his classes. His mix of dry wit and genuine honesty make him one of the most popular teachers to engage with in the building. He isn’t afraid to tell the chorus when they horribly mess up a song, or tell the band when all their notes were flat, or tell the marching band just how well that last run went. But none of this is mean spirited, it’s very apparent he cares deeply for music and doesn’t want to waste time with those who don’t share his love for it. For those willing to put in the work, Mr. Fowle is a symbol. He’s always pushing people to improve, and wants to show that just because Brunswick lacks the size of Urbana or T.J., there’s just as much musical talent to showcase. 

Below is an interview conducted by Jasi Ling and Matthew Pelus with the man himself: 

Why did you choose teaching? 

“[*DRAMATIC SIGH*] I don’t know, it seemed like the easiest life choice at the time. No I’m just kidding [chuckles]. It seemed like the natural thing but I liked music in high school so then I said, ‘might as well do that in college.’ When I was working with marching bands in the fall, it was always really fun working with the students and seeing them achieve things and how much they took away from the process of learning things and when they finally got something and that excitement.” 


Do you find the workload rewarding? 

“[*Sighs*] No. Do you mean is my workload balance correct? Well, okay, I guess, you can say yes in a sense of my… like I do a lot of work—As you and Matthew know. And overall, yes. It is rewarding if it pans out correctly, I’ll put it that way. But the amount of work that I have to do tilts that balance, if you know what I mean. Like one of our indoor percussion kids asked me how much the other director Mr. Karos and I got paid for doing indoor—basically she said, ‘do you get paid for this’ and I said, ‘no’ and which shocked her because he and I would put so much free time into something for them.”


What annoys you most about teaching at the high school level? 

“[*Deep Sigh*] well it’s different now, I think, coming out of COVID but just the general level of learned helplessness. People don’t take ownership of their own life—like the way I talk about it is ‘well did you dress yourself today?’ Okay. well you could’ve done this or you could’ve figured that out.”


Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into music or music education? 

“This is the same thing my band director told me when I was in high school, there’s gonna be a part where it stops becoming fun and starts becoming work and that’s gonna be a struggle. Because in high school it’s assumed that it’s somebody else’s responsibility to teach you your stuff. So if we’re talking about you guys for choir, you guys come in and we go over the notes and we spend time breaking down the rhythms and figuring these things out and working as a team—and when you go to college, you get the music and it’s expected that you’ve already learned it. Which is fine as long as you take that initiative and say, ‘oh! no one’s gonna teach me’ and that was something I was mostly prepared for when I did anything band related in college, but when I started singing that was something that I wasn’t fully prepared for. So I sat down a couple days before when I got the music and I was like ‘oh ok, I can do this. Like it’ll be fine’ and I treated it like it was a wind ensemble and sat down and was fully unprepared and they just ‘went’ and I was fully unprepared. So that’s the biggest thing is that you have to realize that there’s a large shift in your responsibility as an individual. And most of it is not entirely your fault as high school people. Like if we had an entirely different structure like elementary-high school that prepared you better for higher levels like in college, it would be different. You guys should be able to sit down at a piano, pluck out the notes, and be ready to go. But realistically we’re not prepared enough at the middle school because we’re not prepared at the elementary school level in the right areas.”

Mr. Fowle and the Brusnwick High School Chorus at adjudication 2023. Image by: Scott Murphy

Should more people join music? 

“[*Awkward Pause*] Yes and no. I don’t think necessarily more people should join music—I think it should be easier for people to *do* music—if that makes sense. There are plenty of people that do it in elementary school because it’s so simple: you get out of class or it’s already a class in your day then you get to high school and it’s a whole lot harder to fit into your day. But I think, if music is what you want to do then it should be easier to do it. We’ve been discussing for a few years now adding an arts completer for graduation so if you want to do music, it would take out financial studies or languages. It would be the same as doing CTC but instead you’d be doing performing arts and stuff like that.” 


On a more personal note, Mr. Fowle is one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. His gift with music is only matched by his ability to teach, and that’s rivaled by how genuine of a person he is. Even if the music being performed was unfun, putting the work in to learn it was worth it just to show him the same level of care he shows his students. I hope the remainder of his time at Brunswick he continues to inspire students the way he’s inspired me, and I hope he knows because of him I plan to continue my love for music into college and beyond. Good days or bad, Mr. Fowle was always there, always patient and understanding, but always honest, to help work through any trouble or misunderstandings found. Everyone should do themselves a favor and take a class taught by the incredible Mr. Fowle. —Matthew

Being completely honest, Mr. Fowle has impacted my life the most in my time as a BHS student. Not only has he pushed me to be better in the classroom but to be the best version of myself… Whitney Houston also had a hand in that but I’ll let Mr. Fowle have his moment. If there’s one class I look forward to the most in my day, it’s my fourth block choir class. Mostly because it’s my only music class but my teacher is just as passionate about music as I am and encourages me to embrace that passion. With my whole heart, I hold Mr. Fowle in the highest of regard. It is with the utmost certainty that he will continue to change people’s lives with his silly jokes and love for Whitney Houston. Hopefully he knows just how much we all love him. —Jasi