Meet our Percussion Teacher

Matt McDonough has been our Drum Teacher since 2010. Here is a little about him and his time at City of London School:

I grew up playing drums and percussion in Rock, funk and Jazz bands as well as with Orchestras and shows. This included playing with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO). I studied at Trinity College of Music on the Bmus course under Bob Armstrong. Whilst at Trinity, I was offered a world tour with a Canadian group which, over four years, led to performances in over 100 countries along with every state in America (except Hawaii). We released a number of albums and appeared on many international stages, arenas and television programmes. After four years, I returned to the UK performing and recording for many different artists, tours, events and shows.

I’m passionate about passing on my experience to the next generation and have been teaching for over twelve years. In 2013 I became a panel member for the music exam board Trinity College London and, between six of us, we set out the parameters and standards required of a drummer for grades 1 - 8 and wrote a number of the pieces and launched the worldwide syllabus. This is now the most recognised drum kit music exam syllabus in the world.

I started teaching at CLS in 2010. Having previously worked at 2 very well known Independent schools, I had come to know of the fantastic reputation of music at CLS through not only the education network, but through professional colleagues alike.

Aside from teaching Drums and Percussion on an individual basis here, I’m also very involved with assisting Big Band and taking percussion section rehearsals in orchestra along with School productions. Additionally, I teach lessons in Samba and Latin American music. It’s a very busy role! For me, CLS provides an incredibly supportive environment for the lads to thrive musically and not only offers a very wide range of musical activity, but continuously creates new, unique opportunities which I’ve not seen anywhere else. For example, every single pupil in OG and First Form receive free lessons for the year on an instrument of their choice. This means that we discover talents in the boys which ourselves as teachers, the boys, and the parents may not otherwise have known about, and it is one of the very reasons we have such a high standard of music here. This forward thinking approach to musical education, along with an incredibly dedicated department of professional musicians, all of whom are also renowned performers within their own field, makes working here very enjoyable.

One of my highlights over the past few years has been taking our Big Band and Jazz Quintet to Peter Gabriel's studios. Over three residential days we recorded the first ever CLS Big Band and Jazz Quintet album and it really does showcase the boys fantastic musical ability. You can buy this from school entitled “Instant Jazz”.

Further to this is, of course, seeing boys develop from beginners and working up to a very high standard of playing. One student of mine who stood out in particular is a chap called Jonah Summerfield. Jonah studied with me for five years and obtained a scholarship on drums to Berklee College of Music in America. Jonah now covers professional gigs for me when he is back from the USA and is an astounding player. 

Each day is different and my work week is vary varied due to everything we have going on in the School Music Department. Here’s an example of a Wednesday:

  • Morning: Drum kit/Percussion lessons - one on one tuition for ten pupils
  • Afternoon: Samba/Latin American music classes
  • After school: Big Band rehearsals/Orchestra/Combined Cadet Force training
  • Evening: School show production/School concerts

Alongside my music career, I am now one of the CCF (Army section) officers at school which is very enjoyable and rewarding. I’ve also owned a Music Agency since 2010 which provides live music for events, weddings, restaurant and bar chains across the UK. Further to this, I also have a recording studio where I continue to record for various artists across the world thanks to the ability to record remotely.

I’m passionate about passing on my experience to the next generation.

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