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Strumming, singing and inspiring

Checking In With ... Scott Fitzpatrick

Scott Fitzpatrick plays in the band Fabulous Nomads and teaches students by day, hoping to instill in them a love of music.

September 19, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Music teacher Scott Fitzpatrick poses for a portrait at the Newport-Mesa Unified School District headquarters in Costa Mesa.
Music teacher Scott Fitzpatrick poses for a portrait… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Don't let Scott Fitzpatrick's band's name fool you. He's no nomad.

Sure, the Costa Mesa resident sings and plays guitar for the Fabulous Nomads, which bills itself as Orange County's oldest surf band. But during the week, he hardly lives the life of a roaming musician. Instead, he's firmly planted — in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, where he serves as elementary music specialist.

Fitzpatrick, who does most of his work at Rea Elementary School and Davis Magnet School, has worked in Newport-Mesa for two decades and helped coordinate music education since 2005. With the new school year beginning, Fitzpatrick spoke to the Daily Pilot about his teaching philosophies, his childhood and why he'll never tell Beethoven to roll over. Here are excerpts from the conversation:

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Let's talk a little about music education. In your mind, how important is music to a young kid starting out in school?

Studies prove… [laughs] Actually, I was fortunate. When I did my master's project, my title was "The Effects of Sustained Applied Arts Education on Student Achievement," and that means everything from attendance to applying for AP courses to whether or not there's truancy or vandalism … GPAs, test scores, all kinds of different kinds of data to describe what student achievement is.

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And I looked at students who were involved for a long period of time in hands-on arts activities — not necessarily talking about the art, but actually engaging in it, whether that be a hands-on ceramics class or a vocal class or a band class or drama or something of this nature, where students are actually actively engaged in the art form with a teacher, a specialist working with them. The results speak for themselves.

Specifically, what does it do for a student? In sports, they talk about how being on a team builds teamwork; it teaches responsibility. Can you point to the same thing with music education?

Yes, absolutely. I'm very much into sports. I was in sports all the way through school. I really believe that it's never an either/or when it comes to sports and music. They both teach the same basic elements and the buy-in to the community.

So when I was a band director at Davis ... that was the No. 1 thing I said students would learn. You're going to learn to read music, and that's a new language for you. You're going to learn to play the instruments. You're going to have this exciting feeling of playing in an ensemble, and what that is is teamwork.

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