Learn More About Dr. Mordhorst!

Metta Pollio, Contributor

Metta: Hi Dr. Mordhorst I’m here to ask you a few questions about your teaching experience!

Dr. Mordhorst: I’d be happy to! Let’s get started. 

Metta: Firstly, what made you decide to start teaching music?

Dr. Mordhorst: I always consider myself to be a teacher first, and a musician second. I think that really great teachers love working with kids and that the subject matter kind of comes next. I had a bunch of really great teachers in high school that inspired me to become a teacher. And then it was, what am I going to teach? Because I had a biology teacher that I really loved and had a math teacher that I really loved. But at the same time, I was also getting pretty good at my instrument. And so that’s how that kind of fell into place.

Metta: Wow, that’s great! What instruments did you play growing up?

Dr. Mordhorst: So in fourth grade, we started band in fourth grade, I played the trumpet. And I really hated it, actually. And this is a story I’ve told a lot. At the end of fourth grade, I decided I didn’t want to play the trumpet anymore. I went into fifth-grade band on the first day of school. I went to the band room with my trumpet in hand, ready to hand it in to the teacher and say, I quit, I’m out. And I was surprised it was a new teacher in the room. They had switched from a different elementary school and I said, I don’t want to play the trumpet anymore. I’m out. He said, “wait a minute, I have an idea.” He said, “hold on a second,” and handed me a euphonium. And so then he put it in my hands. I started playing it and like instantly, I loved it. I’m like, okay, I’ll stick with this. So because of that one teacher, it had this impact on my life, I wouldn’t have been in band any longer. I definitely wouldn’t have been a band teacher now. And many, many years down the line. Well, in between there, so I should go in order. So I played the euphonium and then in middle school, I started picking up the trombone and the tuba. And those are the three instruments that I play the most. But as a band teacher, you play flute, clarinet, sax, you play a little bit of everything. But you also have your instruments that you’re sort of like more proficient at. And so many years down the road, that same elementary band teacher called me up and said, I’m retiring, do you want to come and conduct my last concert? And so I got to go do that. And that was very cool.

Metta: That is very cool, what is your favorite thing about teaching music?

Dr. Mordhorst: I love the sound of a band. I love the sound that a big band makes in a room when they can go make a difference of dynamics of playing something big and powerful, right to something soft and gentle. And watching the eyes of the people in the room really enjoying making that beautiful sound together.

Metta: When you aren’t teaching, what are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?

Dr. Mordhorst: I was saying this to the kids the other day, I’m kind of thinking about band 24/7. It’s kind of all I ever really think about a lot of times, yeah. I’m sitting at night looking at new scores, new music, you know, catching up on things I need to do with work. It is a big, big part of my life. I have my family here in the district, and we’re all musicians. My wife is a music teacher, my son, Jaxx, in eighth grade is a tuba and trombone player, and my daughter, Allie, in fourth grade is a bass player. So there’s some music going on in the house. And then we just enjoy our time with each other. We enjoy our animals, we have a dog and four guinea pigs. Two of the guinea pigs have very, very long names. Because I hate to end 2020 I let my bands name them and somebody decided they wanted to torture my family for a few years. So two of the guinea pigs are Jimmy-John Wolfeschlegelsteinhauserbergerdorff and Jimmy-John Wolfeschlegelsteinhauserbergerdorff Jr. Our dog is Bowser and we have two other guinea pigs that are Squeak and Egg. So yeah, we love animals, it’s definitely a passion of ours. That’s really nice.

Metta: Woah, that is a lot of guinea pigs! What’s your favorite instrument to play?

Dr. Mordhorst:  Probably the tuba. It’s my primary. It’s the thing I play the best, yeah.

Metta: Finally what has been your past experience in music? Anything significant?

Dr. Mordhorst: Oh, just like things that I’ve done. Yeah. There are a couple of things that come to mind. I loved to take bands from here to Carnegie Hall twice, which was fantastic. I’ve done some projects with some of the academic teachers where we’ve combined art and music and literature. We did one about this piece called the Seal Lullaby and some of the English teachers worked on The White Seal by Rudyard Kipling at the same time and we’ve sort of like collaborated loved doing that.

Metta: I heard that you played in a band of 264 horns?

Dr. Mordhorst: Yeah I did! I’m a world record holder. Oh, wow. That was a few years ago. I don’t remember the number. I looked it up and I was like, our group is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. That was a really fun day. They counted us as we went on stage and we played the French Horn.  It was me and one student from here. Yeah, that was super fun. That was was really great. I spent some time conducting a college band as an associate conductor at Hofstra. That was fantastic. I’m lucky I’ve had a lot of really great experiences.

Metta: Thank you for your time!

Dr. Mordhorst: No problem!