BYU-Idaho has many options for students to join musical groups, even if they’re not music majors.
Senior arts student Matthew Gonzalez plays guitar in Jazz Combos and in the school’s Jazz ensemble, Sound Alliance. He is also known around campus as a local stand-up comedian and all-round talented person.
Gonzalez said that early in his life, comedy was something he aspired to do. He said his second grade teacher told him, “Matt, you should grow up and be a comedian. That always kind of stuck with me.”
Initially, Gonzalez played the saxophone in middle school and high school band. He was inspired by a video game, Guitar Hero: Metallica, to learn the guitar. His mother didn’t want him to have the game.
“So, I bought a real guitar to spite my mom,” Gonzalez said. “And now I’m majoring in it! So, that’s how I got started.”
Along with a love of Metallica and other rock artists, Gonzalez has many other artistic idols, both in comedy and in music. He named Mike Birbiglia and Olan Rogers as some of his favorite comedians and described the first time he listened to Django Reinhardt.
“I remember the first time I heard his music it was my world had changed,” he said. “My ears were hearing something totally brand new. My brain had never comprehended something so cool before.”
When it comes to performing for others, Gonzalez said he has a complex, love-hate relationship with it.
“I feel like I have to throw up before every performance but the moment I get on stage, all that goes away and I feel like, ‘O yeah. This is my place. I know how to work this,’” he said.
Along with playing, Gonzalez has also composed several pieces of music. The song he’s most proud of is titled, “Will You Bring Me Back to This Place.” Gonzalez said the meaning behind the piece is that people need each other, and we can help lift each other up.
Gonzalez also teaches private guitar lessons. He has almost a dozen private students, some travel from as far as Island Park for their guitar lessons. He said the true reward of teaching is seeing his students love performing.
“It was really satisfying for me to see how happy it made him to be able to play live music and to play music that he loves,” he said.
After graduating this semester, Gonzalez dreams about moving to California and creating a show that mixes his love of stand-up comedy with music. Gonzalez will be featured in Jazz Combos and Sound Alliance this semester, along with smaller student recitals where he will play a mix of electric jazz and acoustic classical music.
To see videos of his comedy sets and guitar skills, find him on Instagram. (@matthew.gonzalez.9085.)