Solo performances, theater productions and choir competitions: These are the things junior Matt Rood lives and breathes.
“I’ve always really liked singing,” Rood said. “It’s something I’ve always done.”
Rood began his involvement in choir at a young age.
“I started [doing] Choristers, an offshoot of the Lawrence Children’s Choir, when I was in third grade,” Rood said. “I just took off from there. I’ve been doing it ever since then.”
Earlier this year, Rood competed in Northeast Kansas All-District Choir. Members of the choir had to first pass a rigorous audition, which included sight reading and the memorization of several pieces, to be able to compete.
“They were really cool pieces,” Rood said. “I sang this German piece that was really sweet. It was called ‘An Die Musik.’ The other one was like this fast, high piece that showed off my range, and I did all these melismas that were crazy.”
Rood’s dedication and musical abilities have not gone unnoticed by choir director Dwayne Dunn.
“Matt continues to develop both vocally and in his leadership skills,” Dunn said. “He has amazing range and flexibility for such a young singer. We will really count on his senior leadership next year.”
Rood’s musical talents aren’t solely vocal. He also plays piano and aspires to be better at playing ukulele.
For the past two years, Rood has been taking private voice lessons with his voice teacher, Susan Hiers.
Initially in his voice lessons, Rood worked on classical and Broadway music, but is now branching into more variety.
“[Recently,] I’ve been getting into more pop stuff and exploring all different kinds of music,” Rood said.
When Rood made the switch to different genres of music, he wanted to get people’s opinions. He began recording himself singing and posting videos on social media sites like Facebook.
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Rood said. “I love to sing, play piano and share that with people. I feel like if I can share how I feel about a song with someone, then they can understand how I feel about other stuff too.”
Rood’s friend sophomore Clara Cobb has seen many of the videos and has also noticed the positive feedback Rood has received as a result.
“There’s always at least 30 or 40 people that are just like, ‘Yeah, you go Matt. You keep doing what you’re doing’ and he should,” Cobb said. “He’s wonderful. He really is.”
Hiers has been working with Rood to perfect his performance of the piece “Many the Miles” by Sara Bareilles for the past two years. He auditioned the piece for Showtime and will be performing it as a solo along with five other songs. This is something he has been working toward for years.
“I’ve always wanted to be in Showtime,” Rood said. “I’ve kept a running list of songs I’ve wanted to do since I saw it years ago.”
He will be performing a solo, a duet with junior Katie Gaches, a trio with seniors Taylor Moldenhaur and Morgan Schneider, as well as in a small ensemble, A Cappella choir and Chorale choir.
Being so involved can sometimes take its toll.
“Sometimes, I bite off more than I can chew. I’ll do everything I need to do and it’ll be really difficult, but then I’ll get sick,” Rood said. “I gave myself pneumonia one year when I was in Music Band, two choirs and Jazz Band.”
In addition to an extensive musical background, Rood is also heavily involved in theater.
“I’m currently in my sixth show at LHS,” Rood said. “At the [Lawrence] Arts Center, I’ve been doing shows with Summer Youth Theater since the summer after fourth grade.”
Rood has received many leading roles in plays and musicals.
When Rood was in eighth grade, he played a controversial role in a musical at the Lawrence Arts Center.
“I played Margaret Mead in ‘Hair,’ and I had to completely dress as a woman,” Rood said.
Last summer, Rood was the lead in “Cabaret,” a musical performed by the Lawrence Arts Center’s Summer Youth Theater.
“He was fantastic in ‘Cabaret’,” Cobb said. “He’s very, very talented.”
His most recent performance was “Fiddler on The Roof” at LHS, in which Rood sang a solo.
“I really enjoyed working with Matt on the LHS Musical, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ this winter,” Dunn said. “He did a great job with his character and could be counted on every show to deliver a strong performance.”
Rood plans to pursue a musical theater major in college.
“Matt has so much music in him,” Dunn said. “It is hard for me to see his future without a serious interest in music.”
For Rood, it is also hard to see a future for himself that doesn’t include music.
“I feel like it’s an emotional expression. I can put things in a song that I can’t really say with words,” Rood said. “It means everything. I don’t think I could deal with stuff if I didn’t have singing and acting.”