When Westerville Central High School social studies teacher Matt Rees stumbled onto an article outlining how videos with copyrighted music are taken down, he immediately thought of his peers who are creating videos for their classes and students.
He said teaching is considered “fair use” and an exception for copyright protection but the software that catches it and the companies that take it down don't check that.
Rees, a singer/songwriter away from the classroom, is offering a resource he hopes can be useful to fellow educators: instrumental versions of his original music.
“I know there is free music out there, but it can be hard to find and some places require a subscription fee,” he said. “So I thought it would be easy to have a shared Google Drive with mp3 and wav files right there.”
Rees has more than a dozen instrumental tracks and another 16 tracks with vocals available for download. With song titles such as “Girl At the Window” and “Things That Saved My Life,” his music is mainly acoustic rock and varies in mood — from upbeat to reflective.
Rees hails from Westerville, starting at Mark Twain and Huber Ridge elementary schools and graduating from Westerville South High School in 1990. He has taught at the district for 26 years, first as a German language teacher before shifting to history.
He started playing music at age 12 when he received his first bass guitar. At 14, he was hired to play in a band and a year later, he spent most of his weekends performing at shows. By the time he finished high school, Rees had played in every state east of the Mississippi and Bermuda. His biggest crowd: about 12,000 kids at a Just Say No To Drugs parade in Columbus.
He started composing songs in high school and carried his passion for original music through college and beyond. Now, he mostly performs in shows at restaurants over the weekend. (If you’ve been to the Hofbräuhaus Columbus in Grandview and noticed a performer in lederhosen playing the accordion, it could have been Rees.) In the last few years, he has performed as The Self-Depricants at Woodland’s, Skully’s, and the Newport as well as county fairs, summer festivals, and weddings.
Rees continues to create original music and is willing to collaborate with teachers and staff who want a unique song to accompany their projects.
“If anyone at the district wants to work on stuff, I’m definitely in,” he said.