Redwood High Music allows students to express themselves through music – an art from and language in combination – one of the most challenging yet satisfying endeavors a person can experience. – John Mattern, Music Director”

Our Director

Since becoming Music Director in 2004, John Mattern has tripled enrollment, mentoring hundreds of students and encouraging a lifelong study and love of music. Classical music station KDFC named Mattern 2006 Music Educator of the Year, selecting him from among 600 school music teachers in Northern California. Mattern was first drawn into music as a sax player at age 12. He got serious at age 17 when he took up the 5 string banjo and bluegrass music, and ultimately went on to earn a Masters Degree in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory. An eclectic multi-instrumentalist, John is proficient in classical, jazz, folk, rock, blues and Americana genres.  Learn more at www.johnmattern.com.

Our Program

Redwood High’s Music Department offers students an outstanding opportunity to learn and excel in a variety of musical experiences – and to take that skill well into adulthood. Students explore music in three primary genres: jazz, classical, and commercial/pop. Every class focuses on theory, performance, appreciation, and practice. The emphasis is on striving for one’s personal best, developing musicianship, and becoming a humble, focused, grateful person in the process. All participants gain exposure to professional guest musicians and teachers, and attend fieldtrips to the SF Symphony, SF Jazz Center, Yosemite Valley and beyond. Students gain experience in both solo and ensemble work, performing for parents, peers, and the broader community. Having gained a reputation for excellence in the community, Redwood music students are frequently invited to perform at events throughout Marin. Numerous graduates have gone on to study music in college, and to find success as professional musicians.

Welcome back!

We’re looking forward to a great school year. Things are already gearing up in the Music Department. The advanced students travel to Yosemite at the end of September for a 3-night overnight and plenty of opportunities to jam with friends old and new. In October, the Jazz Band visits Yoshi’s in Oakland to enjoy Tommy Igoe’s big band sound. We’ll wrap up the semester with concerts at Redwood as well as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For more information on these and other upcoming events, check out the calendar.

Here’s what our graduates say

"Mr. Mattern’s APW class gave me the tools that I needed to have a great start at Berklee College of Music. His techniques will make you question yourself as a musician and as a person, but will prepare you perfectly for any challenge you may come across after Redwood. If you follow his instructions, you will be ahead of the game."

 Matthew Michna, Class of 2017
2017-11-10T12:27:23+00:00
"Mr. Mattern’s APW class gave me the tools that I needed to have a great start at Berklee College of Music. His techniques will make you question yourself as a musician and as a person, but will prepare you perfectly for any challenge you may come across after Redwood. If you follow his instructions, you will be ahead of the game."  Matthew Michna, Class of 2017
"Every impactful memory I have of my experience at Redwood ties back to Mr. Mattern. His music room was like a creative oasis for me, where an awkward, quiet, type A teenager could go and transform into a rock star. One day I was practicing jazz guitar during the lunch break when I should have been doing my homework. Mr. Mattern walked over, sat down next to me, and said 'I want you to know that your success in school is important, and that I know you will always try your hardest to get A’s. But you have a gift. Don't ever let anything take away the space for music in your life. You have the potential to do incredible things in music.' My life changed a bit after that. When a teacher sits down and tells you that you owe it to yourself to commit to a dream, you never forget that."

Christine Donaldson, Class of 2008
2017-04-18T11:05:55+00:00
"Every impactful memory I have of my experience at Redwood ties back to Mr. Mattern. His music room was like a creative oasis for me, where an awkward, quiet, type A teenager could go and transform into a rock star. One day I was practicing jazz guitar during the lunch break when I should have been doing my homework. Mr. Mattern walked over, sat down next to me, and said 'I want you to know that your success in school is important, and that I know you will always try your hardest to get A’s. But you have a gift. Don't ever let anything take away the space for music in your life. You have the potential to do incredible things in music.' My life changed a bit after that. When a teacher sits down and tells you that you owe it to yourself to commit to a dream, you never forget that." Christine Donaldson, Class of 2008
"My favorite memory was the first time I performed an original song at the Advanced Performance Workshop Showcase. I sang a song called, ‘Time Will Tell,’ accompanied on the piano by Jason Zucker. It was one of my most rewarding moments."

Anika Wells, Class of 2014
2017-04-18T11:05:36+00:00
"My favorite memory was the first time I performed an original song at the Advanced Performance Workshop Showcase. I sang a song called, ‘Time Will Tell,’ accompanied on the piano by Jason Zucker. It was one of my most rewarding moments." Anika Wells, Class of 2014
“Listening sessions in the music room (during class and outside of class). Walking around Redwood with a tuba in hand, jamming Dirty Dozen Brass Band lines with different students. Definitely traveling to Mattern’s property in Ukiah, where he hosted all of us for food and hiking.”

Jackson Hillmer, Class of 2010
2017-04-18T11:05:18+00:00
“Listening sessions in the music room (during class and outside of class). Walking around Redwood with a tuba in hand, jamming Dirty Dozen Brass Band lines with different students. Definitely traveling to Mattern’s property in Ukiah, where he hosted all of us for food and hiking.” Jackson Hillmer, Class of 2010
“I was a member of the maiden voyage of John’s music program at Redwood. He is an inspiring guy to be around and a very high level player, especially for high school kids to be fortunate enough to spend time with. Particularly memorable was him bringing in guitarist Alex Degrassi to put on a jam session for the class. Thanks John!”

Greg Sellin, Class of 2005
2017-04-18T11:04:59+00:00
“I was a member of the maiden voyage of John’s music program at Redwood. He is an inspiring guy to be around and a very high level player, especially for high school kids to be fortunate enough to spend time with. Particularly memorable was him bringing in guitarist Alex Degrassi to put on a jam session for the class. Thanks John!” Greg Sellin, Class of 2005
"The great elegance, intelligence and worth of the music teachers present at that time that gave so much more than music – Sidney Gordon and J.D. Nichols and the fabulous events and learning experiences that they were able to afford us at the time. It was a very special and worthwhile place to be!"

Gerard Leclerc, Class of 1974
2017-08-29T16:49:39+00:00
"The great elegance, intelligence and worth of the music teachers present at that time that gave so much more than music – Sidney Gordon and J.D. Nichols and the fabulous events and learning experiences that they were able to afford us at the time. It was a very special and worthwhile place to be!" Gerard Leclerc, Class of 1974