From goodbye to hello

Orchestra teacher joins former middle school students at high school


It’s the last day of school and he closes his doors after the heartfelt goodbyes, sending his eighth graders off to high school. He goes to his computer, logs onto his email and begins typing: “Mustang Orchestra Family… I am moving to Hebron as the new orchestra director and cluster leader.”

Former Killian Middle School orchestra director, Matthew Cautivar, has taken the position of Hebron’s new orchestra director, previously filled by Dawn Oyedipe.

“Music was always a big part of my life from the beginning,” Cautivar said. “I started off on the violin when I was three and a half, and so it’s been a part of my memories growing up. As I got older and closer to college, I had to start thinking about what I wanted to focus on [and] I realized I wanted to share my love for music with people around me and to continue it with future generations.”

This year will be Cautivar’s seventh year of teaching music, and his fifth year at Lewisville Independent School District.

“I had known that he might be taking it over,” orchestra president Ankita Padarthy said. “But I wasn’t going to get my hopes up because many things could’ve happened. I thought that [it] was really cool because I only had him for one year and everybody coming from Killian were all such strong players. Eighth grade was probably my favorite year in orchestra so far and he was a big reason for that.”

After teaching seven classes a day at Killian, Cautivar has been adjusting to teaching three at Hebron.

“[The] transition from middle school has been exciting,” Cautivar said. “When I was at Killian, everything I did was about middle school being a mini high school and preparing students for high school. And now that I’m here, our focus is for the next level. For some students that’s the 10th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade and for some of them applying for college and getting ready for that and that’s the next step for us.”

Through scholarships, Cautivar studied at UNT as a violin concentration in Music Education and graduated with honors. After graduation, he took up his first teaching position at Frankfurt Middle School for two years and then went to Killian for four years.

“The most important thing for me as a teacher at Killian was that we’d get a teacher here at Hebron who could help us get the best orchestra experience at the high school level,” Cautivar said. “So I realized that I wanted to be a part of that.”

Cautivar plans to modernize the orchestra room and program by replacing paper concert programs with digital ones.

“He’s definitely really passionate about music and you can just tell that music is in every single part of his life and I think that’s what makes him so good at it,” Padarthy said. “But his style of teaching is one where he does try to push everyone to be the best that they can be and he doesn’t care what it takes. Not all teachers are going to always push you to be better but he will push you and will make sure he’s helping your grow. And he recognizes that a lot of people in orchestra have performance anxiety but he’s really good at helping people see past that.”

Cautivar’s goal is to develop the program to the highest level of quality by increasing the size of the program, which provides more options for the orchestras.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing bass in orchestra,” freshman chamber bass player Aiden Burnett said. “He’s helped me through things like if I couldn’t do a passage or if I wanted to go to region, he’s helped me push myself more and that’s allowed me to work more and be where I am today.”

Former middle school students, Padarthy, Burnett and junior chamber cellist Isaac Ke have expressed relief in having someone familiar like Cautivar take the new position.

“I think that part of being in orchestra is about the relationships with the people you play with and the director,” junior chamber cellist Ke said. “And I think it’s good we can openly talk to Mr. Cautivar, he’s like a kid honestly at heart and it’s easier to connect with him.”

Cautivar has been using his 90-minute conference period to collaborate and continue to further the connection between the orchestras of Hebron and feeder middle schools, like Killian, which is now directed by Ezra Hood.

“I never thought I’d leave Killian because it really felt like home,” Cautivar said. “But now that I’m here at Hebron, it’s starting to feel like home too.”