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An Eye for Art: Always a musician, recently an artist, Westminster’s Shuman continues ‘amazing journey’

Matthew Shuman, of Westminster, is pictured playing one of his original music pieces on the piano.
Matthew Shuman, of Westminster, is pictured playing one of his original music pieces on the piano. (Courtesy photo)

Matthew C. Shuman is an artist and musician from Westminster. “I was inspired to play the piano when I was seven years old. My family was very musical. My parents both played the piano as did my brother,” Shuman said.

When Shuman was able to study an instrument in school, he chose the trumpet. His father had also played the trumpet. Shuman played the trumpet until he was a senior in high school and kept taking piano lessons. Music has always been a part of his life.

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Shuman knew he wanted to do something with music as a career and decided to major in Music Education at the University of Delaware. He chose the piano as a focus instrument. As an extracurricular activity, Shuman was also a member of an a cappella group called Vocal Point. The group performed on campus and across the northeast at many different colleges. It was also where he met his wife.

When Shuman graduated from college with a BA in Music Education, he got a job teaching instrumental music at Montgomery County Public Schools where he still teaches. When he and his wife got married, they moved to Westminster.

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Shuman has always had a passion for writing solo piano music, writing his first piece, “Mixed Emotions” at the age of 12. He had written many pieces, but mostly just kept his compositions to himself. He was encouraged by family and friends to do something with his music, so he created his first album.

Because he was a fan of weather as well as music, Shuman noticed the music that played in the background when The Weather Channel was on. When he went to their website, Shuman saw that you could submit your music for consideration for use on their programming. In 2010, Shuman mailed a CD to The Weather Channel. The channel chose select musicians from around the country and played their music on air. When his music was chosen to be played on air, it changed his writing career.

In 2011, The Weather Channel requested permission to play many of his solo piano pieces and featured them nationwide on their “Local on the 8s” segments. “It was a total learning experience for me,” he said. He had to learn about copyrighting, registering and selling rights for his music to be played.

He submitted his music to Broadcast Music Incorporated. The music is registered to the artist. In order for someone to use the piece of music, they have to contact BMI. They keep track of when and where it is used and the royalties owed to the musician. Depending on where it is played, there are different fees.

“In 2012, there was Hurricane Sandy,” Shuman said. “The predominant music piece The Weather Channel used for airing information about the hurricane was the piano piece I wrote titled ‘Chasing the Wind’. That is when my music got unprecedented exposure and took off.”

Since The Weather Channel never put the name of the artist in the forecast, people had to make an effort to find out who the artist was. “It was an amazing and humbling experience to see so many people interested in my music and until that point I had never had anything like that happen,” Shuman said.

Shuman continues to write and produce albums. He has performed locally at The Music Café in Damascus. Shuman sells his CDs on his website, www.matthewcshuman.com and they are also available to download and stream on Amazon, iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and other major digital download services. He continues playing trumpet in the Maryland Band Director’s Band.

Along with his music, Shuman discovered a new hidden talent; drawing and oil painting. In December 2017, Shuman’s father passed away. His father was good at drawing.

“I always admired my dad’s drawing ability ever since I was a kid. He drew and painted for fun, but he never pursued his talent. I never gave it much thought if I had any of that ability until one day I was thinking about him. I was missing him, so I just picked up a pencil and started to draw," Shuman said. "Something clicked and I was hooked! I decided to draw one picture a day to see what would happen. I spent two to three hours or so a day over the next many months learning new techniques with each new drawing, trying to improve a bit with each one.”

He kept working at it. “It has been an amazing journey for me. I am going to keep working at it and see where this new found ability takes me,” Shuman said.

Shuman has started doing commissioned drawings for people, especially of pets for presents this past holiday season. “I have personally gravitated toward animals. Each animal has its own personality and I try to bring it out when I draw it,” he explained.

The medium he prefers is pencil. He has tried pen and ink but likes the freedom of pencil. He has also experimented with his father’s oil paints.

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“Without art and music, I would be a completely different person. I turn to art or music when I need to take a break from reality, it allows me to get back to feeling like myself," Shuman said. “For me, ever since I started writing music, it has been an escape for me. It relieves stress. It connects with nature which inspires both my writing and art. I am also inspired by life experiences, both good and bad.”

He can be contacted on Facebook at The Music and Art of Matthew C. Shuman, on Instagram @matthewcshuman, through his website www.matthewcshuman.com or his email at matthew.shuman@comcast.net.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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