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2024 Yamaha "40 Under 40" educator Matthew Rupert

Matthew Rupert

Co-Founder, Clarinet/Piano Faculty, Little Mission Studio
Co-Founder, President of the Board, Make More Music Foundation
San Francisco, California

Little Mission Studio launched in 2014 to help meet the need for quality music education in San Francisco. Matthew Rupert and the other co-founders of the studio had been teaching privately out of their homes, and they saw the need for a school where they could combine their talents, offer more programming and improve the quality of instruction available to local students. “We started with just 20 or so students and three teachers, and we now employ 17 faculty — all professional musicians — who teach about 400 students,” says Rupert.

The studio was recently renovated and expanded, doubling the teaching and performance space, so that Rupert and his team can continue to grow their musical community with more studio classes, recitals and ensembles.  

“I’m really proud of our ‘composer of the week’ initiative,” Rupert says. “We highlight a new composer every week, and students collect ‘trading cards’ where they learn about the composer. We intentionally highlight diverse composers from different backgrounds and musical styles because we want to ensure that our students see themselves represented in the world of music. Our illustrator friend custom draws each new composer card, and it’s awesome to see our students learning about musicians like Clara Schumann, Nina Simone, Kaija Saariaho and so many more.”

In 2017, the Little Mission Jam Band was formed to provide a collaborative musical experience for students. “I love living in San Francisco, but it’s an odd quirk of the city that only a fraction of middle and high schools offer band or orchestra programs,” Rupert explains. “There are so many students with no ensemble playing and performance opportunities at school. Our Jam Band is the place for them!”

The Jam Band survived through the pandemic with online rehearsals. Multi-track performance videos were created and later, the band rehearsed outdoors in front of the studio. “So many students and parents expressed gratitude that we kept things going,” Rupert says.

In 2021, Rupert started a scholarship fund in his mother’s memory because she was an avid supporter of music education and the arts. It soon grew into a full-fledged nonprofit called the Make More Music Foundation. “In just our first couple of years, we have awarded over $20,000 in scholarship funds to young musicians to take private music lessons that they couldn’t afford to otherwise,” Rupert says. “We also curate and host regular, free educational concerts at community centers around the city. Last year’s concert series centered on music of the Americas and featured music by Latin and indigenous composers.”

Rupert also authored “Music for Broken Arms,” which features one-handed (for right and left hand) piano solos. No need to halt lessons for students who have injured a finger, hand or arm!