Mr Fitz-Patrick Engaged in Excellence Award

The Engaged in Excellence award is an award given by the Elmbrook School district to employees that have been found to go above and beyond in their TEACHING ENDEAVORS.


Ryan Fitz-Patrick, (commonly just called “Mr. Fitz) is one of Brookfield Central’s newest teachers, taking over as head of the Orchestra this 2022-2023 school year. 


Although I’m involved only in the school band, I was in Mr. Fitz’s Digital Music class last term, so I did end up having him. From my experience, I found he was very enthusiastic about the class, and although it was a new one and there were definitely some kinks that needed to be worked out, it was probably the most fun I’ve had in a class this year. 

But, don’t just listen to me describe Mr. Fitz- READ IT YOURSELF!!!

I interviewed Mr. Fitz wanting to get some more information about him to students that may not be familiar with him. 


HL: So! Mr. Fitz! You’ve been nominated for the Engaged in Excellence Award! 

Fitz: Yes!

HL: Nice job!

Fitz: Thank you!


HL:So I’m doing an interview for the tyro… school newspaper. And I’ve got some questions.

Fitz: Ok.

HL:First off, where else have you taught?

Fitz: Before I was here at Brookfield Central I was teaching music visitation at the University of Alaska Fairbanks right in the middle of the state. I was there five years. I have been a self-employed teacher in the past, and prior to that, I taught middle school orchestra and kindergarten music at an Illinois school.

HL: Alright, didn’t you say you were in Ireland too at some point?

Fitz: I did some student teaching in Ireland, I was in Ireland for about three and a half months. I arrived there on St. Patrick’s day

HL: Whoa!!!

Fitz: So it was quite the celebration.


HL: Cool. Did you like living in Alaska?

Fitz: Yeah, it’d be a second or third home. I’ve been back twice this last year so I’ll probably go back again this year.


HL: Who would you say are some famous musicians you’ve met in your time being a musician?

Fitz: The most famous musician I’ve met was Yo-Yo Ma. He’s a UN ambassador for peace and stuff so he’s quite internationally known. Very personable. Very ideal. For somebody so well known you’d think that they’d have some sort of an ego or something but Yo-Yo is just an exemplary human. So in terms of famous people, he’s probably furthest up the chain.


HL: Cool. Alright, some more music questions! How many instruments can you play?

Fitz:I play the cello primarily. I play it professionally although I sort of jokingly say “I try to play it.” (laughs) with some humility. I play some moderate piano and I really enjoy playing the guitar. Not in any professional way, just something I like to do. I’d also say the piano and the guitar. I also have tried concertina before.

HL: Oh yeah that’s the accordion kind of thing. 

Fitz: Yeah, kind of a small little accordion. That’s also a good time. 

HL:Can you play like sea shanties on that?

Fitz: That would be exactly what it’s for. 

HL: Ok, and like a French cafe. 

Fitz: That’s right. (laughs)


HL: Alright, so what’s it like to teach two different schools’ orchestras? At like, the same time?

Fitz: Yeah, I think folks kinda think of them as being the same thing but they really have their own strengths and opportunities for growth I think. Brookfield Central has a larger ensemble this year- have had a large ensemble. East has a smaller ensemble so the reporter is different just because of the number of musicians. Some folks take lessons and some don’t and I think all of those play into that. Both schools seem to get along, they’re just completely different communities. So that’s where I think the differences are, they’re really turned into different programming choices because of numbers and just what we have available.


HL: How is it also to teach an additional Digital Music class?

Fitz: Yeah! Digital Music is cool! Digital music is working with populations of musicians in the school that haven’t been in an orchestra or band or a choir for a number of years, yet have a lot of musical intuition and really enjoy music and I feel like that’s been or was really insightful and inspiring to work with a different population of musicianship at the school. I was very impressed with the musical output and willingness to get feedback and try stuff and fail a little bit but also succeed a lot. And it was a great experience musically. 


HL: Alright, and one more question. What is “Drop the Needle?”*

Fitz: Drop the needle is an old, not really old, but old enough term sort of putting a record on a record player and then putting the needle down somewhere in the album and identifying where it is in the song or where it could be. So, a modern version of that: starting at a random playlist of music starting in the middle of a song and guessing the song, artist, genre, etc. Whether it’s rock, hip-hop, skiffle, or other. (laughs)

HL: Clap ensemble!‡

Fitz: Yes, clap ensemble. (laughs) Yes.


HL:Alright that’s it.

Fitz:Thank you Hayden!
HL: Yeah thanks.


Thanks for reading!


*Drop the needle was a game commonly played in Digital Music when we had downtime. A lot of times people would repeatedly ask to play it because it was SO FUN!!!


† Skiffle is a somewhat obscure genre of folk music inspired by American folk music, blues, bluegrass, and jazz. This was a running joke in the class when we randomly heard about some genre none of us had heard of. To be honest I still have no idea what it is. It kinda just sounds like bluegrass to me. Except maybe people are like banging on trash cans or something instead of drums? I don’t know. Is anyone reading this? Does anyone read the tyro? If you’re reading this right now please advertise it. Also, listen to some skiffle. I’m listening to some right now as I’m writing this actually. Pretty catchy.

‡ The Clap Ensemble was a group in the Digital Music class that consisted of a few talented individuals who loved to clap loudly in rhythm every time applause was given.