Mr. Greg Schultz has been around Fargo North for the past five years teaching orchestra. Many know him as the quirky, musical genius who has made many of his past classes go outside and hit rocks together to make music, but there’s much more to Mr. Schultz than most Spartans know about. Welcome to Behind the Mask of Teachers with Mr. Schultz.
Schultz spent most of his childhood living in Grand Forks, though he did spend a few years in Kansas City. Growing up, his favorite memory was when they had a Swedish foreign exchange student for a whole year while he was in fourth grade. He and his family got to visit her in Stockholm in the summer for two to three weeks. While they were there, they got to see her graduate from high school and tour the city.
“I got to experience a lot of cool things and hang out with her. It was a really fun time,” said Schultz.
Schultz then went on to high school at Red River High, where he spent a lot of his time in extracurriculars. Schultz, as expected, was involved in a variety of music groups. He played the violin in the school orchestra and youth symphony, and he played the piano in jazz band all four years. He also was involved in Knowledge Masters (more commonly known now as Knowledge Bowl), and he played basketball and football through his first two years of high school.
“I started to actually want to get better at my music around my junior year, so I really started practicing and kind of putting all of my other activities to the side,” said Schultz.
Schultz began nurturing his musical talents when he was in Kindergarten by learning the piano. After that, he started taking violin lessons around third grade and continued playing both instruments through high school. After college, he started to learn the viola and pick up on more instruments as he became a music teacher.
As of now, Schultz’s favorite string instrument is the double bass. He’s currently practicing this instrument more and trying to improve his skill, which is helping him grow in appreciation for this lovely, large instrument.
“I’m coming across a lot of professional recordings and man there is a lot of depth of sound to that instrument,” said Schultz in awe.
Schultz received his bachelor’s degree from Luther College in piano performance (I know, very surprising). He did some orchestra stuff on the side in college but focused most of his time on playing piano both as a soloist and an accompanist. At this point in his life, he had “no intention whatsoever of teaching.”
He then received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in musicology, which is the study of all things music-related (music history, music, analysis, etc.). This was the moment he started thinking about possibly teaching in college, as he loved the music academia. It was short-lived though, as he soon realized that being a music professor was much more research-intensive, rather than the one-on-one time with students that you get with younger grades.
“I don’t think I would’ve been entirely happy if I had stuck around with academia,” said Schultz.
Schultz had spent his summers working at music camps as a counselor, and decided that he was “not bad at teaching.” He also enjoyed being around high school students and teaching them strings, even though that was not his main instrument. After this realization, he moved back to North Dakota for some graduate work at the University of North Dakota and got his teaching license as well.
He realized more and more that he would love to be an orchestra teacher, as he reflected back on his own time being in high school orchestra. He remembered he enjoyed having the same director throughout high school and making relationships with fellow musicians. Schultz also had many personal influencers who helped him realize even more this was the right career path for him.
“A lot of people encouraged me and said, ‘No, you’re meant to do this. You’re good at it. You should do it,’” Schultz said.
Schultz was one of the lucky ones, who got to student-teach at his alma mater, Red River High. The best thing Schultz got out of his student teaching experience was gaining confidence. As most people would expect, student teaching can be a very nerve-wracking experience.
“You go in front of the class and there’s a lot of ‘umms’ and ‘uhs’ and hesitancy, even though you prepared your lesson,” said Schultz.
Luckily for Schultz, the students he had were very nice and helped give him the confidence that he can be a great orchestra teacher.
In the past five years of being a teacher, Schultz has many fun and weird memories at Fargo North. He shared one in particular that is quite strange. Once he had to tell a student, who has since graduated from North, “you put the bow on the string, not in your mouth.” Schultz is still surprised he ever had to utter those words out loud to a student.
Lately, Schultz has been spending his time outside of the orchestra room working on the house he has recently purchased.
“I go to the hardware store all the time, annoy people with questions, and spend all my paycheck on things,” Schultz said.
Schultz likes to fix and/or make things in and outside of his house, so this project has been enjoyable amid the obvious stress. He also enjoys watching TV shows and reading books when he has some free time. Currently, his new favorite show is The Expanse, but he loves science fiction shows and anything else people suggest to him to watch.
I think many would agree with Schultz that Jim Parsons would be the perfect celebrity to play him in a movie, as they both have dry humor. However, people have also told Schultz that young Dwight Schultz would look very similar to him if he had glasses on.
An interesting fun fact about Schultz is he is able to do some pretty good impersonations of people. He does not consider himself a professional at this skill, but he can mimic different sounds and voices quite well.
Though Schultz is a piano performance major and still thinks it would be a cool job to be a collaborative pianist, he is very much happy with his spot in the Spartan music family and hopes to continue being here for as long as he can.
“I am happy to be here at North. I’m going into my sixth year next year and I hope to do six more.”