Mitch Fund could have been a mathematician or a physicist. Ultimately he realized he was a musician.
But he’s not the kind of musician — his first instrument is drums but he plays piano, as well — who wants to get up on arena stages night after night and play for tens of thousands of people.
Fund, 20, is the kind of musician who wants to teach the next generation while continuing to be a student of his craft.
These days he teaches at Dace’s Rock ‘n’ More, in fact he has been teaching there since before he graduated from high school, but he’s also got his hands in a number of other areas.
It started when he was in grade school, Fund said, because he always liked music.
“I had an uncle who was a drummer and he sent me some drum videos,” he said. “The school band happened in fifth grade. I played drums all the way through high school.”
Though he briefly changed his mind and hoped to switch to trumpet, his mother insisted he stick with his choice, and so he did.
When Fund started taking classes at Green River Community College as a Running Start student while still at Kentlake High, he dove headlong into music theory in addition to taking high level math and science courses.
His parents encouraged him to find a career path in a field where he could make a decent salary but he found those classes less inspiring.
Music, however, had an appeal to him. It challenged him in ways those math and science classes could not.
He has started a collection of books on music on all different topics and eras that he devours on a regular basis.
“I’ve gotten as many books on music as I could,” he said. “I read them all the time because I’m a nerd. There’s always more to learn. That’s why I’ve got so many books.”
It was in a music theory class, he recalled, where he learned about modulation and it made his mind explode, figuratively speaking.
And when he told his parents he wanted to be a musician, they were skeptical at first, but as he has moved forward in his education they have become supportive, Fund said.
He will soon finish at Green River and begin taking music theory courses at Bellevue College in the fall.
“I figure if I’m going to do something with music and make no money, I should also be educated,” Fund said. “It’s also fun. It’s great to know what you’re playing.”
Through all of his music education pursuits he has become a mainstay at Dace’s Rock ‘n’ More.
“I really like teaching drum lessons,” Fund said. “At first, when I started six years ago just teaching beginner drum lessons, it was just to make a little bit of money. When I started teaching more I realized how cool it was to see someone start from nothing to being in a band.”
He first contacted the music school on its MySpace profile. It took a while before Dace Anderson, founder and president of the school, and Arielle Young, who teaches there, finally got in touch.
Young called in response to the message on MySpace.
“They asked me if I wanted to be in a band so they had me come in and try out,” Fund said. “They were also looking for someone for the faculty band. Then they found out that I taught drum lessons on the side… so I started teaching here.”
Young explained that Fund’s passion for music is evident when he’s teaching.
“He reminds me of one of those science teachers you have in high school who wears the fishing vest who is really excited and you can tell,” she said. “He can be teaching a lesson and you can hear him yell because he’s really excited.”
Fund said that acting like a dork during lessons, conversing with his students, trying to get them to be comfortable with the music or the band they’ve started or to help them keep up the energy by doing jumping jacks seemingly out of nowhere is one of the things he loves about teaching.
“I go to work happy,” he said. “I enjoy it. I’d rather have a fun job. I get to have fun teaching lessons. Yeah, you have troublesome students that drive you nuts because they don’t practice, but, for the most part it’s pretty sweet.”
These days he works with 20 students teaching individual lessons and three bands on a weekly basis.
On top of all that he grades music theory papers at Green River and has also gotten into composition, including composing film scores, and also drums for Sealth, a band that Anderson and Young formed a few years ago at the school.
Composition and teaching are what he sees as his career path.
“I don’t have an urge to play in front of millions of people,” he said. “I just want to teach and play for fun.”
And it seems there is nothing he better suited to do than be a musician.