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Success Stories

Matthew Arau unlocks the musical superpowers within everyone he meets.  His infectious optimism and spirit of gratitude naturally shine through as he inspires students and teachers alike to pursue their passion for music.  Having been immersed in Matthew's message of Upbeat Leadership and the power of positivity at CSI, as well as with the NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles and with my own high school students in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, I can say without a doubt that he brings innovation, empathy, and energy to a whole new level.  My outlook on music education and enthusiasm for teaching has been forever changed because I crossed paths with Matthew.  I can't wait to see what's next as he encourages us all to go beyond our best!

— Scott R. Sheehan, NAfME National President (2020-2022) & Director of Bands & Music Dept. Chair, Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School

What Music Educators are Saying

What a gift you are, Matthew! We are so fortunate to have had you share such an impactful life/leadership perspective with us and our awesome students. I am looking forward to our next collaboration. We all need this training every-single-year! 

Tamara Williams, Choir Director, Traverse City Central High School, Michigan

I just had my first meeting with the Leadership Council since we attended your online camp. I wish you could be a fly on the wall to hear how your positivity was just the inspiration they needed to help kick off this year feeling invigorated and fresh instead of defeated and sad…We are forging ahead to create music education 2.0! Thank you for having an impact on my students and my program through your work. It’s so obvious that you have found your soul‘s purpose.

Lesley Moffat, Band Director, Jackson High School, Mill Creek, Washington

WOW— such a GREAT session.  I feel hopeful rather than despair.  We don’t know what music will look like next year but I am so thankful for remembering the joy of music and the reason why we do this.

Colleen, Conn-Selmer Institute Participant

Dr. Matthew Arau and Upbeat Global prepare students for the downbeat of dynamic leadership. The positive messages and materials are pertinent to the current obstacles many of our ensembles face during the pandemic.  After attending the academy, my Drum Majors immediately went to work creating a positive and inclusive atmosphere as well as re-energizing our mission in pursuit of a culture of excellence.

Mark Kinzer, Band Director, Fairview High School, Fairview, Tennessee

Sending my student leaders to The Upbeat Global Leadership Academy was an easy decision! The students came back inspired, motivated to serve their section/band in a more meaningful way, and even took the initiative to reach out to incoming band members before our band camp activities began! What I heard most often from them was that they enjoyed getting to meet students from all over the country and even across the world. For them, connecting with other student leaders was extremely impactful and something that they will take along with them for the rest of their lives! Thank you to the entire staff for providing them with the tools to be successful student leaders!

Allison Lacasse, Band Director, Belmont High School, Belmont, Massachusetts

Inspiring – I was really impressed by Dr. Arau’s ability to keep our student leaders engaged for hours at our first ever “virtual” leadership camp.  The positivity he brought to the camp was truly amazing.  Our students learned more than they thought they would and the content covered really gave us an amazing start to this school year!

W. Andrew Buttermore, Associate Director of Bands, Ames Senior High School, Ames, Iowa

Working with Dr. Arau for the past seven years has been one of the best decisions our band program has made. The positive, customized approach to leadership has empowered our students and vaulted our program to new heights. His ability to give every student a voice and empower them to take action has given our students the confidence and tools to enact actual lasting positive change in our band program.  He has worked with everyone in our program from our staff, to the student leadership team, and even the whole band to give us all the tools for a more upbeat and enriched band experience

Brittany Dacy, TMEA Region 26 President & Associate Director of Bands, Westwood High School, Roundrock ISD, Austin, Texas

Dr. Arau's collaboration with Jeffersonville High School Bands has been transformative.  His unquenchable thirst for constant personal improvement has been infectious to our entire student, parent, and staff community. Dr. Arau is a master at synthesizing the latest in leadership research into transformative, positive change for our band program. His work is not a "one size fits all" program. Dr. Arau invests the time it takes to understand our program and our students.  This has led to a partnership that has designed a leadership program that addresses the specific needs of our band students. The amazing personal touch and enthusiasm Dr. Arau brings to the Jeffersonville High School Band Program cannot be overstated.  He invests the time it takes to create a true partnership. Not only have I seen our student leadership grow, but my own teaching as well. Dr. Arau has the extraordinary combination of pedagogical mastery and genuine generosity of spirit that creates life changing experiences for students and staff alike. Dr. Arau lives at the intersection of passionate music making, cognitive research, deep personal connection, and maximizing our human potential.  Effectively communicating this synergy is the "superpower" that will fuel our positive growth for years to come.

Adam Miller, Director of Bands, Jeffersonville High School, Jeffersonville, Indiana

Your robust positivity is just such a great life-refresher, and you have a great ability to engage even through a webinar medium! We were able to chat a bit at CSI last year and it was a privilege to sit in on two of your sessions today.

David, Conn-Selmer Institute Participant

“Even as I entered my 22nd year of teaching, I had doubts. I doubted my own leadership abilities and I doubted my passion. I could see this in my students also. Then after having Dr. Arau bring Upbeat Leadership to my school, everything changed! Hearing him speak and watching him work with students ignited the fire within me to bring the passion out that I had suppressed. My daily approach changed and the students began to inspire each other. By creating a mission statement we all could rally around, the positivity within each rehearsal and performance was infectious. The entire band began looking at the possibilities as opposed to the obstacles. As an educator, I no longer had to work... I got to go and create music with students who were just as passionate as I was. I have had the good fortune to witness Dr. Arau do this time and time again and I know those who hear his message will be just as inspired! “

Mark D. Stice, Director of Bands, Okemos High School, Okemos, Michigan

I cannot thank you enough for the information and positive energy you brought with you to CSI Connect this year.  This year has been particularly challenging for me, as I have just started in a new program.  Your presentations on Mindfulness and Leadership were both a breath of fresh air though, and I will be doing some reading and introspection over the summer in preparation for the Fall.

Deanna, Conn-Selmer Institute Participant

I am still glowing from watching your presentation, “Upbeat” on CSI!  Just an inspiring and much needed topic and presentation.  Thank you for sharing your kindness and positivity with all!

Phillip, Conn-Selmer Institute Participant

“As a music educator, I have the great responsibility of providing THE BEST for my students in the areas of content and influence.  When I reflect on those words…one name comes to mind—Dr. Matthew Arau.  I’ve been able to hear from Dr. Arau at various conferences and conventions in this last year, and a few of my students and I were able to participate in his Upbeat! Global Virtual Leadership Academy this last summer. WOW!  His positive attitude is infectious.  His content is inspiring, thought provoking, and immediately applicable.  I truly believe, especially in the world we live in today, that EVERY student and teacher should have an opportunity to experience Dr. Arau’s “Upbeat! Way!”  Those that have understand that the topics of mindfulness, leadership, gratitude, mindset…these aren’t just sit-and-get, one-time experiences.  These are hands-on, skill building, reflective, applicable, collaborative journeys.  They help with self-discovery, and they help students and directors gain knowledge and confidence.  I’m so thankful that my students and I have such a wonderful model, and I can’t wait for my students to experience even more that Dr. Arau has to offer in the future!”

Nathan Sletten, 7-12 Band Director, Lake Mills Community School District, Lake Mills, Iowa

I wanted to send a quick note to let you know how the work you introduced yesterday is impacting my mindset already. 
I woke up this morning intending to think about something I am grateful for and to use my ‘get’ statements to think about my upcoming day. These two simple practices are exactly what I was looking for to shape my thoughts as I start my day, and I can’t wait to realize the positive changes in my mindset over time from this shift. 
Thank you for providing us with a toolkit to improve both our leadership skills and our wellbeing!

Jessica Vaughn, Associate Band Director, Cherry Creek High School, Denver, Colorado.

What Students are Saying

I just wanted to say that your teaching style is amazing, you keep people very focused and it is very engaging. Everything felt like it went by so fast because I was actually having fun when I was learning! Thank you so much for the amazing conducting sessions!


I learned so many valuable things at this camp!


I had so much fun at this camp!


I’ve learned a lot more than I thought I was going to at this camp. Even if it wasn’t in person, it has been very beneficial.


Attending the Upbeat Global Leadership camp has helped me understand what a good student leader looks like and how everyone and anyone can be a leader of any capacity while working in a team setting. This camp will have a lasting effect on how I will move forward through a time of uncertainty, and how I will approach problems in the future as a student leader.


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