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Blackman High Choral Department » Mr. Matthew L. Burns, Director

Mr. Matthew L. Burns, Director



Mr. Burns began his professional career in 1999 as an elementary music teacher at the new Centennial Elementary in Dickson, TN. Over the next twelve years, he developed a vibrant and successful curriculum that made sure all students were given a very broad understanding and appreciation for the art of music. As a compliment to his K-5 general music classes, Mr. Burns created an active after-school choral program that over the years was lauded by colleagues as some of the finest elementary ensembles in the state. One, a twelve-member show choir, toured extensively throughout middle Tennessee each year in the late spring to great acclaim. In addition to his teaching duties, Mr. Burns was the county's elementary music educators’ professional development coordinator, served on several school committees, oversaw the annual yearbook creation, and engaged the educational outreach programs at the Nashville Symphony, Nashville Opera, and the Nashville Ballet, using local grant funds, to bring their organizations annually to perform at the school. In his last year at Centennial Elementary, Mr. Burns, in collaboration with the art program, formed a drama club and secured the funds to mount a full production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair.


January 2012, Mr. Burns left the classroom and was appointed the first full-time Program Coordinator/Department Supervisor for Austin Peay State University’s Community School of the Arts (CSA). In this role, he was charged with rebuilding and rebranding the community outreach program to include all areas of the arts at Austin Peay State University (APSU). For four years, he helped to design the public branding of the CSA, added over forty staff members, expanded the catalog of community classes from two to twenty, developed a summer camp program for school-aged children, increased its social media presence by 500%, and cultivated deep relationships with Clarksville area leaders and the local arts community.


Mr. Burns is also an accomplished educator at the collegiate level having taught for four years online and on-campus as an associate faculty member for the University of Phoenix. His online course, American Media and Culture, taught students about the impact of various medias over the last 100 years. On campus, he taught Public Speaking as part of the university’s first year student program. After leaving the University of Phoenix in the spring of 2015, Mr. Burns taught Music Appreciation at the Ft. Campbell Army Base campus as an adjunct faculty member in Austin Peay State University’s Music Department. He is also skilled in web design, graphic design, and community leadership.


Most recently, Mr. Burns spent 2016 living in Boston, MA where he spent time working as an executive assistant to the Chief of Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and to the General/Artistic Director of the Boston Lyric Opera.


Mr. Burns holds a bachelor of music in music education degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a master of music in music education degree from Austin Peay State University. While studying at APSU, he was the graduate assistant and a choral conducting student of Dr. George Mabry, former conductor of the Nashville Symphony Chorus and now Professor Emeritus of Choral Activities. Mr. Burns’ music organization memberships include: NAfME, TMEA, MTVA, ACDA, and an alumnus of Phi Mu Alpha, a professional men’s music fraternity. He also holds Level One certification in the Orff-Schulwerk method of music education.


Mr. Burns is a Tennessee native currently residing in Nashville, TN with his fiancé and their two dogs. He enjoys motorcycle riding, entertaining friends, and of course, music.

"I could never imagine life without singing."
- Kathleen Battle