With a strong martial background running through his family history, English teacher Brady Matthews was drawn to two things at an early age: the military and bagpipes.
Cadets and their families can understand the attraction to the former, but the latter is an acquired taste to many, even music lovers. However, bagpipes are a major defining interest for Matthews, who teaches sophomore, junior, and senior English along with a Personal Professional Skills course.
“During an open house parade one weekend in 2011, I saw the VMI Pipe and Drum Corps play for the first time and I think it was that sound that really sealed my fate,” Matthews said. “I heard the echo of the bagpipes across the parade ground, saw the sharp uniforms, and thought: ‘I want to be one of those guys.’”
Though an unusual choice for musical instrument to play, the bagpipes have helped Matthews travel the country. Playing in the VMI Pipe Band allowed the former cadet to perform in Pasadena California at the Rose Bowl; New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. for two different Mardi Gras ceremonies; and even in Washington D.C. to perform before two presidents during their inauguration ceremonies: Pres. Obama (2013) and Pres. Trump in (2017).
“I’m of Scottish, Irish and English stock, so bagpipes and militarism run in my blood,” Matthews said. “I see it as a channel through which I feel connected to my ancestors.”
A native of the Shenandoah Valley who, since the age of 9, grew up on a horse farm outside of Edinburg, Virginia, Matthews is as passionate about history as he is the English language and the bagpipes. Both sides of his family share a strong martial pedigree with relatives who fought in both World Wars in American and British services, not to mention centuries’ worth of family members buried in battlefields across Europe.
He’s not the only one of his generation who hears the military calling from ages past: his younger brother is currently attending VMI and plans to serve in law enforcement after graduation and three of his four older brothers are police officers with one being a retired Army Ranger and combat veteran who left the service as a Captain is now a Maryland State Trooper.
“Thus far I think I my favorite thing about working at MMA is how engaged and sharp the cadets can be,” said Matthews, who taught at the Edinburg Charterhouse School before joining Massanutten Military Academy. “They’re a diverse bunch and there is a tremendous amount of potential in each cadet that I have the privilege of teaching. I only hope I can help them towards their goals.”