The School for Music Vocations

The SMV (School for Music Vocations), in Creston, Iowa, is based out of Southwestern Community College.  It is the only 2-year vocational music program in the United States, earning students an Associate's Degree in Professional Music.




Lucas Mattson

Lucas Mattson has taught at Southwestern Community College since 2001, becoming a vital part of the faculty. In 2009, he joined the full-time faculty at the school.  Before he began teaching in Creston, he received his Bachelors of Music in piano from the University of Northern Arizona.

As one of the full-time faculty at Southwestern, Lucas teaches classes in Vocal and Instrumental Arranging, Jazz Keyboard, Jazz Performance & Literature, and Baroque and 19th and 20th Century theory.  He has directed both instrumental and vocal groups at the college.  Lucas is active as a pianist, clinician and arranger, and tours each year with his vocal jazz group, Harmonic Convergence.  He also is the Assistant Director of the SMV Vocal Jazz Camps each summer.

Dr. Jeremy Fox

Dr. Jeremy Fox

After graduating from The School for Music Vocations in 1996, Jeremy earned a B.M. degree in Piano Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University.  He later received his Masters degree in Studio Jazz Writing from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He earned his D.M.A. in Jazz Composition (with an emphasis on jazz vocals) from the same university. From 2001-2010, Jeremy was one of the faculty at the School for Music Vocations, teaching theory, arranging, studio recording, and solo jazz literature. He directed various instrumental & choral ensembles and the vocal group, First Take.  Jeremy has received ten awards from Downbeat magazine, including ones for: Jazz Song, Jazz Arrangement, Studio Engineering, and for his vocal jazz group. Jeremy has several charts published with Sound Music Publications, UNC Jazz Press, and Foxtrot Publishing. He has written for such artists as: John Secada, Theo Bleckmann, m-pact, Terence Blanchard, and Metropolitan Opera singers Eric Owens and Denyce Graves. Twice in 2013, he conducted and was musical director for a concert of "Bossa Nova Sinfónico" with the Costa Rican National Orchestra and Brazilian singer Rose Max. He has also acted as the guest conductor for the famed Henry Mancini Institute Jazz Orchestra, based in Miami.

Jeremy was nominated for a Grammy award in 2015 for an arrangement from his album "With Love" (Jazzbill Records), which was released in 2014.  The album features big band and orchestral arrangements for a phenomenal line-up of singers, including Anders Edenroth (from The Real Group), Kevin Mahogany, Kate Reid, Kate McGarry, Derek Fawcett, Rose Max, Wendy Pedersen, Sunny Wilkinson, and Lauren Kinhan and Peter Eldridge (from the New York Voices). It is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital stores.  A physical copy of the CD can be ordered at

Jeremy leads the SMV Vocal Jazz Camps with locations across North America, and co-leads The Jazz Harmony Retreat, a camp for music educators.


Ryan Howe


After receiving his B.A. in Vocal Performance from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Ryan studied at the School for Music Vocations for a year before joining the faculty in 2009. There, Ryan directed and toured with the Concert Choir, his vocal jazz ensemble, and several instrumental ensembles. Ryan also taught a wide variety of classes, ran the recording studio, and directed Fox Fest for four years, hosting such artists as the New York voices, Groove for Thought, The Four Freshmen, and Nancy King.

Ryan has worked extensively as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the midwest, and for the past seven summers, has served on the staff for the SMV Summer Vocal Jazz Workshop, teaching improvisation, and serving as head sound technician.  Ryan spent the last two years serving as a Teaching Fellow for the University of North Texas Vocal Jazz department while pursuing his Masters in Jazz Studies. He returns to the School for Music Vocations, teaching Jazz Voice, Solo Jazz Literature, Recording Studio Production, Fundamentals Skills.  Ryan is in charge of the SMV's state-of-the-art recording studio, and directs the vocal jazz ensemble Audio Radiance. 

Kathryn Fox


Kathryn Severing Fox received a Bachelor of Music Performance degree in viola performance from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music, where she was a student of Ms. Pamela McConnell. She remained at the University of Miami for her Masters of Music degree in viola performance, graduating May, 2015. She was a teaching assistant and a Henry Mancini Institute Fellow. During her studies, she played in numerous ensembles, including The University of Miami Symphony Orchestra, The University of Miami Opera Orchestra and The Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. She has had many chamber music experiences, such as playing in The Frost School of Music inaugural jazz string quartet, the first of its kind at The Frost School, and the Henry Mancini Institute String Quartet. The HMI String Quartet recorded a cd the first part of 2014. She has also had the distinct privilege of teaching underprivileged students in the School District of Miami, bringing private string lessons to children in the inner city. Private study teachers include Martha Morehart, Eugene Purdue, John Dexter, Pamela McConnell, Elizabeth Seka, and Sally Chisholm. She has had the distinct privilege of studying with Charles Pickler, William Preucil, Susan Bates, Robert Vernon, and Lynne Ramsey in master classes. She has played under the baton of Thomas Sleeper, James Smith, Andrew Sewell, Joshua Major, Richard Severing, Scott Flavin, Robert Tomaro, David Becker, Jean Montés and many others.

Kathryn has played for numerous civic organizations in South Central and South Eastern Wisconsin, including a performance of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante. In 2013, Kathryn had the opportunity to record with George Benson on his album, “A Tribute to Nat King Cole.” She also had the privilege of performing in PBS specials with Gloria Estefan, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, and more. Some of Kathryn’s other exciting performance opportunities were playing in backup orchestras for The Beach Boys, Take 6, Kenny Loggins, The Osmond Brothers, Lou Gramm, Gloria Gaynor, Pharrell Williams, Michael Feinstein, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terence Blanchard, Dave Grusin, Monica Mancini, Marc O’Connor, Denyce Graves, Shelly Berg, and Kate Reid.


Kathryn recently finished a two-year tour stint as the sole violist in the crossover string octet Barrage 8 and was Courtesy Faculty at the Bower School of Music at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is now playing festivals and performances with the Suwannee Swing Saloon, a western swing band based out of Fort Meyers, Florida.  Adjunct Faculty at the School for Music Vocations at Southwestern Community College, where she teaches strings, aural skills, music fundamentals, piano, and voice. She can be found on YouTube, or through her website, and her SoundCloud is

DR. LAUREN BROWN – Classical voice

Lauren received a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Simpson College in 2008. Following her Bachelors degree, she attended Louisiana State University and gained a Masters of Music degree and later a D.M.A, both in vocal performance. During her time as a student, Lauren performed on stage in many leading operatic roles; Lady Billows in Albert Herring, Magda Sorel in The Consul, Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, La Femme in La Voix Humaine, and Mrs. Grose in Turn of the Screw.

While in her graduate and doctoral studies, Lauren maintained her own private studio, moving back to Iowa in 2013 to teach as a sabbatical replacement at her Alma Mater, Simpson College. Following the completion of the sabbatical replacement, she began teaching privately in Iowa. Over the past 5 years in Iowa, Lauren has continued to expand her private studio as well as teaching adjunct classical voice at the School for Music Vocations at Southwestern Community College. 




Dustin Baird –

Dustin Baird

Dustin Baird is a native of Creston Iowa.  He has been playing music professionally and teaching for nearly a decade.  Dustin developed a love for music at an early age.  Dustin’s father was a musician and music surrounded him always.  Starting as a percussionist, Dustin began live gigging and recording original rock material with friends by the age of 14.  Over time, Dustin gravitated toward guitar and bass guitar, which landed him his first professional touring gig at the age of 26, with the Josh Davis Band.  After experiencing “the road” for a few years, Dustin decided to settle down and start a family with his wife, Samantha, and sons Ryder and Reid. 

Dustin started teaching with Southwestern School for Music Vocations alumni, James Biehn, in April of 2009 when James founded the “Central Iowa Music Lab” in Des Moines, Iowa.  In October of 2011 Dustin opened his own studio, Sumner Lesson Studios, in Creston, Iowa.  Dustin teaches a full schedule of lessons at both studios and continues to play solo acoustic shows on a weekly basis. 

In June of 2015 Dustin attended the Southwestern Community College SMV “Jazz Harmony Retreat,” which led him to enroll at SWCC for a year of jazz keyboard and two years of jazz bass training as a non-traditional student.  Dustin is a graduate of Simpson College with a Bachelors of Arts in Marketing and is also a graduate of Southwestern Community College with an AA degree in general education with an emphasis on music.