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An Interview with VCS Alum Jonathan Mann

Jonathan Mann, VCS grad of 2000 and YouTube singing sensation, has created a video about our school and the Annual Fund! Jonathan is the creator of the Song of the Day Mann project on YouTube, where he has been writing, producing, and uploading a song a day for over 1,000 days. Jonathan has been interviewed by Rachel Maddow and performed live on her show, and Steve Jobs used his iPhone 4 Antenna Song and video to open Apple’s “Antenna-gate” press conference. He has also been commissioned to write songs and make videos for Steve Wozniak (the co-founder of Apple), Richard Saul Wurman (the founder of TED), and most recently, Vermont Commons School! I recently had the opportunity to interview Jonathan.

What do you remember most about your time at VCS?
I think the thing I remember, and the thing I miss, the most, is the friendships I forged both with students and teachers. Those relationships and what they meant to me stand out the clearest in my mind.

I understand that you are responsible for starting the tradition of singing at morning meetings, and that you sang many of your exams, including your final for Peter Goff. Did you know back then that you wanted a career in music?
I did! I actually continued my habit of singing final exams well into college and grad school, and it’s that very skill, (taking complex ideas and boiling them down into their essence in a song) that I’ve turned into my living.

You have created thousands of songs for Song of the Day, and created songs for all sorts of famous people, including Steve Wozniak. What have been some of your favorites?
Picking some favorite songs out of the 1000s that I’ve written is really difficult! It changes constantly as I write new ones and (funny as it may sound) rediscover old ones.
I can say that writing songs for people, famous or otherwise, and seeing/hearing about their reactions is always a treat. For instance, Steve Wozniak’s wife, who commissioned the song I wrote for him, told me that he cried when he heard it and said it was the best birthday present he’d ever gotten. Those kinds of reactions are the things I like the best.

What advice would you give VCS students who are interested in a career in music or the arts?
My main advice is to just keep making stuff. Find a way to silence your inner critic. Don’t worry about being good, just focus on making as much as possible.

To see the video Jonathan created for our Annual Fund go to our Giving page. We hope he will inspire you to give to the Annual Fund if you haven’t already done so! To learn more about Jonathan and his work, go to jonathanmann.net or check out Song of the Day Mann on YouTube.

– posted by Sarah Judd

Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.

At Vermont Commons School, our goal is to engage students with their world. We achieve this through programs and a curriculum grounded in local and global involvement.