Beloved Dundee Middle School music teacher dies at 34; he instilled love of performing

Matt Bishop remembered by loved ones: ‘He lived and breathed that school’

Memorials at Dundee Middle School, seen on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Students honored music teacher Matt Bishop, following his death over the weekend.

The sidewalks surrounding Community Unit School District 300′s Dundee Middle School in West Dundee are covered in chalk drawings and messages all to commemorate a music school teacher who unexpectedly died Saturday.

One message written in chalk quotes Matt Bishop, who often said to his students, “I didn’t know we were making memories, I just thought we were having fun.” His father Dave Bishop said that quote perfectly described his son.

Matt Bishop, 34, died unexpectedly at his home in Elgin Saturday. He worked at the middle school as a music teacher for 12 years, said friend and colleague, John Blomquist, an 8th grade English language arts teacher. During Bishop’s time there, he was heavily involved in student activities, including the school’s band, choir, orchestra, musicals, plays and multiple clubs. “There was nothing he didn’t do,” Blomquist said. “He lived and breathed that school.”

Bishop’s love for music started when he was just 3 years old, his father said. He remembers his son playing the organ during Christmas while everyone else opened presents. “He took to music immediately,” Dave Bishop said. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

Matt Bishop taught himself to play multiple instruments, from the piano and guitar to the bass and trombone, his father said. His favorite musicians were Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and music from the film “The Blues Brothers,” Blomquist said.

Bishop, who graduated from Dundee Middle School in 2004, worked on the annual School-a-palooza event, where professional musicians play music with students as the lead performers. “We would get 200 to 300 people who would show up and with Matt, we had 1,000 people at the event now for the past couple years,” Blomquist said.

Matthew Bishop leading the Bishop Super Band at RocHaus in West Dundee for a Parent Association Fundraiser in January 2023.

He took the best student musicians from School-a-palooza and invite them perform with him in his Bishop Super Band, which would appear at local events like Heritage Fest. “He lived selflessly to come up with amazing opportunities for the students,” Blomquist said.

Bishop was “in love with elephants and what they symbolized,” Blomquist said. Every year, Bishop would give wooden elephants to students who made a lasting impact. “He was so much larger than life,” Blomquist said. “It’s hard to encapsulate everything that he did and how many people he touched.”

Bishop’s sister, Nicole Taylor, recently gave birth to a daughter named Lucy Marie. Bishop never got to meet his new niece, his mother, Christine Bishop, said. “He just adored her by the pictures that were sent,” she said.

Visitation is planned for 1 to 8 p.m. Friday at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Dundee, where Bishop was an active member. Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the church.

“He just adored the kids and loved music,” Dave Bishop said. “He used music as an expression of love. He brought kids into music that would have never gone into music.”