Permian High School bands director Jeff Whitaker knew he had a great band of musicians from day one of practice. It has just over 300 pupils this year, but expects this to increase after the start of the school year.
“We started on July 25 and had a large group of kids showing up that day. You can tell from day one what kind of team you’re going to have that year (or) at least get an idea of what it’s going to be like. It was very positive from day one,” Whitaker said Tuesday.
“Our officers have done a tremendous job. We have around 45 members of our leadership team and they are students who simply choose to do more – beyond expectations. They have different tasks and missions that they do. They arrive before the rest of the group. They make sure everything is ready to go. They have meetings and organize things, mainly to make life easier for all of us…”, he added.
Whitaker said the freshman class is very strong, thanks to the college group directors who have done a great job.
“…Our goal is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior, we’re all in college for this season. We all need to perform at a high level, so our number one goal is to take our new members and bring them up to the upper classes as soon as possible,” Whitaker said.
Kinslea Blau, a 17-year-old senior, plays mellophone and French horn and is band captain this year.
She said the summer band will continue until Saturday and then they will start morning rehearsals.
Blau has been with the group since sixth grade.
“I feel honored to have the responsibility to help be part of the leadership of this group,” Blau said.
She added that there were a good number of freshmen this year. “But they’re all really good and ready to learn,” Blau said.
She added that she is anticipating the start of the walking season.
“I’m really excited. It’s my favorite time of year and this year we have a great show to learn from,” Blau said.
Gilbert Flores, 17, is senior trombonist this year. He was in a band in middle school and high school. He is the equipment captain and platoon leader.
“We get all these things set up before rehearsal even starts. We are usually the first in the field…” said Flores.
“…We make sure everything goes perfectly on the pitch,” he added.
Flores said he likes that his role helps everything flow much more smoothly and allows the directors to not worry about set-ups.
He said this year’s band was going to be awesome.
“They pick up so quickly. It’s going to be an amazing year,” added Flores.
It’s his last year, he’s a bit sad but he will leave the band and his section knowing what their expectations are for the years to come and I hope they will continue.
The theme of the show this year is Birds, Bees, Flowers, Trees, so it’s a nature-themed experience.
Whitaker said they started talking about what they were going to do even before they finished last year’s show.
Their design team is led by BJ Brooks, Marching Band Director and Professor at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.
“He has a team that he works with on the design side during what we would call the off-season fanfare. They put in an awful lot of hours and hard work,” Whitaker said.
As ideas are fleshed out, they have ongoing conversations.
“We see what opportunities can be created through design, most of the time they do, and they get feedback from us… It’s kind of magical how it all happens. It’s hard to explain because “There are things they do that I’m not aware of. And from my perspective, they give us a great product. My role really starts when we meet all the kids and start teaching,” said Whitaker.
He added that the group collaborates with the dance department for the Color Guard program.
“It takes a lot of the stress off of us as music teachers when we have talented, educated people teaching the dance curriculum in addition to our band managers,” Whitaker said.
It added new staff members this year with Tyler Serrato and Daniel Ward. Trey Burns is back.
John Carroll, who was associate director of groups at PHS, is now assistant group director at Monahans High School, and Lyndsay Eiben is now assistant group director at the University of Texas Permian Basin.