A lifetime experience with music
By Robin Scott
Members of the Dalhart Golden Wolves band had a fantastic fall season. Under the direction of Rick Ball and Allan Gregory. The fall season included home games with marching band performances, pep band and competitions. The remainder of the semester will include a Christmas concert and getting ready for the Five States Band and district competition.
During the 2009 marching band season, the Field Director was Jarrett Hand, a senior saxophonist. According to Ball, “He’s done a remarkable job this year.” Also included in the marching band were five eighth grade students from Dalhart Junior High School. Ball noted, “Every year I have eighth grade students in the varsity band that have not only the skill, but the maturity to make it in a varsity environment.” Two other notable members of the band are the only two students who compete in two activities simultaneously, Jennifer Quint who plays clarinet and Allison DeJong who plays drums. Both girls marched in each half time performance wearing their cheerleading uniforms.
The finale to the marching band season was a trip to Lubbock and Texas Tech Stadium for the playoff game between Dalhart and Brownwood. The band members had quite a time getting to the game. The charter bus that should have taken them to Lubbock broke down. When they finally arrived by school bus, they were just in time to get into position before the game began. Ball commented, “Friday night gave me yet another reason to love my kids. They traveled to Lubbock for the game, and didn’t arrive back home to Dalhart until 3:00 a.m. They had to be back on the bus at 6:30 a.m. to travel to Guymon to audition for the Five States Band.” He further noted, “I’m a fortunate man. I’m fortunate to work with such an outstanding group of kids. They show up, they work hard, they work until I say stop, they never grumble, they never complain, they never whine, and they have never given me a performance that was a disgrace or a joke. They give a performance that allows other people to look at us with respect, we feel successful, and we like who we are.”
Students immediately began working on audition material for the All Region Band and are beginning to get solos and ensembles out for the district contest. Ball stated, “We will go down early next semester to WT A&M for that.” The band has begun rehearsing for the Christmas concert, which will be December 13th at 2:00 p.m. at the High School Auditorium. The All Region Band will perform in Amarillo at the Globe Theater on January 16, 2010 and at the district competition on February 5th and 6th.
On December 12th, the students that made the Five States Honor Band will be in Guymon, OK. Ball added, “They have received their music.” He was proud to announce those students who include eighth graders, Lea Baumert on flute, Tyler Dixon on saxophone and Ben Howell on trumpet. Other students who will travel to Guymon include Destiny Boone and Sunrae Smith on flute; Jennifer Bundy, Leah Dixon, Maisie Kenny and Jennifer Quint on clarinet; Jarrett Hand, Johnathan Baumert, Luis Bencomo, Mitchell McMurry and Kelsey Miller on trumpet; Morgan Biaggi, Sarah Nelson, Joslynn Turley and Skyler Wilt on trombone; Courtney Dovel on euphonium and Chris Diller on snare drum.
Ball noted that all of the members of the varsity band make him proud. The other members this year include Sarah Fahnert, Alicia Hernandez and Lindsey Meeves on flute; Haleigh Coston, Riley Hamilton, DeAndra Rodriguez and Amber Smith on clarinet; Kip Frates, Antonio Otavianni and Christina Altermott on saxophone; M.J. DeMots and Austin Smith on trumpet; Alex DeJong on trombone; Charles Stillwell on euphonium; Santo Rodriguez on tuba; Stangal Keaton on base drum; Brice Boortz and Moses Chaisouang on cymbals; Bethany Thomas on quint; and Allison DeJong on snare drum.
A great deal of the student’s success is attributed to Ball, who graduated from East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. Ball describes himself as always wanting to be a performer, and he spent his first eight or nine years as a working musician out on the road. He led a band that focused on the Top 40 music of the last 40 years. His background also includes warming up for Willie Nelson once and Doug Kershaw once, and he did a stretch with Red Steagall. He stated, “I’ve always wanted to perform. I had a few symphony jobs, society jobs, country jobs and my band could cross over from county to society and light country.” When asked what a society job was, he grinned, “Places where ‘society’ goes.”
Ball’s transition to teaching came when his oldest daughter began first grade. He has taught in many places, and has taken with him what he calls, “A great deal of long lasting memories.” He also stated, “What I’ve enjoyed most in education, after 30 years, is that every year I have a student from back there somewhere that goes to the trouble to find me. I’ve had very long lasting, solid and fulfilling relationships with my children over the years.” This year mark’s Ball’s 10th with DISD. Ball stated that he doesn’t do anything alone, and relies on the many talents of Gregory, who is in his first year with DISD. Ball noted, “He’s a very knowledgeable and capable man. His area of expertise is quite large. He’s a joy to have around.”
The band members in Dalhart are very fortunate, as their director looks upon them as if they were his own. He stated, “My goals in education have never been anything other than to try to motivate kids to do the best job they can today with what God gave them. My hopes are that my students have learned that the most important things in life are to be honest, work hard and deliver what you say you will. I would hope I’ve given them enough literacy training that they can have a lifetime experience with music, without needing a band director to tell them how it goes.”