The Indian Springs Middle School band program and its director David Puckett are recipients of a national award for excellence.
The John Philip Sousa Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking to build international understanding through band music, awards the Sudler Cup each year to middle school band programs and directors that demonstrate high standards of excellence over the course of several years.
“I attribute our success to having the same three band directors here for the last three years,” Puckett said. “It’s not just one band that is successful but the whole program’s success.”
To be eligible, a director has to have been at the same school for seven years and must submit recordings, programs and accomplishments from the last few years. Five groups were nominated for the honor. While some years several band programs are chosen, this year Indian Springs was the lone recipient.
Indian Springs Wind Ensemble has placed six times in the National Wind Band Honors Project sponsored by the Foundation for Music Education and all the ISMS bands have received superior ratings at contests, Puckett said.
Puckett has been at Indian Springs and South Keller Intermediate since the schools opened in 2001. His first few years out of college he taught high school but after moving to Dallas-Fort Worth to pursue a master’s degree in education he switched to the middle grades.
“I really fell in love with it,” he said. “To be able to put instruments in their hands for the first time and be with them for three years to help them develop as musicians and see the joy in their faces when they get it, it’s just great.”
Students in the Indian Springs band program said that Puckett’s experience, humor and compassion, along with the spirit of competition have helped them excel.
Eighth-grader Garrett Mason said that friendly competition between fellow band members and in the group as a whole help them to keep improving.
Classmate Kaitlyn Slean agreed. “We wouldn’t be very good it we didn’t have high expectations.”
The award is all the more special for Puckett because his daughter, Rachel Puckett, a seventh-grader, is in the Indian Springs Wind Ensemble this year.
Puckett and Indian Springs were nominated by Cindy Lansford, herself a recipient of the Sudler Cup in 2004 when she was band director at North Ridge Middle School in North Richland Hills.
Lansford, a Keller resident, is retired from teaching but helps out at Indian Springs.
“It’s a great team of teachers with high expectations for students. It’s got great kids and supportive parents,” Lansford said. “It’s a winning combination.”
Puckett and the Indian Springs band program will receive the Sudler Cup at the spring concert where they will play a Sousa march