Editor's note: This is a two-part series highlighting first-year band directors at Brock and Peaster. This week's focus is on Brock director Lee Limoges.
Lee Limoges understands well falling in love with music at an early age. He wasn't even in high school when he learned he wanted band to be a part of the rest of his life.
"When I was in eighth grade my parents, Liz and Russell Limoges, bought me a Super Action 80 Series II Selmer Paris Alto Saxophone," he recalled. "Because they bought that saxophone, I found my passion, earned a scholarship, went to college, etc... I knew in eighth grade that I would be a band director."
He was attending Mineral Wells at the time and would go on to great success. Under the direction of John Young, he served as drum major, studied saxophone privately with Roy Allen Jr. (a tenured Dallas Wind Symphony saxophonist), and placed first chair in the All-State Band (first in state) in 2004 and 2005. He went to the University of Texas on scholarship as a saxophone player and majored and received his bachelors degree in music education.
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His travels also took him as far west as Lubbock, where worked with renowned high school director Tammy Fedynich. He was director at Monterrey for five years, preceded by one year at Lubbock High.
But he said he saw potential in the young Brock program that he couldn't pass up. It is also nice to be closer to home.
"After meeting the Brock faculty/administrators and seeing how much potential the Brock Band kids had, I felt like I couldn't say no," he said. "Brock is a wonderful school with wonderful kids, parents, administrators, teachers, and community. I have never felt so welcomed.
"I have to give my biggest shout-out to David Kennedy (Brock assistant band director). I enjoy working with Mr. Kennedy. He is a solid teacher and keeps me on track."
Kennedy served as interim director before Limoges' arrival. Under his guidance, the Brock band made some strides that he and Limoges are taking to even higher levels.
"Mr. Limoges has done an outstanding job in his first year at Brock with our band program. He brings a seemingly unlimited amount of energy and passion every day, and it just filters out through everybody around him," Brock Superintendent Scott Drillette said. "Even though he has so much enthusiasm for his job and the kids, I think the thing I like most about Mr. Limoges is his ability to bring incredibly high expectations for the program while still making it fun for all the band members.
"We are also extremely fortunate to have Mr. Kennedy as our assistant director. He brings a level of professionalism and enthusiasm as well that really complements the strengths of Mr. Limoges."
This past marching season, for the first time in the program's history, the Brock Band earned the highest score that a band can get, a 1 from all three University Interscholastic Judges (highest possible score is 1, lowest possible is 5) at the Region 30-3A Marching Competition. This qualified them for the UIL Area D Marching Contest - also for the first time, where they were ninth overall in the finals, five spots shy of state.
"These are not my goals, these are the goals of the Brock Band. We would like to make sweepstakes for the first time in school history (earning a 1 both in UIL marching band contest, and UIL concert band contest)," Limoges said. "We want to advance to state in the near future. The potential is definitely there."
Drillette said Brock ISD is fortunate to have directors like those two leading the band program.
"We are excited about what the students have accomplished to date, and are really looking forward to this spring and beyond," he said. "I expect great things from our band program as it continues to grow and develop."
But aside from school success, Limoges is big on promoting lifetime success through band - and it starts in the classroom, he said.
"First of all, studies show that kids who are in band tend to score higher on the ACT than students who are not (https://www.tmea.org/programs/all-state/average-sat). It all has to do with how the brain works, and how music can re-wire your brain," he said. "In addition, band requires students to use/develop their problem solving skills, ability to work with others, punctuality.
"Band also requires students to maintain their (expensive) instrument, keep up with several pieces of music and equipment, and manage their time to balance band, sports,classes,homework/work, etc. Band also develops communication skills, and confidence through working with others."
Limoges said the most important lesson to be learned from band is that when we work hard together, there is always a payoff, and often it is far greater than expectations.
"Over the years I have seen several students who hardly said a single word their freshman year develop into some of the most vocal and outgoing students in the entire band by their senior year," he said.
Limoges said as long as football is big in Texas, bands will be also. And with Brock now being among the best football programs in the state, the band should be as well, he believes.
"Many people don't know this, but the band scene throughout the state of Texas is very high level compared to most other states. The reason for this is because Texas high school football is so big here," he said. "As a result, band in Texas became a major focus throughout the state as well leading to what we have today.
"Think about it. What would a high school football game be like without the bands in the stands, or on the field during halftime? Travel across the state in any direction and you will here some amazing bands."
Most of all, he said, being involved in band is something that, like him, can be savored for life.
"What is wonderful about band is that although it develops many skills critical to being a successful citizen, it is also an extremely fun activity to be a part of," Limoges said. "The kids who love band today love it for the same reasons that I did when I was a kid."