When the Texas Tech University football team takes the field Friday at AT&T Stadium against Baylor University, it will be the last game for many of the seniors.
And that includes senior drum major and Mansfield High School alum, Alex Williams. The 21-year-old music major has served as Texas Tech drum major for two years, and Friday, it’s a fond farewell to a role he respected and relished.
“It’s one of the most sad things to think about, and to be honest, I’m trying not to think about it. It’s weird that it’s not just my last chance to be a drum major, but any time I do or attend a band event now, I’m going to be on the other side,” Williams said. “It’s weird to think I’m not going to be a student anymore and that sense of camaraderie will be gone. I’m not going to be playing those songs anymore.”
His love for music started at Mary Orr Intermediate. At the middle school level, students were required to select band or choir as a fine arts credit. Williams went band, chose the tuba as his instrument, and the rest was history.
“I was just a regular band member. I didn’t do anything special, I was in band just to be in band. But in my freshman year, I made the All-Region band. In a matter of five months, I went from not being able to read a key signature to being ninth chair in the region for tuba players,” Williams said. “I thought that was pretty cool and I began to think I had some kind of niche in music. So I kept practicing, and along with the help of (Mansfield High School band director) Will Ludlow, I just kept getting better.”
Williams served as drum major for two years at Mansfield High School. He was also a member of the All-Region, All-Area and All-State bands. Those experiences allowed him to play at major music venues, including the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and Carnegie Hall in New York. After high school, it didn’t take long for him to decide where he wanted to go to college.
Everyone in his family is a proud Red Raider, from his grandparents to his uncles to his parents. And having seen the marching band perform multiple times over the years, he knew he wanted to be a part of the tradition.
“We went to Lubbock for a game once and we stopped off at a bookstore and picked out a postcard that had a picture of the band on it. We put it on a mirror in the front hallway of our home and he would walk by it and say ‘that’s gonna be me.’ I knew then,” his mother LezLee Williams said.
His experience in college didn’t start off the way he had hoped, said his mother. But once things settled down and he got the hang of it, it wasn’t a surprise that he was going to try out for the drum major position at Texas Tech.
“I felt profound pride when I found out (that he wanted to be drum major). I can’t remember a part of my life where we didn’t go to Texas Tech games, and the band is a big part of that experience,” she said. “The band just brings so much to the football game and for him to be leading an organization that huge was just amazing to us.”
After college, Williams wants to continue in music. He wants to travel abroad and teach children how to play. Of course, being proficient at the tuba, the flute, the piano, the violin and dabbling in the trombone, the French horn, the saxophone and clarinet will help.
“I’ve always had this knack where I pick things up that are my hobbies. I started with painting. At first, they were only OK, and then I just kept practicing and practicing until I became good,” Williams said. “I did the same thing with cooking, which is also one of my biggest hobbies.”
Williams recently wrote a cookbook that focuses on healthy, well-rounded meals.
Williams says his experiences at Texas Tech will help him through his life. He looks back fondly at the memories, but there will be one moment he will never forget.
“There have been a lot of experiences, but by far, my favorite experience was during my first pre-game as head drum major this year. We do this thing called The Goose Step, which is basically our strut on to the field. Me and my drum major partner practiced every day over the summer, including the middle of the day in extreme heat to get ready for the football games,” Williams said. “It was so cool. Right when we took off to do our run, the fans went crazy. I don’t remember much about the run itself, but I’ll remember the crowd on that day. It was like getting off a roller coaster. It was exciting.”