UTPB Band aims for growth

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Currently head of the University of Texas Permian Basin Marching Band, Tim Feerst has 74 members.

The group, called Spirit of the Permian Basin, was training on Wednesday at the training ground near the D. Kirk Edwards Family Human Performance Center.

“(The) group is large; they produce excellent sound. They have been very well received at the football games and events we have played so far this year, ”said Feerst.

The group typically performs at home soccer games and are sometimes asked to perform at events on and off campus.

UTPB Falcon Marching Band David Bittner plays the trumpet as he rehearses a marching routine during marching band practice Wednesday morning at the UTPB training ground. (Jacob Ford | American Odessa)

“We will also be offering two performance exhibitions this fall. The first takes place at a UIL walking competition on October 16, and then again at a UIL region walking competition on October 23, ”said Feerst.

These will both be at Ratliff Stadium.

Last year was Feerst’s first year with the UTPB musical program. He was director of percussion studies, and this year he is director of percussion studies and interim director of orchestras.

Taking over the group has been great because the student leadership is so strong, he said.

“They are very proactive. They are extremely professional. I mean, if you’re watching right now, they’re warming up and I’m not even there. We have had great success so far this year and there have been no issues. There were challenges, but there were no issues and I’m extremely proud of each of them, ”added Feerst.

Originally from Vienna, Virginia, he received a BA in Music Education from George Mason University and an MA in Percussion from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in Percussion with a related field in Wind Conducting. from the University of North Texas. .

“The most influential teachers I have had have been conductors. And you still see a lot of percussion in the band as opposed to the string orchestra, even though there was a lot of percussion in the orchestra as well. So when they asked me to step in as interim group director this year, I didn’t really feel like it was something that was completely out of my hands, ”he said. -he declares.

David Erfanian of the UTPB Falcon Marching Band plays the trumpet during the Marching Band practice on Wednesday morning at the UTPB training ground. (Jacob Ford | American Odessa)

Aside from making a living, Feerst has said he enjoys the variety of percussion.

“It covers so many musical styles, for example the marching band. It also covers orchestra, contemporary music, jazz, pop, rock; name it, ”he added.

He also likes to know that he can fit into many musical styles.

“… Someday I might play the drums; another day I could play the xylophone and another day I could play the timpani. It’s this variety that I absolutely love playing percussion, ”Feerst said.

Students audition individually for the group so the directors can see where they stand musically.

But most of them were in a group in high school. The group and football have always been linked in the Lone Star State.

“I always knew that Texas high school groups were a force to be reckoned with. And that is due in large part to the fact that football is an integral part of high school culture here in Texas. I am of the opinion that football and the squad have a kind of symbiotic relationship and that they help each other grow. I always wanted to come to Texas because of that, because of the strength of music education in that state. I have lived here for several years in various fields and love it, ”said Feerst.

He added that the level of dedication and willingness to work hard of the students is remarkable and among the best he has ever seen.

Jackie Santos of the UTPB Falcon Marching Band spins as she twirls two sticks during Marching Band practice Wednesday morning at the UTPB training ground. (Jacob Ford | American Odessa)

“You can hear right now how student leadership is working with our chapters right now. Right now we are working on the fundamentals of walking and the leadership is leading these sections… as we call them; these small mini repetitions distributed by instrument. … We are really proud at UTPB to enhance this leadership and improve the quality of music education, ”said Feerst.

Brandon Lippert is in this third year with the Spirit of the Permian Basin. He’s a drum major, trombone, and trombone major, “So I play all day.”

Lippert, who is from Smithville about 45 minutes from Austin, started in the squad in sixth grade.

“It’s just a great family atmosphere with each other. … It’s not just about coming and playing with each other and coming home, but we are trying to do things outside the group and make the most of our time while we are here, ”said Lippert. .

He said the group has grown and improved.

“… COVID has put the brakes on things, but even compared to my first year here, the group has just improved exponentially every year … as it grows and new people arrive … they are also joining the same type of process, ”Lippert added.

After graduation, Lippert plans to start teaching music.

“… Everyone’s been through so much and I’m really excited and happy that we can come together again and really play the way this band is meant to be. I’m really excited to be a part of it this year, ”said Lippert.

Tabitha Blain, a major in music education (K-12), said the band has always been a big part of her life. She plays the trumpet and occasionally other instruments in harmony such as the French horn. Blain, who attended Crane High School, also performs with the Mariachi Band and sings in the Concert Choir and Women’s Choir.

Like Lippert, Blain said the family and community atmosphere is something she enjoys. She said they help each other in struggles and work together to overcome them.

Samuel Melton of the UTPB Falcon Marching Band plays the trumpet during marching band practice on Wednesday morning at the UTPB practice range. (Jacob Ford | American Odessa)

Blain arrived for the very first marching band at the UTPB.

“… It was a great opportunity to see such a small program and then as it evolves it grows tremendously,” said Blain.

People who see the group play help recruit students.

“It shows people that the squad can still be exciting, even in college. It’s not always about playing super hard, it’s about having fun and learning things to be better as a player.” , Blain said.

Emily-Ann Brito is in her first year as a twirl coach. Brito started competing at the age of 3.

“It’s so much fun and it combined so many different elements like there’s a little bit of dancing, there’s a little bit of agility and like having to be coordinated, which I sometimes am not, but I think it is. “was just a combination of everything. And all the competitions, being able to travel too,” Brito said.

She was one of the group’s first twirlers and was part of the group for all four years of college.

“… I had a great experience when I was here as a student and so when I was offered this opportunity I knew I couldn’t turn it down and I was so excited to do it “Brito said.

She added that the twirling talent is very good at UTPB. She only has two daughters.

“I hope to develop the program. … Sometimes I’ll tell them a trick I can’t do and they’ll be able to do it… ”said Brito.

Brito graduated in Mechanical Engineering from UTPB.

She said it was rewarding to see the group grow. She has seen the number of students who want to go to college increase with all the new facilities and offerings she has.


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