Proper Nang for Austin High’s Music Program
Even Mumford & Sons loves the AHS band/orchestra
By William Harries Graham, 3:30PM, Tue. May. 21, 2013
On Saturday night, the Proper Nang Night at Maria’s Taco Xpress hosts a fundraiser for Austin High School that includes the Belle Sounds, Mike McCoy’s Tontine, Pangia, the Bare Feat, and my band the Seaside Swifts. Why are we raising the money? School budgets are the issue.
AHS’s orchestra is so good even Mumford & Sons has played with them. My drummer/trumpet player counts himself part of the AHS band, and our friends in Bare Feat are in the AHS orchestra.
Brian Frock has taught at AHS since 1988, becoming band director in 1995. Frock grew up playing saxophone in his school’s jazz band. He’s one of those teachers that students never forget.
“Working with young musicians is a treat,” he says. “I think it keeps me young at heart. It’s always amazing to see how dedicated they’re willing to be, despite the many distractions and pressures they’re under.
“I love it when students make the decision to play past high school. After seven years of public school music, many students think that’s the end of it. Students can opt to participate in college bands/orchestras, and there are an increasing number of adult community bands as well.
“The longer they remain involved and use their gifts and talents, the more they’ll continue to support music in our schools.”
Frock seems pleased with AISD’s overall support of music programs despite the fact that last week’s bonds elections left $400 million designated for arts and athletics programs somewhere on the cutting room floor.
“Running a band program is extremely expensive,” explains Frock. “AISD has improved some areas for us in the past 10 years by providing a better budget for supplies and instrument repairs. It just makes good business sense to put funds into instrument repair. Buying instruments for the district is very expensive, especially when you consider the number of campuses we serve. Devoting money to the upkeep of our instrument inventory increases the value and allows the horns to last longer, thus creating more opportunities for future students.
“But there are still many areas that simply are not funded, so we rely heavily on member contribution and fundraising.”
Frock’s greatest teaching moment so far?
“A couple of years ago, the Austin High Band participated in the 25th New Years Day Parade in London. That trip was the most amazing experience for me and our students. And then, less then two months after returning from London, we had the opportunity to be featured with Mumford & Sons during their stop on the Railroad Revival Tour.
“Mumford & Sons spent two hours in our band hall working with our students. Then they invited us to perform live with them that same evening. The event was featured prominently in the DVD The Big Easy Express.
“During the release of the DVD, Mumford & Sons returned to Austin and again invited the Austin High Band to perform live with them. They were so incredibly kind to our students. They truly made them feel like they were the stars of the show.”