BALLINGER — The Ballinger High School Bearcat band is truly the sum of its parts and relies on cooperation, communication and just plain hard work from everyone, from the parents to the students. Janet Wilson has been the director of the Bearcat band for a number of years and says that communication is the key to a successful season. 

“It’s a small school, we have 75 band students and you have to work well with other within the school. The school board and the administration are great and they all want the kids to have the opportunity to be involved in as many programs as possible,” Wilson said.  

 When it comes to the competitions and other performances, she relies on the help of parents and the booster club. 

“I’m fortunate that I have people that come out and help us a great deal,” Wilson said. “The junior high school band director, Matt Cleveland helps us and he also prepares the junior high band students to be good high school band students. Then we have the booster club, the parents, a percussion instructor, a color guard instructor, color guard choreographer, music writer, drill writer and three drum majors. They all help.  We have many students that are athletes so Coach (Chuck) Lipsey and I have a great working relationship and by working together, we ensure that the kids can enjoy being part of both activities and not limit them to having to make a difficult choice by having to choose a single activity to be part of. Additionally, many kids are also cheerleaders or in FFA so again, the communication and cooperation must be strong.  “

Wilson brags on the parents and sighs as she begins talking about their contributions and sacrifice on behalf of the band. 

  “Without the parents and the booster club, we would not be successful,” Wilson said. “Last year the band did well and made it up to the area competition, due to a lot of hard work and countless hours spent by the volunteers to help them.

“We have parents that drive the truck and tow the trailer, parents that ride the buses with the students to every event, parents that shine the kid’s shoes and set up their uniforms. They help us load and unload, they’re always willing to pitch in.” 

Indeed, the band is a concerted effort that requires Wilson to have CEO-type skills. Talking to her gives a glimpse into just how organized she is as she delves into the upcoming season without missing a beat. 

“Having so many people helping frees me up to concentrate on director responsibilities and duties and allows me time to coordinate with other people,” Wilson said. 

As for the upcoming marching season, Wilson says that it will be a great tune for the people to enjoy and “get a hold of.” When asked about the music she’s decided on, she says “The music is not a super-contemporary piece of music and I chose it because it will help work on the fundamentals of our sound and marching.” 

Wilson mentioned that one of the many goals of the junior high band was preparing them for the high school band, both fundamentally and mentally. 

“When a freshman goes to their first competition, as you see them standing there, waiting to go on the field, their eyes are as big as saucers and their breathing is heavy,” Wilson said. “We teach them to trust their drills, have confidence in themselves and work through the anxiety.” 

Wilson points out that the evolution of the band students become apparent as they progress year after year and begin shouldering more responsibility. She says that the most noticeable change comes when the students get together and start critiquing their own performance. 

“When I hear the students dissecting the show and their performance, I know that they’re becoming leaders and I love seeing them become that teaching mechanism for the band,” Wilson said. “Every band member is here because they want to be here, not because they’re required to. All of the band students are in both marching band and concert band.”

The amount of work that goes into making the band successful is immense and when you hear Wilson, who is married to a coach, talk about juggling their family responsibilities and ensuring that they spend quality with their own kids every week, the skill, organization, leadership, professionalism and hard work required of Wilson becomes all the more impressive. As with most good leaders, it’s hard to get Wilson to talk about herself and her own work hard work. She’d much rather discuss the work and sacrifice of those others who she says make the band successful. 

When it is all said and done, with all of the effort and sacrifices of everyone involved with the band, it doesn’t seem possible that they would not have a successful season. As you talk to Wilson, she talks about the band members with a fondness and respect, as if she were talking about her own children. It takes a lot of grit, determination, skill and coordination to be a band director and make the band what it is, but with Wilson and her team leading the students, there isn’t anything that they couldn’t accomplish.

If you’d like to get in contact with Wilson regarding the band, you can email her at: janet.wilson@ballinger.isd.net or call her at the school at: 325-365-7500, ext 5040.