The Bear Facts

LCM alum inspires students

Assistant+band+director+Justin+Hargraves+%28right%29+and+band+director+Jose+Ochoa+%28left%29+helped+senior+Tommy+Holland+earn+a+spot+in+the+5A+TMEA+All+Symphonic+Band.+
Assistant band director Justin Hargraves (right) and band director Jose Ochoa (left) helped senior Tommy Holland earn a spot in the 5A TMEA All Symphonic Band.

Assistant band director Justin Hargraves (right) and band director Jose Ochoa (left) helped senior Tommy Holland earn a spot in the 5A TMEA All Symphonic Band.

Photo courtesy of Justin Hargraves

Photo courtesy of Justin Hargraves

Assistant band director Justin Hargraves (right) and band director Jose Ochoa (left) helped senior Tommy Holland earn a spot in the 5A TMEA All Symphonic Band.

Erika Cook, Writer

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To be able to work at a place you are familiar with and have a career that you love is something only few are lucky to do. For Assistant Band Director Justin Hargraves, he is just that fortunate.

Hargraves graduated from LCM in 2010 and originally planned to attend A&M to major in Biology. After one year, he changed his mind upon realizing how much he missed music and band.

“I got back in band my second semester of A&M; then I transferred to Lamar after that,” Hargraves said. “So whenever I switched to Lamar and became a music major, I tried to teach private lessons with as many schools as I could and so I got Nederland, Bridge City, and LCM. I started coming around here a lot. I started coming three days a week for private lessons when I was busiest, and I would just talk to Ochoa and of course Mr. (Steve) Schoppert a lot because he was my band director, and then I got to be good friends with Ochoa and I knew there was going to be a job opening the year I was scheduled to graduate. So I just kind of stayed around.”

For most teachers, writing and dealing with paperwork is a major aspect of the job. But for band directors, they have the opportunity to work one on one with the students in an active and hands-on way.

“My favorite thing about directing is that there’s not a whole lot of paperwork involved,” Hargraves said. “I’m not great at paperwork or cleanliness, as you can tell from my office. Most days, I have someone clean this up like every month cause I can’t stand to do it. But I like being up there and you don’t have to worry about writing anything down, you just get to make music and that’s what I enjoy doing the most.”

Next year is an important year, as the band has the chance to go to State for the third time in a row. The band has to work hard to meet this goal and the directors have already began to prepare for the new year, in order to make the season as seamless as possible for all of the students. Every year after marching season, the director’s and band technicians hold a meeting to discuss what was good and bad this last year and what they can do better for next year.

“I’m looking forward to meeting every day next year,” Hargraves said. “Next year is also an advancing year for us and we just got done with our show meeting, so we have a pretty good idea of what our show is going to be like. I’m excited about that. We also talked about how the marching season went and how we can make things better for the upcoming year.”

Just as Hargraves now has the opportunity to have an impact on his students, he said he learned from those who inspired him, much like his high school and college band directors.

“I think I was really lucky that I had fantastic band directors,” Hargraves said. “David Johns was my junior high band director. He was just real fun and he always made band super exciting, even though he was pretty hardcore and in your face about everything. Mr. Stone is a really good motivator, he knows how to get people doing what they need to do and I was always excited to be apart of his band and do what he asked me to do.”

As an LCM alumnus, Hargraves sees the differences between the time he was a student and his position now as a teacher. He is able to take his own experiences of rehearsing and learning in the same band hall he now teaches in.

“I think our marching band has changed the most since I’ve been in high school,”Hargraves said. “If you look at our State video in 2008, it was a good band. But if you look at how we are now, we do a lot more stuff visually. The music is generally more diverse; a lot of our stuff had one theme. I would say our marching band has changed styles pretty significantly over the past nine years.”

Hargraves is a young man who just wants success for the band, and for the students to love the band he loves so much. His goals base more around the students and for them to achieve their goals and to help them however he can.

“I don’t ever really plan on becoming a head band director,” Hargraves said. “I just want to come to work and play some challenging music and get good results with it. My goal is to just keep getting better and pushing harder literature that kids are able to play each and every year.”

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