New beginnings for familiar face


Shaleigh Hebert, Writer

New Assistant Band Director Israel Castaneda joined the program this year after previously teaching at LCM as a marching and French horn private lessons instructor since 2017. After high school band, he was a member of the Lamar University Marching Band for four years, serving as a Drum Major for his senior year. While in college, Castaneda was a marching instructor for three years, two of those years were with LCM. He was also a part of The Cavalier Drum & Bugle Corps during the summers of 2016 and 2017.  

According to Castaneda, once he took what he was doing seriously, there was a large part of him that wanted to get better at doing it. This significant steppingstone made his plan to be a director after college clearer.  

“I realized there was only so much I could do as a student,” Castaneda said. “I thought that by becoming a director, I could make more of a difference for all of the other people on the field.”  

Normally when people want to excel in their profession, there is a driving force that gives purpose to why they’re doing it. For Castaneda, this was when the band hall became his home outside of home.  

“It wasn’t the fact that I just wanted to hang out with my friends or directors, I just really felt like I belonged somewhere,” Castaneda said. “As I began my career, I wanted to be able to make that kind of environment for any student that walks in through my band hall.”  

Castaneda said the skills he gained from hours in a practice room is not all music has helped him achieve. Band taught him leadership skills, patience, organizational skills, and how to deal with different kinds of people. Another thing that’s impacted him are people he has encountered throughout his career.  

“I’ve met so many amazing and passionate people through music that drive me to keep getting better every day,” Castaneda said. “People in the business truly want to see music education grow and being around those people has helped me see the bright side in teaching every day.”  

I’ve met so many amazing and passionate people through music”

Keeping a positive attitude within any organization is a key factor to its success. This can be challenging to a group of about 150 people during marching season, but according to Castaneda, it’s something the members of the band do well. 

“There is a lot of detail-oriented work that goes into making an eight-minute show happen in the middle of a football game,” Castaneda said. “I think the members see that making music and a production is worth it in the end, so they’re able to enjoy it and share it with some of the younger members.”  

According to Castaneda, he has always believed people will enjoy music more if they’re better individual players and are able to achieve and appreciate it more. Director of Bands Jose Ochoa and Castaneda have talked about individual musicianship as a goal for the band this year. Alongside his goals, Castaneda said the first rewarding moment he experienced was when his mother asked where she could buy an LCM shirt so she could support him as a Director for the band. Overall, Castaneda said he’s grateful to be a part of the wonderful tradition of the LCM Band Program.   

“I haven’t been here long, but I’m excited to see what we can create and I’m thankful of how receptive the students have been of me during my first year,” Castaneda said. “The best part of my day is seeing all the hard work that the students pour not only to themselves, but to the people around them as well as the people who have been a part of this program before them. Go Bears go!”