As the preparations have already begun for a new school year, it won’t be long until the humid morning air will share its space with the sound of the Tiger Marching Band. It is almost time for band camp and Troup bands will see two new leaders in Bobby Castillo and Ryan McInturff.
Castillo is the new director for the high school band but he is far from new in the band world.
A transplant from Marble Falls, Castillo graduated from Texas State University (known then as Southwest Texas State). He began his teaching career in Tyler ISD as the director at Hogg Middle School and also worked with the percussion section at Robert E. Lee High School. After that first year, he moved over to Lee full time and later became the head band director for the high school’s program. Castillo taught at Lee for 13 years.
His interest in music began during the MTV generation of Michael Jackson and others.
“I wanted to play the guitar,” Castillo said. “I got a guitar and began to learn the chords but it hurt my fingers so bad I didn’t stick with it.”
That would be the last time he would quit something that had to do with music. Castillo discovered the drums in the sixth grade band and never looked back.
“It was actually my seventh grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Ray, who made me realize that music would be my career,” he said. “We were talking about careers and I’d heard somewhere that engineers were smart and made lots of money. I was smart and wanted to make lots of money so I said I wanted to be an engineer.”
When the discussion was over his teacher said she was surprised to hear that he would choose that path. She told him she always thought he would choose music. And he did.
“I had that feeling of wanting to help other people, helping them to be their best,” Castillo said. “I didn’t see myself doing anything else in life other than being a band director.”
Band directors in his learning years were very encouraging and helped him along the way.
Coming to Troup was attractive to Castillo in at least one particular area. He is looking forward to having the opportunity to work with students from their first day in sixth grade band and helping them along the way through their high school experience.
“It creates a unified culture where kids know what to expect,” he said. “We create procedures and a system to where they can really thrive in a very consistent environment.”
He is expecting about 70 to 80 high schoolers to show up for band this year. With the change in leadership it is a bit hard to gauge. Change can be difficult but he is not looking to make any massive changes.
He also realizes that students in Troup are involved in several campus activities, sports and band and he wants to be as flexible as possible in dealing with those types of situations.
“There will be some days where band is not the priority and there are other days when the day is all about band,” he said. “We can all be flexible.”
He is excited about the opportunity to work with Ryan McInturff, the new middle school director. McInturff is bringing with him a very strong background in military style marching band and Castillo is anxious about the chance to learn and work together.
McInturff has been a part of the Van ISD band program since he was a student himself. He was raised in Van, came back there to do his student teaching and the following year came on board as the assistant band director for three months. It wasn’t long before he was in the lead position of his alma mater.
McInturff credits Jasper Huff, his former director in Van, with creating many opportunities and truly making a great impact on his musical skill as well as helping him make good decisions to get him where he is today.
He plays trombone making the brass section his specialty. He has spent his entire band career doing military style marching so this too is a specialty for him.
“My philosophy on education is that you’re a teacher first and you use the tools that you are provided to be able to do that,” McInturff said. “We have a specific purpose to serve to the community and to these kids. I look at band as being a sort of work environment. While we are teaching them to play an instrument we also have the responsibility to teach them how to leave high school with the ability to be a good and productive citizen. Communication, time management, how to handle themselves in a professional environment, these are all life skills they will need to be successful.”
Leadership training started this week for upperclassmen. This time is meant to talk to these leaders, get to know them and see how they view this program.
“We have already talked to several of the students and we know how much they have invested into the band program and they want to continue to see the program grow and be successful and they are willing to work with us to do that,” McInturff said. “Troup has a very rich history of some fine bands and we want to continue to build on that tradition.”
Castillo says he has a pretty simple but useful analogy he has used with his students with a good deal of success.
“I use the analogy of the crock pot,” Castillo said. “You think about your mom getting the crock pot out and she throws in a big slab of raw meat at eight in the morning and you know it won’t be ready to eat until five in the afternoon. You’ll begin to smell it around noon and you begin to anticipate having that roast. Once it gets cooking you begin to know it will be great but it takes time.”
Expectations are high on both sides of the music stand. Castillo and McInturff are looking forward to leading these students in a way that will teach them much more than how to play a musical instrument. Orchestrating life is a part of their curriculum as well.