Alumni Spotlight #1 - Austin Hamm

Jan. 15, 2015

As a part of a new series I will be catching up with and posting responses from former percussionists here at AHS. Some of these students went on to play in college and some did not, but I think you will find that they all discovered ways that band/percussion helped to prepare them for what was ahead...

Year graduated from Argyle: 2009

College Graduation date and degree earned:
University of North Texas 2013, B.S. in Kinesiology, Minor in Social Sciences.

Personal High School band achievements:
Joined the HS Wind Ensemble in 7th grade
HS Wind Ensemble 2005-2009
Snare section leader 2006, 2007
Tenor section leader 2008
Drumline/Percussion section leader 2008, 2009
HS Band Outstanding Performer 2005-2008
HS Band Vice President 2008-2009

Band Achievements during your membership:
2 UIL State Marching Championships 2005, 2008
3 UIL State Marching Finalist appearances 2005, 2006, 2008
TMEA Class C Honor Band 2005
TMEA Class AA Honor Band 2006
TMEA Class AAA Honor Band 2009
ATSSB All-State band 2008
All-Region band 2005-2009
UIL Texas State Outstanding Soloist 2007
UIL Texas State Ensemble 2007
Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic Performer 2007
Plano Drumline Competition Division Champions 2006, 2007

Other High School achievements or groups that you were involved in:
National Honor Society, HS theater

College achievements (this can also include your drum corps experience):
UNT Green Brigade Drumline 2010, 2011
UNT Indoor Drumline 2010, 2011
Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle corps 2011, 2012
 What is your favorite memory from high school band?

It's too hard to pick just one.  I remember all of the State Marching Championships, how amazing it felt to win as the underdogs in 2008, my State Outstanding Soloist performance, all the band trips we went on to Corpus Christi, South Padre, Disney World, pep-rallies and Friday night games, band bashes, winning the Plano Drumline Competition, all the friends I made and all the fun things I got to do with them.  Basically the whole experience with the high school band is my favorite memory from my entire high school career.  It's what got me through high school in the first place.

What is your funniest memory from high school band?

It's hard to pick just one of these, too.  I remember my first band trip to Corpus Christi, we had a bunch of Xbox's set up in our condo room playing HALO and Mr. Burk, the assistant band director at the time, came in and sat down and started beating everyone so bad.  It was hilarious.  Also all the pranks that happened on band trips were so funny, and thankfully harmless.

What non-musical traits did you learn that have helped you in college / since graduating

Being in the band definitely taught me a lot of important skills other than just being a musician.  In band I learned how to excel as a musician and performer through focused, dedicated practice.  I also learned what it feels like to be passionate about something.  Once I left high school, I realized that I could take the process I used to be ultra successful in band and apply it to other facets of life.  And most importantly, I took the feeling of the passion I had for band and music and used that as a guide to find a profession that made me feel the same way, so that I knew I would be in a field that was rewarding to me on a level beyond just my paycheck.

What else did you get out of being in the Argyle high school band and why would you recommend that students be in the band? 

I think another aspect of band that was probably the most important to me was that I made friends who cared about the "me" that I really was.  No one has to pretend to be someone they aren't just to fit in.  The friends I made in band are friends that I'll have for the rest of my life.

Is there anything else that you would like people to know about your experience in band?

I also want to talk about just how incredible the music education program is at Argyle.  The staff are world class, and I could not have ever dreamed of better teachers and mentors in my life.  And the supplemental instructors and private lesson teachers that they bring in to the school are equally as phenomenal.  Anyone who ever taught me anything about music has been the best of the very best.  I am fully aware of how rare it is to have the musical experience that I did and just how unbelievably lucky I am to have had it.  All of my teachers have been so insightful and helpful to me, even with aspects of my life beyond music and the band.  If not for them, I would not have learned how to be both successful as a performer and successful as a human being. 

Band is, in my opinion, the most rewarding organization you can be a part of, especially in Argyle.  Not to mention, the Argyle Bands are one of, if not THE, most successful programs in the school, the state, and even the country.   You will make friends and memories that will last a life time.

Drumline Takes 1st place again at PdlC!

Sept. 27, 2014

The Argyle High School Drumline placed first in class A Div. 1 at the Plano Drumline Competition on Sept. 27.  The students did a truly outstanding job!  Our overall score was a 91.67 which is the highest score that we have ever achieved as a drumline!

In addition to taking 1st place, the drumline also won the best snares, best basses, and best front ensemble captions.  Congratulations drumline!  Your hard work this season has truly paid off!

HS Region Band Videos are posted!!!

Dec. 2nd, 2013

I have posted 6 videos pertaining to the HS region auditions for this Saturday.  Please encourage your student to check them out and practice this week!

The videos can be found here.

Please let me know if you have any problems or questions!

-Mr. Lemish

Region Band Auditions

Nov. 1st, 2013

Region band auditions are coming up and hopefully you've noticed your student practicing their audition music at home!  The region band is comprised of students from the 3A and smaller schools in our area.  This band can be thought of as a type of "All-Star" band made up of the best players from Argyle and our neighboring schools.

The middle school region band auditions are coming up on November 12th and will be held at Aubrey high school.  High school region band auditions will be on Dec. 7th at Bowie high school

At the middle school level there are approximately 13-14 schools that compete in our region.  The high school competition is larger with nearly 30 schools represented! Most years there are about 30 students auditioning at the middle school level and 45-50 at the high school level.  

The students are judged by a panel of either 3 or 5 judges who rank all of the students.  The judges are behind a curtain so they are not able to see the student or know what school they represent.  The top 8 students in the middle school audition are placed in the region band.  For high school there are actually 2 different bands for our region.  The 1st through 8th place students are placed in the symphonic band, while the 9th through 16th place students are placed in the concert band.  The students that make the band will all perform a concert in January.

I have placed videos of the middle school snare drum and timpani etudes on the "media" portion of the website.  Click here to go there now or you can navigate there from the home page.  I will be making similar videos for the high school etudes in the near future.

Please encourage your student to be diligent in practicing at home and encourage them to come before or after school to get help from me.  You child can also video tape or audio record themselves and send me the video and I'll be glad to check it out.  I will do everything that I can to help them successful!

-Mr. Lemish

Video Lesson #1 - Buzz Rolls

Oct. 22nd, 2013

This is the first of a series of videos that teach different concepts and techniques that are critical to the percussionist.  Please feel free to ask me any questions that you might have and happy drumming!

Here are the exercises listed in the video:

Be sure to produce a "triple-stroke buzz" at each tempo.  Also, work for the perfect 3-dimensional sound!

This one is great for working on changing the density of your buzzes when performing different roll bases.  Be sure to only use your triple stroke buzz!

Front Ensemble Performance Techniques

Oct. 1st, 2013

Each time that we compete in a contest we receive voice recorded information from each judge.  These "tapes" give us as directors and students a lot of insight as to what we need to do to take our group to the next level.  

At the Plano drumline contest one of the comments that we received from the judges had to do with the performance level of the front ensemble.  This refers to how they move as they play, and how well they communicate visually amongst themselves and to the audience.

In class today we listened to the judges tapes and the students were able to hear the comments for themselves. What we found was that the judge on the field with us thought we did a great job visually and were able to communicate our intent quite clearly.  The judge that was half way up the stands thought we did well, but needed to do more.  The judge that was near the pressbox did not feel like we communicated visually at all.  Obviously we are doing the right things, but we just aren't doing it big enough to make it to the pressbox.  The rest of our contests for the year will only have judges in the pressbox, so clearly this is an area in which we need to improve!

 In our discussion afterwards we discussed different ways that we can approach getting better and performing.  Here are a few of the ideas that the students had:
  • Perform in front of the mirrors to see what you really look like.
  • Watch video of our performances and see how we come across to the audience.
  • Watch videos of other groups so that we understand what we need to do.
  • Make sure that all performers are aware of the "mood" of each section of the show so that they can move in an appropriate manner.
  • Make sure that work on performing visually every time that we work on the show.
While we will be working on all of the aforementioned items, one that I really think will help is watching videos of other groups.  One group that I have really admired over the last several years has been the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps.  Their percussion section is fantastic and a great reference for all front ensembles at any level.  Here is a video from their warm-up prior to their 2013 World Championship preliminary performance. (Note that one of our front ensemble instructors, AJ Covey, is playing timpani and shows up at the 6:34 mark!)

I think it is interesting to note that at the 8:35 mark, the instructor mentions that they "sound really good, but it looks like they are reading a book about biochemistry."  While these guys are at the top of their game, they are still pushing to do even more and make it even better!

There are so many great musical and visual moments on this video.  I hope that it will inspire all of you the way that it has inspired me!


Argyle Drumline Takes 1st Place at Contest! 

September 29th, 2013

On September 28th the drumline competed against nine other schools at the Plano Drumline Contest held at Clark Stadium.  This is the ninth time for the drumline to compete in this contest and their 5th win. In addition to placing first the drumline was also awarded the "Best Snareline" and "Best Tenorline" caption as well.

I'm very proud of all of the students for their hardwork and commitment to preparing for this contest.  Also, thanks to all of the parents who helped move equipment!

-Mr. Lemish