The History of the West Texas Band Program
The West Texas Buffalo Band has been fortunate over the years to have had outstanding students, instrumental faculty, directors and administrators that worked together to foster a commitment to excellence. We hope this timeline will give you a better understanding of the legacy that we all share and a renewed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of those that made the West Texas A&M University band program one of the finest in the nation.
On September 20, 1910, president R. B. Cousins (1910-1918), and a faculty of 16 welcomed 152 students to West Texas State Normal College in Canyon, Texas.
On March 25, 1914, the explosion of a workman's torch set off a fire that quickly destroyed the Administration Building, which served as the only classroom, laboratory, library and office structure on campus.
On April 16, 1916, only 25 months after the fire, a new four-story Administration Building, containing not only classrooms and offices but also a library, swimming pool and gymnasium was dedicated. Described then as the "greatest building in Texas, the Capitol only excepted," this magnificent structure, now called "Old Main," still serves the campus well.
In the fall of 1917, the music department was officially recognized, and the Buffalo Band was established under the first head of the music department, Dr. Wallace R. Clark (1917-1951).
In September 1918, R. B. Cousins resigned as president, and the Board of Regents promptly selected as his replacement, history professor J.A. Hill (1918-1948), who would hold the office of president for the next 30 years.
With the activities of the music department becoming more complex and with the influx of students after World War I, Dr. Clark saw the necessity of creating a separate post for the job of band director and chose R. N. Brothers (1920-1923).
In 1922, the Band Camp began on the campus of WT.
Mr. Brothers remained with the institution for two years before C. E. Strain became the 2nd Director of Bands at WT (1923-1942).
In 1923, the legislature changed the institution's name to West Texas State Teachers College.
In 1928, the $300,000 Education Building, located just west of Old Main and now "mothballed," housed the training school and was the home of most of the liberal arts activities.
A 1926 photograph of the West Texas State Teachers College band, posed on the steps of the Old Main administration building. The all-male band members are standing in three rows with director C. E. Strain front and center.
A 1928 picture of the West Texas State Teachers College Band. The membership comprised males and females; those with C. E. Strain were seated on the left side of the front row.
A photograph of the West Texas State Teachers College Marching from the 1920s. The two campus buildings in the photo are Old Main and the Education Building which is currently mothballed. The old W.T.S.C. stadium was approximately where the WTAMU Classroom Center is currently.
In 1923, the first band uniforms were purchased for the West Texas State Teachers College Band, C. E. (Pop) Strain, director.
The first WTSTC Band tour was conducted in 1924. The band traveled by train to the West Texas Chamber of Commerce meeting in Brownwood. W.R. Clark served on the U.S. national steering committee to set up Chambers of Commerce groups all over the United States. The WT Band toured and gave concerts along the train route in Happy, Tulia, Kress, Plainview, Hale Center, Abernathy, and Lubbock.
The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939. It began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. State funding for the entire college was cut in half. The WT Band rehearsed on the first floor of the Old Main building, and concerts were given in the Old Main Auditorium.
After a successful career, and 19 years of service to the band program, C. E. Strain announced his retirement in 1942.
Mr. M. J. Newman (1943-1958), the Borger High School Band Director at the time, was chosen to replace Strain and became the 3rd Director of Bands at WT.
In June, 1944, Mr. Newman took a leave of absence to enter the U. S. Navy.
During Newman’s absence, Glenn A. Truax (1945-1946) served as interim director of the band. The man shortage during the darkest part of the war compelled Mr. Truax to rely on few men, with a great majority of women.
Newman served 27 months in the service, including time in the South Pacific, and received his discharge in time to resume his position in the fall of 1946.
In 1946, the band accompanied the football team to Abilene, Texas, for the game. Its greatest importance, however, was its involvement at the home games.
During the homecoming celebration in 1946, the band sponsored the State Marching Contest, with thirty bands participating.
The WT band’s highlight of 1946 was the West Texas Annual Band Clinic for the bands of the Panhandle.
In 1947, M. J. Newman was responsible for establishing the Alpha Psi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi on the campus of WT (for more information, see the following).
In 1948, J.A. Hill retired. The responsibility for dealing with the explosive growth of the college in the postwar period fell to its 3rd president, James P. Cornette (1948-1973).
In 1949, the school again changed its name, this time to West Texas State College.
In 1949, the Xi chapter of Tau Beta Sigma was established on the WTSC campus by M. J. Newman.
Dr. William Presser (1950-1951) served as department head for two years prior to his departure for the University of Southern Mississippi.
William O. “Bill” Latson (1950-1952, 1954-1958) taught low brass and served as the first assistant band director. Latson joined Newman at the University of Georgia. His principal instrument was trombone.
Bill Miller (1952) served as an assistant for the band.
David Kaplan (1955-1959) was the first clarinet instructor at WT before moving to Canada in 1960, where he was head of the music department at the University of Saskatchewan.
In 1958, Newman left WT to teach at the University of Georgia in Athens.
In 1958, Dr. Ted Crager (1958-1963) succeeded Newman as head of the music department and became the 4th director of bands at WT.
Dr. Crager came to WT from Monterey High School in Lubbock, where he had a successful band program.
Dr. Crager was a graduate of Columbia University, where he studied conducting with Norval Church.
He served as the Director of Bands until he left to join the faculty at Texas Women’s College, followed by the University of Miami where he served as assistant dean until his retirement.
Rowie Durden (1959-1992) was hired to replace Kaplan as clarinet teacher. Durden received a Master’s degree from Columbia University where he studied conducting with Norval Church.
In 1959, the Fine Arts Building was opened. Today (May 2021), it is a parking lot west of Mary Moody Northen Hall.
In 1963, Governor John B. Connally signed a bill to change the school's name to West Texas State University.
By the end of the 1960s, the university had acquired its own Board of Regents and established a School of Fine Arts.
The 1960s were a golden era for the band program.
Dr. Gary T. Garner (1963-2002) joined the music faculty and became the 5th director of bands at WTSU. He taught woodwind lessons, music appreciation, and stage band. Prior to joining the faculty at WT, Garner was the marching band director at the University of Southern California and was in the process of completing his doctorate at USC. Garner considered Crager to be a friend and mentor, and followed him in three different jobs: Hutchinson Junior School, Monterey High School, and finally, West Texas State University.
In 1963, the WT instrumental faculty consisted of Rowie Durden (1959-1992), who taught clarinet, percussion, and conducting, as well as Dr. Gary Garner on flute, double reeds, and saxophone. Gerald Hemphill (1962-1965) was responsible for teaching all the brass. His principal instrument was trumpet.
During the spring of 1965, Rowie Durden and Gerald Hemphill served as associate directors for the WT Band program.
The growth of the program led to the addition of faculty positions.
Dr. John Green (1964-1977) joined the faculty in 1964 as head of the music department. Dr. Green came to WTSU from Long Beach State University where the assistant director of bands was H. Robert Reynolds.
Alice Cooke (1964-1965) taught oboe part-time at WT. She was the principal oboist in the first Eastman Wind Ensemble under the direction of Frederick Fennell.
Donald Munsell (1965-1968) taught bassoon.
In 1965, Don Baird (1965-1979) joined the faculty at WT to teach low brass and to assist with the band program. Don Baird was the Director of Bands at Phillips University prior to joining the WTSU faculty.
In 1965, David Ritter (1965-2001) taught trumpet, jazz band and brass choir. David Ritter was instrumental in the development of the jazz program at WT. He came from Arkansas State Teachers College prior to joining the faculty at WTSU.
In 1966, the Symphonic Band performed at the Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma District Convention at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth.
The WTSU Symphonic Band performed at the 1967 MENC Southwest Division Convention at the famous Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Emerson Haraden (1967-1977) joined the music faculty at WT to teach horn.
The WTSU Symphonic Band performed its first concert under the direction of Dr. Garner at the 1968 TMEA Convention in Austin.
Alan Hawkins (1968-1974) replaced Munsell as bassoon instructor. Upon leaving WT, he joined the faculty at the University of Kansas.
During Dr. Gary Garner’s 39 years of tenure at WT, the West Texas State University Symphonic Band established a national reputation as one of the finest ensembles in the country. The Symphonic Band performed ten times at TMEA, twice at the national CBDNA conference, and twice at Carnegie Hall.
In 1969, the School of Fine Arts was formed, thus elevating the status of the departments of art, music and speech.
Dr. Green was the first dean of the School of Fine Arts. Mary Moody Northen Hall was his pet project, and he was very much involved with the conceptual design (as well as scouring the state for funding).
Dr. Green sitting at his desk with the floor plan for Mary Moody Northen Hall.
Dr. George Umberson (1970-1977) was named chairman of the music department.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner, performed its second concert at the 1971 TMEA Convention in Houston.
In 1970, Dr. Charles Veasey (1970-1973) was hired to teach oboe and music theory.
Lloyd Watkins (1973-1977) became the institution's fourth president.
Charles Veasey departed WT in 1973 to join the faculty of North Texas State University and Dr. Robert Krause (1973-present) was hired to teach oboe, music theory and music history. Dr. Krause came to WT from Eastern New Mexico where he taught oboe.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Gary Garner, performed its third concert at the 1974 TMEA Convention, in San Antonio.
Dr. William Davis (1975-1981) replaced Hawkins as bassoon instructor and music theory teacher.
The WTSU Symphonic Band performed its first performance under the direction of Dr. Garner at the 1975 National CBDNA Convention in Berkeley, California.
In 1976, Ron Lemon (1976-2007) replaced Haraden as horn instructor. He came to WT from the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra.
In 1976, James Beckham (1976-1980) was hired to teach percussion part-time at WT.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner performed a fourth time at the 1977 TMEA Convention, in San Antonio.
In 1977, the regents selected Max Sherman (1977-1982), a popular political leader who represented the Panhandle in the Texas State Senate, as university president.
Dr. Umberson left WT to become the chairman of the music department at Arizona State University in 1977.
Dr. Harry Haines (1977-1998) replaced Dr. Umberson as head of the music department in 1977. Dr. Harry Haines came to WTSU from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma.
Dr. Green left Canyon in 1977 to become dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern Mississippi and was replaced by Dr. Hugh Sanders (1978-84).
Mary Moody Northen Hall opened its doors in 1977.
Mary Moody Northen Hall was built to accommodate the increasing numbers of students in the fine arts programs.
Mary Moody Northen Hall housed music studios, two dance studios, a public art gallery, the 572-seat Northen Recital Hall and more than 50 art and art-related studios, computer labs, classrooms, offices along with a beautiful atrium for receptions and special events.
In the spring of 1978, composer, Norman Dello Joio vists the WTSU campus. During his visit, Dello Joio attended rehearsals in preparation for recording an album of his music by the WTSU Symphonic Band for Golden Crest Records.
In 1978, Sally Turk (1978-2009) joined the faculty of WT to teach flute. She came to WTSU from Youngstown University where she taught flute.
In 1978, Dr. Garner assumed duties as orchestra director.
In 1978, Dr. Ted DuBois (1978-2016) replaced Dr. Krause for one year while he finished his doctorate at the University of Miami.
In the fall of 1978, Dr. Garner formed the first WTSU Wind Ensemble.
In 1979, Dr. Joe Cox (1979-2008), became low brass instructor, replacing Don Baird, who died at the age of 47. He came to WTSU from Texas A&I Kingsville University. Dr. Cox’s principal instrument was the trombone.
Dr. Hugh Sanders (1967-1984) replaced Dr. Green as dean in 1979, and continued as director of the WT Chorale.
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The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner, performed its fifth performance at 1980 TMEA in San Antonio.
In 1980, Dr. DuBois returned to join the faculty of WT as music history professor.
In 1980, Tom Horst (1980-1983) became the first full-time percussion teacher of WT and replaced Beckham.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner performed its second concert at the 1981 National CBDNA Convention in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In 1981, Bruce Hammel (1981-1985) replaced Dr. Davis as bassoon teacher.
After a four-and-a-half year tenure as president, Max Sherman resigned in January 1982, to launch an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the position of Texas Attorney General.
The Board of Regents then gave Dr. Gail Shannon (1982-1984), the academic vice president, a one-year appointment as President. A few months later, Shannon received a second one-year appointment.
In 1983, the Symphonic Band performed its first concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner, performed its sixth concert at the 1984 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
In 1984, Dr. Ed Roach (1984-1990) was named as the seventh president of WTSU.
The Director’s Band, directed by Dr. Gary Garner, performed at the 1984 Texas Band Masters Association in San Antonio.
In 1984, Dr. Susan Martin Tariq (1984-present) replaced Tom Horst as percussion teacher. Prior to joining the faculty at WT, she taught percussion and instrumental music at Homestead High School in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Dr. David Jorns (1984-1988) was appointed to serve as dean of Fine Arts in 1984, and Dr. Hugh Sanders departed WT to join the faculty at Baylor University.
In 1986, Dr. Tina Carpenter (1986-present) replaced Bruce Hammel as bassoon and music theory instructor. Hammel left WT to teach bassoon at Virginia Commonwealth University.
In 1986, Dr. Robert Spring (1986-1988) replaced Rowie Durden as clarinet teacher. Spring came to WT from Moringside College in Sioux City, Iowa, where he taught clarinet, and was the Director of the Marching and Concert Bands.
In the spring of 1987, the WTSU Symphonic Band performed its second concert on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
In the fall of 1987, Don Lefevre (1987-present) joined the faculty at WT as saxophone teacher and assistant band director. Lefevre came to WT from Midland where he was the San Jacinto Junior High School Band Director.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner, performed its seventh concert at the 1988 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
In the fall of 1988, Douglas Storey (1988-present) joined the faculty to teach clarinet. He came to WTSU from Texas A&I Kingsville University, where he was the woodwind instructor.
In 1988, Dr. Sue Park (1966- 2007) became the Dean of Fine Arts and replaced Dr. Jorns.
The university joined the Texas A&M University System on September 1, 1990.
The Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System soon named Dr. Barry B. Thompson (1990-1994), President of Tarleton State University, to be the eighth President of the University.
The WTSU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner performed its eighth concert at the 1992 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
On June 1, 1993, WT officially became West Texas A&M University.
In August 1994, Barry B. Thompson left to become chancellor of The Texas A&M University System and was replaced by president Dr. Russell C. Long (1994-2005).
In the fall of 1994, Don Lefevre assumed responsibility for the Buffalo Marching Band.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner performed its ninth concert at the 1996 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
After 22 years of service at WT, Dr. Harry Haines retired in 1997.
Dr. Ted DuBois became the interim head of the Department Music and Dance. DuBois was replaced by Dr. Melvyn Raiman, who remained in the position during the spring semester of 1998.
Dr. Ted DuBois was appointed the head of the Department of Music and Dance during the summer of 1998.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Dr. Garner, performed its tenth concert at the 1999 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
In 1999, Dr. Russell Teweleit (1999-present) was hired as coordinator of the music education program and assisted with the marching band. Dr. Teweleit came from Canyon High School prior to joining the faculty at WTAMU.
The Director’s Band, directed by Dr. Gary Garner, performed at the 2001 Texas Band Masters Association in San Antonio.
In 2001, Mr. Ritter announced his retirement after 36 years as trumpet teacher at WTAMU, and was replaced by Dr. William Takacs (2002-present). Prior to his appointment at WT, he was the trumpet instructor of the University of West Georgia.
In 2002, Dr. Teweleit became the director of the WT Jazz Band.
In the spring of 2002, Dr. Gary Garner announced his retirement after 39 years of service, and Don Lefevre was named the 6th director of bands at WT.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Lefevre, performed its eleventh concert at the 2004 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
The Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex opened in August, 2006 with smart classroom technology to actively engage students in the learning process. Other special features included state-of-the-art radio and television studios, a 304-seat Branding Iron Theatre, the Fine Arts Recital Hall, the Happy State Bank Studio black box theatre, acting studios, music studios, and choir rehearsal rooms.
With the opening of the new building, the College of Fine Arts was renamed the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities.
Dr. J. Patrick O’Brien (2006-2016) was named the 10th President of West Texas A&M University on Feb. 21, 2006. Prior to his appointment at WTAMU, Dr. O’Brien was the dean of the College of Business at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A new addition for Mary Northen Hall was completed in 2006. It offered fine arts students a new band/orchestra rehearsal hall, percussion studio, music studios, practice rooms, offices, and easy access ramps to the Northen Recital Hall stage.
After 41 years of service to the university, Dr. Sue Park announced her retirement in 2007.
Royal Brantley, department head of art, communication, and theatre served as interim dean prior to the appointment of Dr. James Rennier (2007-2011) in 2007.
In 2007, Mark Trimble (2007-2008) became the instructor of flute while Sally Turk took a leave of absence to teach a year in Switzerland.
In 2008, Doug Storey assumed responsibility of the WT Jazz program.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Lefevre, performed its twelfth concert at the 2008 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
Dr. Teweleit replaced Mr. Lefevre as the WTAMU Buffalo Marching Band director.
After 28 years of service, Dr. Joseph Cox announced his retirement and was replaced by Dr. Rai Morales (2008-2014). Dr. Morales assisted Dr. Teweleit with the Buffalo Marching Band.
Dr. William Weigard (2008-2009) replaced Ron Lemon as horn teacher in 2008.
In 2008, Dr. Edward Kahler (1998-present) replaced Dr. DuBois as head of the Music and Dance Department. Dr. Kahler remained the head of the music therapy program at WT.
In 2008, Dr. BJ Brooks (1998-present) joined the faculty at WTAMU as Assistant Professor of Theory and Composition. Prior to his employment at WT, Brooks was Director of Bands at Seymour High School.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Lefevre, performed its third CBDNA National Convention concert in 2009 in Austin.
In 2009, Dr. Guglielmo Manfredi (2009-present) joined the faculty and replaced Dr. Weigard to teach horn. In addition to teaching horn, Dr. Manfredi assists with the WTAMU Marching Band and conducts the university band. Dr. Manfredi also, conducts the WT Brass Choir and Horn Ensembles. Manfredi joined the faculty at WTAMU after completing a D.M.A. in horn performance and conducting at the University of Miami.
Director’s Band, directed by Dr. Gary Garner, performed at the 2010 Texas Band Masters Association in San Antonio.
In 2010, Dr. Edward Kahler became the assistant to the dean, and Dr. Robert Krause became the head of the Music and Dance Department.
In 2011, Dr. Jessica Mallard (2011-present) was appointed dean of the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities replacing Dr. Rennier.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Lefevre, performed its thirteenth concert at the 2012 TMEA Convention. They also performed at the CBDNA Southwest Regional Convention. Both concerts were in San Antonio.
In 2012, Dr. Robert Hansen (1987-present) replaced Dr. Robert Krause as head of the Music and Dance Department.
In 2013, the WTAMU Music and Dance Department became the School of Music at West Texas A&M University.
Helen Blackburn (2013-present) joined the faculty and replaced Mark Trimble as the flute teacher at WT. Blackburn continued to serve as principal flutist with the Dallas Opera Orchestra.
In 2014, Dr. Manfredi began to assist with the Buffalo Marching Band
Dr. Rai Morales departed WTAMU to teach trombone at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi in 2015.
In 2015, Dr. John Shanks (2015-present) was hired to teach trombone at WTAMU
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Lefevre, performed its fourteenth concert at the 2016 TMEA Convention in San Antonio.
Dr. Walter V. Wendler (2016-present) became the 11th president of West Texas A&M University on September 15, 2016.
In 2016, Dr. James Barger (2016-present) was hired to teach saxophone and assist with the jazz program at WTAMU.
In the spring of 2017, composer Michael Daugherty visited the WTAMU campus to help prepare the upcoming CBDNA performance of his composition, Of War and Peace.
The WTAMU Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Lefevre, performed its fourth CBDNA National Convention concert in 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.
The WTAMU Symphonic was selected to perform at the 2021 National CBDNA Convention in Athens, Georgia. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the convention was postponed until the year 2023.
In the fall of 2021, Dr. BJ Brooks assumes the responsibilities of the WTAMU Buffalo Marching Band. Brooks brings extensive experience to the Buffalo Marching with a rich background in Drum & Bugle Corps.