WT Band Student Spotlight: Braden Lefevre 2024

Name: Braden Lefevre

Years in Band: 2018 - 2024

Graduation & Degrees:
(Spring 2024 Expected) Master of Music Performance - Instrumental Conducting

(Spring 2022) Music - E.C.-12 Certification - Instrumental Emphasis, B.M.

Current Residence & Activities: I currently reside in Canyon, Texas, where I am finishing my Master’s degree in Instrumental Conducting at West Texas A&M University. I work for the WTAMU School of Music as a Graduate Assistant and serve as the Director of the WTAMU Pep Band. In addition to my studies and duties at WT, I work as a Saxophone Private Lesson Instructor for Canyon Independent School District teaching fundamentals of saxophone playing, standard saxophone repertoire, Texas All-State etudes, and more to students across various campuses and grade levels. CISD Fine Arts Director, Mr. Chris Hawkins, as well as directors Mr. Eric Rath, Mrs. Ginger Denney, and Mr. Heath Nall, and their respective teams have my utmost gratitude for allowing me to work with such exceptional young people.

Family: I am lucky to be part of an incredibly supportive and loving family. My mother, Lee Ann, is a highly regarded Licensed Professional Counselor who has helped countless individuals and families in the Panhandle, while my father, Don, serves with great esteem as the Director of Bands at West Texas A&M University. My grandmother, Cindy Woodall, is a retired veterinary technician and has always been a phenomenally kind and loving figure in my life, while my great uncle, Bob Splawn, is a retired educator and municipal court judge and has also shown me unwavering support, for which I am grateful. Additionally, I am the proud caretaker of a beloved, eleven-year-old Wheaten Terrier, Finn.

Instrument: My primary instrument is the saxophone. My strongest secondary instruments are clarinet, flute, and trumpet.

Ensembles: My primary ensemble at WT is the Symphonic Band, under the direction of Mr. Don Lefevre, in which I have held the principal saxophone chair since the Fall of 2018. Additionally, I have many fond memories from my undergraduate years playing in the Sound of West Texas Marching Band, under the direction of Dr. Russ Teweleit and later, Dr. BJ Brooks. As a graduate assistant, it has been my pleasure to assist Dr. Brooks in the preparation, instruction, and management of the WTAMU Marching Band over the past two years alongside my valued coworkers, Patrick Lucas, Gerry Lara, and Caleb Martin.

Furthermore, as a graduate assistant, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct and play clarinet in the WTAMU Concert Band, under the direction of Dr. Teweleit. Performing with the Concert Band has been a high point in my musical career, and I am eternally grateful to Dr. Teweleit for his guidance and support, as well as the fine musicians in the Concert Band for their willingness to work with me on several pieces of challenging literature.

As the Director of the WTAMU Pep Band, I’ve been responsible for managing, conducting, and rehearsing this ensemble, which holds great sentimental value to so many of our alumni and athletic patrons. During my time as director, I’ve collaborated with the School of Music and WTAMU Athletics officials for over 75 sporting and performance events, all of which have been an absolute blast! It’s been an honor to direct the Pep Band over the past two years, and I would like to thank my mentor and the Faculty Advisor of the WTAMU Pep Band, Dr. James Barger, for his support and the opportunity to be a part of this ensemble. Additionally, I would like to thank Corey Nance and Darian Del Cueto, both former directors of the WTAMU Pep Band, for helping to provide me with this position and for showing me the ropes. I would be remiss to not also thank our talented drummer, Tristan Mouw, who is truly the backbone of the ensemble, and all the members of the WTAMU Pep Band for so many spectacular performances!

I’ve had the pleasure of playing lead alto and bari saxophone in the WTAMU Jazz Band under the direction of Mr. Doug Storey over two years, and I also held the position of principal saxophonist in the WTAMU Symphony Orchestra from 2019 to 2020 under Dr. Mark Bartley. Playing in these two ensembles helped me to broaden my horizons as a musician, and I am grateful to Mr. Storey and Dr. Bartley for the memories and the performance opportunities.

During my time at WT, I’ve also enjoyed involvement in many chamber ensembles. I’ve enjoyed many excellent performances (including a TMEA performance and two performances at the National American Saxophone Alliance Convention) with the WTAMU Saxophone Ensemble under the direction of the brilliant Dr. Barger as both a saxophonist and conductor. Like the Symphonic Band, I’ve been involved in the Saxophone Ensemble since 2018. I am grateful to Dr. Barger and the members of the WTAMU Saxophone Choir for many heartfelt performances, and for allowing me to conduct this prestigious ensemble!

During my first year as a graduate student, Dr. Guliermo Manfredi generously provided me the opportunity to conduct the WT Brass Choir in two concerts and the Spring 2023 Graduation Ceremony. This was an amazing experience, and I have nothing but gratitude towards Dr. Manfredi and the students in the Brass Choir for allowing me to stand before them and make music together.

Finally, I’ve had many opportunities to play in and conduct many smaller ensembles during my time at WTAMU. Such ensembles include the Canyon-Amarillo Saxophone Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Barger and another valued and talented coworker, Katie Aschoff, the Phi Mu Alpha 3.14 Big Band under the direction of Darian Del Cueto and Dillon Martin, several woodwind chamber groups, and of course, numerous saxophone quintets, quartets, trios and more.

Student Groups: As a student at WTAMU, I’ve been honored to be a part of several invaluable organizations. As a brother of the Iota Pi Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, I learned the value of brotherhood in music and life. I want to thank Dr. Robert Krause and Dr. Ed Kahler for leading this chapter through many great successes. As a brother of the Alpha Psi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, I grew in my appreciation for service and surrounded myself with men and women who always strive for the highest. Finally, as an honorary sister of the Xi Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, I gained a greater perspective on the womanly experience in music and the values of service. Finally, it was my privilege to serve as President of the WTAMU Bands from 2021 to 2022. These experiences helped to shape me into the man I am today, and I am grateful to all my peers in these organizations.

Favorite Memories: Narrowing down my favorite memories from WT is no easy task. I’ve experienced many deeply impactful moments with amazing musicians, and even more importantly, incredible human beings. The memories I cherish most are from performing with the Symphonic Band at TMEA and CBDNA. Sharing our fully realized potential with the audiences at these conventions, and perhaps even more importantly, with each other, is difficult to describe, but I feel our recordings from these performances say more than I ever could, so I will allow them to speak for me.

Significant Lesson Learned: Much like discussing a favorite memory, narrowing down the knowledge I have gained at WT to one lesson is a nearly impossible task. The biggest lesson I have learned is what normal people like myself and my peers are capable of under the right conditions. I do not believe the music students at WT are more talented than those at other renowned schools for music in the United States, yet somehow, we can rise to meet a tremendously high standard of excellence. I wholeheartedly believe this is due to the superior teaching methods of people such as
Mr. Don Lefevre, Dr. Russ Teweleit, Dr. Susan Tariq, Dr. James Barger, Mr. Doug Storey, Dr. BJ Brooks, Professor Helen Blackburn, and many more faculty at WT. In short, excellent teaching truly does make a difference, because anyone can make music.

Advice for Current WT Students: My advice for current WT students is this: don’t wait to start thinking of yourself as a professional. Take ownership of your music, career, and life trajectory now. As someone who is a chronic planner and over-thinker, I know it is all too easy to wait for some ideal future scenario in which the stars align and you awaken to the realization that you are now the ideal student, teacher, musician, professional, or person you’ve always dreamed of being. I now realize that day will likely never come.

Instead, do now whatever that idealized, future version of yourself would be doing, despite your inevitable insufficiencies. Practice diligently, despite your negative internal monologue. Perform, even though you doubt your ability. Teach, even if you worry you’re not ready to share your knowledge.

Ideally, college is not just an avenue for wild self-expression, but the process of transitioning into a professional. This process involves the way you act, dress, write, play, and much more. So, enjoy your life, but begin conducting yourself like a professional now, and one day you’ll realize that even though you still may not be who and where you want to be, you’re no longer faking it.

Goals after WT: Following the completion of my Master’s in Instrumental Conducting, I will begin teaching in the public school system. My overall objective is to provide my students with an exceptional and deeply impactful music education that will foster the achievement of individual and team goals, the development of creative and artistic expression, a strong work ethic, and a lifelong appreciation of music. In other words, I want to give my students what was given to me by my teachers in public school and at West Texas A&M University.

Special Thanks: I would like to thank my family for their steadfast support and love throughout my time at West Texas A&M University. I owe everything to my family, and it pains me that I can never repay the debt I owe them. Additionally, I would like to thank Mr. Luis Hernandez, Mr. David Lough, Mr. Lesley Zorn, Mr. Eric Rath, and Mr. Mike Sheffield for fostering a love of music in me from an early age. The teaching of these men changed my life and is with me today. Thank you to Dr. James Barger for years of guidance, support, mentorship, and the highest quality of instruction. I must also thank Mrs. Ginger Denney and the staff of the 2022 Randall Band Cluster for the opportunity to student teach under such an excellent team. The takeaways from my clinical teaching were invaluable and will stick with me throughout my career. Finally, thank you to Dr. Gary Garner for being the ultimate mentor, both professionally and personally, and for establishing a legacy of excellence at West Texas A&M University that will outlast us all.

Finally, Thanks to all of you, our WT Band Alumni, who either attended or watched via livestream my Graduate Conducting Recital alongside my dear friend and colleague, Patrick Lucas on April 5th, at 7:30 PM in Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall. Thank you for the compliments and words of encouragement that mean so much. If you would like to view the video of the recital you can do so here.

For additional information on me, please feel free to check out my online portfolio at:


Here, you will find my philosophy of education, sample lesson plans, videos of my performances as a saxophonist and conductor, and a list of my references complete with testimonials.


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