Band director leads students to success


Jose Ochea and his band students recently won Sweepstakes.

By Sydney Pierce

He leads the junior high band, helps students with just about anything they may need, and he directed this year’s Sweepstakes-winning LCM Symphonic Band. Assistant band director Jose Ochoa is constantly working, yet still finds a way to make things fun.

Ochoa has been teaching for six years and is currently wrapping up his fifth year at LCM.

“We have a great band staff at LCM that works hard together to make sure that we are meeting the needs of all the students,” Ochoa said.

Just recently, Ochoa directed the Symphonic band at the Concert and Sight-Reading contest at Silsbee High School, where they earned the highest ranking possible.

“It is very rewarding,” Ochoa said. “I enjoy the students and I also like the level of music I can play with them. Since I teach junior high students, it is refreshing to work with a group with a higher maturity level. Plus, I feel like this group is very much a learning ensemble in which I am trying to improve their skills so they can move up to the Wind Ensemble afterwards.”

The band rehearsed each day in class and only four times after school to wrap everything together. The students also practiced outside of rehearsals to achieve their goal of Sweepstakes.

“While trophies are nice, the best feeling is seeing the face of each student light up as they learn that their hard work and dedication has been rewarded,” Ochoa said. “I feel like it really teaches them a lesson in work ethic and shows them that it is all worth it in the end.”

Watching [students] improve and succeed is very rewarding.”

— Ochoa

As Ochoa also directs the junior high band, it enables him to grow closer relationships with the students and lets him have the opportunity to teach them for a longer period of time.

“I enjoy being able to start beginners and see them grow from knowing nothing about music or their instrument, to success at a very high level,” Ochoa said. “Watching them improve and succeed is very rewarding.”

According to Ochoa, the job of handling both bands can be very stressful and chaotic, but he knows how to make the most out of every situation. A typical day for this band director includes opening up the junior high band hall early in the morning to allow students to come in to practice and/or finish homework. Once the school day starts, he drives to the high school for the first two periods and then goes back to the junior high to teach several more classes. He often then returns to the high school for after-school lessons.

Our students…keep me going when it gets tough.”

— Ochoa

“It is easier to handle when I walk into each band hall every morning and I am greeted by many students that want to be there,” Ochoa said. “I truly enjoy working with all of our students and they are what keep me going when it gets tough.”

Something unique about this particular job is that most teachers teach students for just a year, and in that year they see lots of growth in each student. Ochoa, on the other hand, is able to start a student in sixth grade and teach them for the next seven years.

“Teaching a student for so long is what helps us build a special relationship with each student,” Ochoa said. “I don’t have to start over each year, I get to continue building on the previous year. Most teachers do what they do because they enjoy seeing students learn and grow as a person. I am lucky enough to get to see it over a longer period of time and on a larger scale.”

Ochoa has made huge impacts on many of the students that have joined band. He has helped the LCMCISD band program tremendously and will continue to leave a life-long impact on his students.

“My favorite thing about being involved with the LCM band is all of the relationships we form throughout the years with students,” Ochoa said. “I enjoy being able to teach students for multiple years and see them grow and succeed.”