“It was one hundred percent the Aggie Band,” says Todd Dock ’12. “That’s why I came to Texas A&M.”
Raised in the Piney Woods (Center, TX, to be exact), Todd grew up marching in military-style bands, the number one high school music tradition thereabouts. So, it’s hardly surprising to learn that, as far as Todd and his classmates were concerned, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band was IT—the ultimate military marching experience. Determined to be a part of IT, Todd started getting ready during his junior year.
“I had no idea what I would have to do,” he remembers. “Would I have to commission and go into the Army? Which, honestly, was something I thought about, just to be in the band. I also studied Texas A&M traditions like Silver Taps, which really hit a nerve. I had never heard of another university where students would gather once a month to let the families know that, as a university, we’re there for them.”
He was a man with a plan, said plan being to join the Aggie Band and teach music after graduation (something he has wanted to do since the seventh grade). And, as you might expect, given all his careful preparation, the plan worked out. Well, eventually. In the end.
The kink in his plan developed because Texas A&M doesn’t have a music education program. Todd figured, “No problem,” and enrolled as a music major, only to discover in short order that program didn’t really align with his goal to teach. He would have to get there by another route, and the route he chose was liberal arts.
“A liberal arts degree from Texas A&M means a lot,” he points out. “It will prepare you to do anything you want to.”
Especially when you supplement it with experience in your chosen field. For the past four years, Todd has served as a trumpet instructor for high schools that don’t have enough staff to help their band programs get going for the year. So in a very real sense, he’s already teaching. And he loves it.
Meanwhile, he’s learning “amazing things” under the direction of all five Texas A&M band directors—Dr. Tim Rhea, Travis Almany, Dr. Paul Sikes, Chris Hollar, and Col. Jay Brewer.
“All five of those directors are top notch at what they do,” he explains. “Our ensembles could compete against a lot of universities.” And how did Todd wind up under the direction of all five? “In addition to the Aggie Band, I was in the top two wind ensembles,” he says, “and played clarinet in the fourth ensemble for a semester. I played in the Texas A&M University Orchestra and Aggieland Orchestra, which is a big band combo made up of Aggie Bandsmen. I’m also in Hullabaloo (the spirit band for volleyball and basketball). That’s how I’ve studied under all of them.”
As for his experience marching with the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band …. Well, that was all he dreamed it would be. And more.
As you may know, the nationally known Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band isn’t into easy, but formations so precise and complex, it’s been said the group defies physics. (As in, two cadets arriving at the same place at the same time.) But did you know the band learns a new drill for every single home football game?
“That aspect of the band really excites me,” Todd admits. “In high school, you may work on one or two shows for the entire marching season. We do something different every week, and we only practice for about an hour a day.”
The week starts with new music that will be sprinkled in with beloved standards like the “Aggie War Hymn,” “Patton,” and “Noble Men of Kyle.” New music and drill are practiced separately at that point, the latter worked out to the bare cadence of the drums. Along about Wednesday (or, once in a great while, even Thursday), the three hundred plus cadets put it all together.
Then, on game day, they march onto Kyle Field to execute their trademark mind-boggling performance. Impressive, yes? Exciting, too.
“It’s one of the most exciting feelings I’ve ever felt,” says Todd. “I still remember the complete drill we did my freshman year, my first football game. And I remember my very last one. And up to that time, the excitement never died.”
This January, Todd Dock will start work on his certification for K through 12 music education. If he had opted for a music school over Texas A&M, he would already be teaching. So what does he think about the delay, now that he’s getting ready to graduate next August?
“I had the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself,” he muses. “I came because I wanted to be in the Aggie Band, but I stayed because of my buddies. That’s the great thing about Texas A&M—you come for yourself, then you learn it’s not just about you. It’s about the people around you. I believe to be a great teacher, you have to know that. You have to be a good leader, so the leadership skills I’m learning here will make me a better band director. I’ll be a better teacher now than I would have been, if I hadn’t come here.”
For more information on the Texas A&M University Band prorgram and the opportunities available, please visit http://tamubands.tamu.edu/. The band program includes Choral Activities: the Singing Cadets (http://singingcadets.tamu.edu/), the Century Singers (http://centurysingers.tamu.edu/), and the Women's Chorus (http://wchorus.tamu.edu/).
Kathy DiSanto, Communications Specialist
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Chris Weachock, '12