Enriching the human spirit through music

Autumn Owens aowens@empiretribune.com Twitter @aowensETnews
Henderson Junior High head band director, Christopher Conway, pictured with his students.

Christopher Conway is the band director at Henderson Junior High and has made it his mission to prepare students for their high school band careers while making it fun and teaching them the importance of music.

Though this is Conway’s third year at Stephenville ISD, he has 20 years under his belt as a band director at a variety of schools and has bachelors and masters degrees from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

“When I was a senior in high school I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to do. I thought, ‘I like band, band is fun. Maybe I can do something with that,’ and so that’s what I did,” he said. “So at school I played in all kinds of ensembles and I'm still enjoying it today. It never really occurred to me to do anything else.”

When Conway isn’t spending time with his students, he’s making trips to Bossier City, Louisiana to visit his wife.

“My wife is in the Air Force and we’re happy this year because she was stationed in Virginia, then was in (Washington) D.C. and she’s now in Bossier City, Louisiana, so it’s a little bit closer and I can make that drive a lot easier,” he said.

When Conway was in school they were taught how to play all instruments, so his diversity allows him to help his students no matter what they play.

“I’m a trombone player, that’s my main instrument. I can play a little baritone and I’m a really good junior high snare drum player,” he said with a laugh. “You had to learn how to play everything. The one thing I just can’t do is the flute. I just can’t and I don’t know why. So here I usually do all the low brass, but I can jump in there on anything if I need to.”

Something that has always stuck with Conway is his college fraternity’s mission.

“One of our purposes was to instill in all people music’s important role in the enrichment of the human spirit and that’s something that has always stuck with me,” he said. “Music is important, you can do really good things and make really good music with kids in junior high. And if we can instill that in them, then that can carry on for a long time.”

So Conway thinks about that mission while he teaches his students and gets them ready for their future.

“My main focus at the junior high is to get them ready for high school and to make that an easy transition,” he said. “I try to do a lot of the things that the high school does as far as warmups and things to prepare. You can push them and do things that might be a little out of their reach, but still have a good time doing it because band is suppose to be fun.”

The Henderson Junior High band is also gearing up for pep rallies, concerts and competitions.

“We have a Christmas concert, a spring concert - those are our main ones - but then we have UIL performance in the spring and a pre-UIL performance before that,” Conway said. “Then we usually perform at the TSU Invitational Festival and have a spring trip that we always go on to perform. This year it’s going to be at the Meyerson (Symphony Center) in downtown Dallas.”

Playing at the Meyerson is something that Conway is looking forward to this year.

“That’s a really neat place for them to play. We did that two years ago and it’s just one of those places where the kids walk in and are in awe of the stage,” he said. “It’s a really cool experience for the kids and I like seeing their faces when they go into a place they’ve never seen before, never got to experience and they’re just smiling the whole time.”