Lutcher musicians have new leader

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2000

DANIEL TYLER GOODEN / L’Observateur / July 26, 2000

LUTCHER – Though new to the teaching profession, Ken Williamson has stepped up and taken the reins as the new director of the music department at Lutcher High School.

Williamson, formerly a professional musician and student at University of New Orleans, has received a bachelor of arts in vocal music, trained in opera as a bass baritone and received a master’s degree in the bass trombone. He has been playing music for 18 years.Though still playing professionally in eight to 10 community concert bands, including the Tulane Symphony, Williamson was driven to teach music to others. After teaching private lessons for 12 years he decided toteach on a larger scale.

“I have to do it because no one else has to do it,” said Williamson. Hisbelief is that every kid, regardless of age, has the right to a music education. Williamson will be teaching orchestra, jazz band, marchingband and other the music classes and is determined to help any student find their niche.

“I’m an open book they can consult,” he added.

His focus is to take the students on a musical journey, he said. Anythingthey do in music will compliment their other classes and visa-versa, he explained.

One of Williamson’s first projects was the organization of a marching band camp this month. From July 17-28 Williamson brought students in tobegin organizing the marching band for the school. Working off an oldroster, he sent letters to students to see who he could attract for the summer camp, and between 15 and 20 took the chance to attend.

“This was a shot in the dark. They came out not knowing what to think ofme,” said Williamson, proud of their determination. He said he wanted toget a group together so they could get a head start on moving efficiently on the field. It won’t be long until they’ll be out for football games,parades and such, Williamson said.

They started working right off the bat, and in a week they had learned 22 drill movements. By the second week they had their instruments and werereadjusting to the weight.

“We do these drill sometimes flawlessly, and we’ll keep working on them so when our guest comes back we’ll do them always flawlessly,” said Williamson, both as a promise and an order.

In the last two weeks students have gotten to know Williamson well.

Though he barks out orders and excepts ridged military style discipline, the common trait in an efficient marching band leader, the kids have bonded with him. The new director wanders through his ranks ofinstrumentalists correcting stances, making corrections, giving orders and cracking jokes. With a few out of line, he points it out. No need toexplain why, just correct it for next time, he says.

Allen Ballen, an 11th-grader, marches with his quad drum set in its upright position.

“Put the set down. They’re pretty and people like to see them. Besides, youlook bad playing them,” Williamson said, instructing Ballen with a vote of confidence.

Williamson is looking forward to his time at Lutcher, and the school board is giving him full support.

“Whatever you want to do, please do it,” Williamson relayed. “I’m notlooking to go anywhere. We’re already having a good time,” he added.Williamson has been living in LaPlace for the last four years with his wife, Angela. “I don’t have any kids. What you see before you are my kids,”Williamson said of his students.

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