A&M International's Band Draws Talent from Various Local Schools, Community

Taking notes on a university campus is standard, but students at Texas A&M International University can now make notes as part of the University's new band.

The Texas A&M International University Band, as the newly-formed band is known, serves as a performance group for people of varied musical backgrounds. While many members are former All State Band members, others play their favorite instruments just to revel in the joy of producing music.

Dr. Ray Keck, chair of the English, Spanish and Fine Arts department, said that the idea of forming a band came after Elmo Lopez Sr., a veteran musician and former band director with Laredo Independent School District, offered to help put the band together.

"We have seven high schools in Laredo and we have excellent players in those schools' bands. But as soon as they graduate, they don't have anywhere to play. The Texas A&M International University Band gives them an opportunity to continue playing," Keck said.

According to Lopez, who is the director of the 40-member group, the band has not only attracted members who are part of the A&M International community but also high school students and several band directors for LISD and United Independent School District.

"Everybody is welcome to join the band. There is room for everybody. Anyone from the community can come and play," Lopez said.

The most important role that the band plays is that of providing entertainment and joy to members and the audience, Keck said.

"Music is a universal language and it sees no borders," Keck said.

Peter Astudillo, a band member, said the band offered a perfect chance to practice the base trombone, his favorite instrument.

Astudillo, the nephew of Tejano artist Pete Astudillo, said that practicing his instrument is especially important to him since he aspires to become a band director some day.

"It's a lot of fun. It helps you build up your skills," said Astudillo, referring to the Texas A&M International University Band.

Like Astudillo, Noemi Dominguez, another band member and freshman accounting major at the University, said that the band gives her an opportunity to continue playing the flute, an instrument she has been playing for the past six years.

Dominguez said she has advice for those considering joining the University's band.

"If they really like it, they should keep on playing. Why should you waste the four years that you spent practicing in high school? Don't let it go to waste," Dominguez said.

Meanwhile, Keck said he hopes that the University band would also play the role of a city band in the future. He added that from the band, the university also plans to form jazz and mariachi groups.

Registration for the Spring semester at A&M International is Jan. 14-15 from 1-7 p.m. daily. Classes begin on Jan. 20.

For more information, please contact the English, Spanish, and Fine Arts department at 326-2606. University office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu