LEADER OF THE BAND: Pettitt takes over helm as Pride of the Tribe director


Rachel Froese

All about sound– Dr. Russell Pettitt works on tuning during first period band on Jan. 17. Pettitt was hired to take over after Daniel and Christy Barber resigned.

 From the time he played the euphonium in high school, new band Director Russell Pettitt knew he wanted to become a band director.

  “I played the euphonium, it’s the same thing as a baritone in band in both middle school and high school,” Pettitt said. “I liked it a lot, and I liked my high school band director. I really looked up to him. By the time I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I had the feeling that I might want to become a band director.”

  Pettitt went on to pursue his dream in college.

   “I had really great professors,” Pettitt said. “Both my college band director and the music teachers I had in college were outstanding. I liked watching them do what they did. They expected a lot of me, and that resonated with me as well. We were working to accomplish something every day.”

  Pettitt’s high expectation mind-set is reflected in his teaching.

  “His teaching style is very nice,” senior saxophonist Gabriella Moreno said. “He is very efficient and well-coordinated with his time. We have gone through three songs in the span of eight days.”

  Even though Pettitt is starting in the middle of the school year, he has big plans for the band’s spring semester. 

  “I am excited for all Seminole band students to find individual success,” Pettitt said. “I want them to find things in music that they enjoy doing and feel good about performing. This is going to include group effort in concert and sight reading. “

  Pettitt said he wants the musicians to be prepared for concert and sight reading in April, which he said he felt good about. He also wants students involved in solo and ensemble both at the high school and junior high.

  The three weeks  Pettitt has been at SHS  has not stopped him from having a positive impact on band members.  

  “Since Dr. Pettitt has been here, he has shown that he wants what is best for us,” junior percussionist Caden Hice said. “He is doing everything he can to make us the best band we can be.”

  Attitude has made a difference for the musicians.

  “Dr. Pettitt’s attitude toward the band has motivated me to not be so lazy any more,” Moreno said. “He keeps me accountable and pushes me, and all the band kids, to do better and be the best we can be.”

  Pettitt joins Assistant Director Flor Leyva and new Assistant Director Ashlyn Vessel as they rework and rebuild the program.

  “Dr. Pettitt will help me by letting me ask him questions and giving honest feedback,” Hice said. “I can tell he is doing everything he can to get me to the best of my abilities.” 

  As Pettitt starts his tenure in Seminole, he is encouraged by the caliber of students in his program.

  “There are great people here,” Pettitt said. “Clearly our students are very smart and talented. They have proven in the past that when given a good structure, guidance and external motivation, they can achieve a lot at a very high level.”