Bradwell Institute band program students were able to meet their newly hired band director, Alan Weathers, during a meet-and-greet held Thursday inside the Tiger band room.
Bradwell Principal Scott Carrier said he was pleased to see a full room of students and parents ready to continue the band program, which he called the shining star of the school.
“Of course, our band director did an outstanding job of making this a strong quality program … and that is something that we don’t want to have end,” Carrier said. “Having Mr. (Jeremy) Fermin leave was something that caught us off guard a little bit … but the one thing that I promised you is that we were going to put on a very strong search, and we would find somebody that would continue this program the way that we wanted it to continue. I know that process didn’t happen quick enough for some of you … and the reason was because we didn’t just go out an hire somebody. … We were going to wait until we found the right person that we wanted.”
Fermin resigned as the BI band director after accepting a job at Veterans High School, a newly built school near Warner Robins. In the short four years Fermin spent at BI, the program grew in numbers, gained national recognition and became deeply rooted within the community.
Carrier said the school went through two series of interviews with candidates before meeting and hiring Weathers.
Weathers was the band director at New Hampstead in Chatham County for two years.
“When I got there, we had no band program whatsoever,” he said, adding that he will build on the work left behind by Fermin. “No real feeder programs. We didn’t have a class set up … nothing. … It was completely 100 percent new. Within two years, we were able to field our first competitive marching band there. We got best in Class A at every competition that we had attended, beating out bigger schools with longer-established programs.”
The Southeast Bulloch and Georgia Southern alumnus has a degree in music education, with his primary instrument being percussion. He was a member of the GSU Southern Pride Marching Band and the Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps in Florida in 2009.
Weathers addressed the concerns some parents had regarding possible changes to the Tiger band program.
“Guys, I am really interested in preserving all the work and things that you guys have done,” Weathers said. “You guys have traditions that I am going to be incredibly faithful to, and that I am going to sustain and maintain to the best of my ability.”
He said he plans to stay in touch with Fermin during his first few months on the job.
“That communication is going to keep me in the loop with a lot of intimate knowledge,” he said, adding that it also helps that assistant band director Jason Long is staying involved in the program and the students.
Long is the band director at Lewis Frasier Middle School.
“We are fortunate that we have a new director but Mr. Jason Long is going to be staying with the program, so we are also going to have that continuity that wanted to have with it as well,” Carrier added.
Weathers hinted at the theme of the show he plans to develop and summed it up in one word — fire.
“I love entertaining show themes,” he said, adding that his style is similar to Fermin’s.
He said he has watched many of the BI marching band shows on YouTube.
“I love show themes that are educationally challenging,” Weather said. “I love show themes that are going to push the students and the kids to achieve musical and visual things on the field and also engage the audience. I like shows that are accessible to everyone, whether you have a musical background or not.”
Weathers then turned his attention to his students and announced several upcoming events of which they should take note.
He announced the dates for band camp and said the students will train musically and physically.
“I do physical training, meaning that when you get here at 9 o’clock in the morning, we will run together,” he said. “My expectation is that you will be able to complete a six-minute half-mile. … And I believe in push-ups. … And I also believe that 50 percent of how you sound is how you look, so we are going to be spending a whole lot of time on basics during the first part of camp … really building the modified block stance technique that I use from the ground up.”
Afterward, Weathers opened the floor and spent several minutes talking to parents and students independently.