Wil­helm Brings 37 Years Of Ex­pe­ri­ence To Band

McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Dick­er­son

Joe Wil­helm, McDon­ald County High School’s new band di­rec­tor, brings 37 years of ex­pe­ri­ence to the table.

Wil­helm grew up in Sa­pulpa, Okla., where he started band in the fifth grade, play­ing trom­bone. He said he had great men­tors in high school and ju­nior high. His high school band di­rec­tor was Ge­orge Bright, and he went with him to a Univer­sity of Arkansas band camp his ju­nior year. He loved it so much he de­cided to go to col­lege there.

At the Univer­sity of Arkansas, he played in the Ra­zor­back march­ing band, the Hog Wild pep band, the jazz en­sem­ble, brass choir and orches­tra. When he grad­u­ated, his col­lege band di­rec­tor called him and said Grove, Okla., was look­ing for a band di­rec­tor. He got the job and taught there for

37 years. He re­tired from the state of Ok­la­homa.

Wil­helm met his wife Patsy in col­lege. She is a first-grade teacher at Grove School Dis­trict. The cou­ple lives in

Grove and has three adult sons, Joseph, Jor­dan and Josh. All three of their sons grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Arkansas with mu­sic de­grees, but Joseph is the only one who teaches. He was Wil­helm’s as­sis­tant at Grove and took over the pro­gram there when his fa­ther left.

When Wil­hem re­tired, he was con­tacted to see if he would be in­ter­ested in com­ing to McDon­ald County.

“And here I am,” he said. He was not quite ready to quit teach­ing when he re­tired.

“I felt like all my goals were com­pleted at Grove. I wasn’t quite ready to hang up the ba­ton, but I had been there long enough,” he said.

Ray Nimmo, a for­mer as­sis­tant of Wil­helm’s from sev­eral years ago, also came out of re­tire­ment to work with him at McDon­ald County as his as­sis­tant.

Shortly after the band’s first per­for­mance at the first foot­ball game of the sea­son, Wil­helm said he was very pleased. This year’s show is a Span­ish show called Rit­mos De Pas­sion. The three pieces are called Los Cuer­vos, Ha­vana Ex­press and El Gato Triste.

“The kids have been very re­cep­tive and they work re­ally hard,” he said.

Wil­helm goes each day to work with a dif­fer­ent mid­dle school band. He said he is try­ing to put a face on the high school band pro­gram.

Asked why he en­joys teach­ing, he said, “Pas­sion of mu­sic, be­ing with the kids. It keeps you young.”

He works at the Univer­sity of Arkansas Sum­mer Mu­sic Camp and hopes to of­fer some McDon­ald County stu­dents the chance to go, he said. He was on staff at the Ok­la­homa Am­bas­sadors Euro­pean Tour, a group of high school mu­si­cians that tours seven coun­tries and per­forms in five.

“It’s re­ally neat to see stu­dents travel to places they’ve only read or dreamed about,” he said.

He added he has seen that mu­sic is the in­ter­na­tional lan­guage.

The high school march­ing band will play at all home foot­ball games, Wil­helm said. There will be a Christ­mas con­cert at 6 p.m., Dec. 4, at the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter that will fea­ture the ju­nior high choir and ju­nior high band, high school band and high school jazz band, he said.


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