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BURNET — Being the new face in town sometimes can be difficult, especially when your charged with leading the largest spirit organization in the community.

Jason Jones stepped into that situation when he joined the Burnet High School staff in July as the new band director.

It could have been rough, but it wasn’t.

“Anytime you have a director change there’s always that transition period and the problems that could come along with it,” Jones said. “There’s really been nothing like that here. And that goes back to the kids and the staff who were already here.”

Though he’s been in contact with band staff since the district hired him in April, Jones didn’t have much time from when he officially began work in July until the first day of practice (also in July) and the first official band performance Aug. 29.

Burnet High School senior baritone player Holden Mullins rehearses along with the rest of the band for the upcoming football and marching season.
Burnet High School senior baritone player Holden Mullins rehearses along with the rest of the band for the upcoming football and marching season.

“Yeah, so there wasn’t much time for anything but getting to work,” he said.

He also realized he was taking over an esteemed program that has built a great reputation across the state.

Fortunately, Jones found a strong corps of leaders in the students.

“We really have a great group of student-leaders,” he said.

While the mission of a high school band is to improve musicianship and give students a chance to perform, Jones said it also serves an auxiliary role.

“It really helps build that leadership skill in the students,” Jones said. “And that’s something they can take with them after band and into the rest of their lives.”

Right now, however, the Bulldog Band is focused on preparing for the upcoming football game halftime shows as well as marching contests. Jones said the band is working on a routine called “Wired,” which brings a little electronic sound into the program. The band also has integrated a bit of technology into the show by adding a visual concept as well.

The Bulldog Band is more than musical entertainment. The group, along with the cheerleaders, the Highlandettes and the flag team, is part of the Esprit de Corps, the largest spirit organization in Burnet.

Jones understands what the band and Esprit de Corps means, not just to the school but also to the community.

“This is one of the most prestigious bands and groups in the state,” he said. “And the community knows it. So the band is very important to Burnet and the community. Wherever I go, I meet somebody who was in the band, has a student in the band or remembers the band from when they were in high school. The community loves the band, and it means a lot to them.”

Though the band performs during football halftimes, it’s also preparing for the University Interscholastic League marching contests. Since it’s an even-numbered year, the Burnet band has the opportunity to advance to state level competition. Each year, the UIL alternates which divisions can advance to area and state contests. In 2012, the Burnet High School band finished third in state.

Jones and the students know returning to state will be difficult, but it’s something they can accomplish. Still, Jones pointed out, advancing to state lies in the hands of a panel of judges, making it a subjective competition.

Burnet band members, however, controls one thing when it comes to performances and contests: their efforts.

And that is where Jones has set high expectations.

“I want to be successful to the highest level possible,” he said. “I know two years ago the kids finished third in state. The juniors and seniors, they want to get back there this year. But judges are subjective, and judging can change for day to day and contest to contest.

“I want the kids to do the very best they can, and if they do that, no matter what the judges say, then they have been successful,” Jones said.

This doesn’t mean Jones is a softie when it comes to rehearsals and performances.

“I’m going to push them as hard as I can,” he said. “It’s about teaching kids how to work hard and do their absolute best – all the time.”