Siegrist in Spotlight: Band director’s love of music leads her to Kerr

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Band students surprised Ashley Siegrist (center) with a baby shower. Siegrist’s baby was born on Thanksgiving.

Nathan Tadesse

From helping students master the fundamentals of band on their instruments, to participating in various band events such as parades and competitions, band director Ashley Siegrist shows a genuine commitment to Kerr.

Growing up in Green Bay, a small town in Wisconsin, Siegrist learned to play the trumpet in the band and pursued it throughout middle and high school. Later, she realized that music was her true passion, and that directing young musicians was the path for her.

“After I got into college, I began pursuing and taking music classes, as it became more of an identity to me” said Siegrist. “Later, my husband [Kyle Siegrist] and I had just graduated and he received an acceptance to Rice University to complete his masters in Trombone studies. So we moved from a town in the Midwest all the way down to Houston, Texas,in June 2011.”

Fresh out of college, Siegrist was happy to begin her career teaching band. However there was a considerable amount of challenges in the process of getting to Kerr.

“I ended up applying to 60 different schools in the one-hour vicinity of where I lived,” Siegrist said. “Since it was in the middle of the summer, many people did not respond quickly or at all. Because of the long wait, I got a job a Starbucks and after my first shift I applied to one final school: Kerr High School. It was a hassle, but it was the first time anybody responded to me. They set up an interview and I took it, hoping it went well. The next morning, I got a call and they told me I got the job.”

Siegrist faced many difficulties as the new band director.

“Beginning my first year, I had no idea about the band’s UIL competitions, Band Days, and concerts.” she explained. “It was extremely hard and I survived. And as the year progressed, I tried my best fix all my mistakes and get better as a band director.”

As her teaching years continued, she began to feel much more of a passion toward building up the band by participating in new things.

“Over the next two years, I began to find my identity as a band teacher and things were finally beginning to feel normal. But I did want to change the band towards getting better. I began doing things like my first musical, ‘Avenue Q’, or for the first time teaching and marching in the Alief parade with other schools. It was my first time teaching kids how to march and it took several practices.

“Every year, I try to add to the Kerr curriculum and change the way things work in the band. One year we decided to do a full out marching show with a drill, to play during the homecoming games.”

Siegrist loves her job and appreciates the positives that it brings, despite the challenges. She likes have to teach new things and helps students grow each and every year.
“I’m very lucky that my job as a band director, aside from all things that change every year, means that I don’t have to teach the same ‘cookie cutter’ curriculum.” said Siegrist.

“I don’t have to teach the same exact thing to the students in the fall semester again in the spring semester. I get the chance to stay with the same kids, from the time that they were freshmen, all the way until they’re seniors. And I watch them mature and transform every year. For me, everything changes; my curriculum never stays the same. We have to keep moving forward, because the change really helps the band. Balancing between teaching students with a lot experience and teaching freshmen at the same time is a challenge, but it’s great to have something different every year.”

Siegrist has really appreciated the changes in many aspects that have happened throughout her years of working at Kerr.

“Throughout these 6 years that I’ve been here, the journey here at Kerr has been really fun. We’ve had faculty changes” said Siegrist. “I’ve gotten to work with [former Choir director] Mrs. (Patti) Drachenberg and with the Orchestra. I got to work with [Theater teacher] Ms. [Julie] Ryan. Now I get to work with [Men’s Choir Director] Mr. [Freddy] Bonilla, [Theater Teacher] Mr. [James] Watkins, and [Assistant Choir Director] Ms. [Vanessa] Winslow; and all those changes happened in the course of the 6 years working here.

“I’ve gotten [from] the point of not knowing anybody, to knowing most of the staff pretty well. And I’ve actually had some pretty good work friends as a teacher. This first couple of years, I was just that lady down in the band cave. Nobody quite knew if I was the orchestra director or the band director, or the difference between the two. People, now when they see me, they think of me and my program with the band, purple shirts, and the drums. I used to be by myself but now I have a family of Kerr staff that I’m happy to have.”

Siegrist said through her years involved with music, perspective has truly changed.

“Music started off as a selfish thing for me, but as I grew passion for music, I’ve seen the great work it can do for people,” said Siegrist.“I see that music can really help people. That’s the reason why I come to school every day.”