Editor, McLerran Journal
Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX
Creston Herron is an educator, clinician, and talented violinist. He is currently the Director of Orchestras at Klein High School in Klein, TX. His groups have enjoyed the success of consistent UIL Sweepstakes awards, first division ratings and “best in class” awards at festivals. Under his direction, the Klein chamber orchestra and symphony orchestra have consistently placed in the finals of the prestigious Texas Music Educators Association Honor Orchestra Competition.
Mr. Herron is a graduate of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, where he received his bachelor’s degree and Rice University, Shepherd School of Music in Houston, TX, where he received his master’s degree on scholarship as a Provost Fellow and a Brown Scholar. During the summer seasons, he serves on the AFA Summer Conservatory faculty as a faculty artist.
As a violinist, he has performed with various orchestras, and organizations around the world. His orchestral experience includes performances with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, CCM Spoleto festival in Italy, Galveston Symphony, concertmaster of the Eutiner Festspiele Opera in Eutin, Germany, and Houston Latin Philharmonic.
As a conductor, he has participated in master classes with Clif Evans, Larry Livingston, Larry Rachleff and Don Schleicher. He is a proud member of the Texas Music Educators Association.
In addition to teaching and performing, Creston is an active clinician and adjudicator, giving numerous workshops and clinics with many orchestras in the greater Houston area, as well as conducting region orchestras, judging UIL competitions and solo and ensembles contests.
Before beginning his teaching career in the public-school system, Mr. Herron served on the faculty of the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program at Rice University and was the Orchestra Director at YES Prep West. In 2015, Herron had the opportunity to hear a recording from a Klein ISD junior high orchestra. He exclaimed that “it was the best junior high orchestra that [he] had heard in [his] life!” and knew immediately that he needed to be there. Mr. Herron interviewed for an assistant director opening in Klein ISD with the director named Dawn Multop, who would become his wife only a few years later. About her, Herron said, “She is one of the best junior high directors out there. She pushes her kids to be better and she pushes me to be better.” The happy couple work together to align the musical instruction between the junior high and high school as much as possible. They are expecting a beautiful baby girl in the fall of 2017.
Being named an “Honor” ensemble by TMEA means that a recording of your ensemble, when blindly judged against other programs, was determined the best; it is one of the highest honors that a public-school music educator (and their students) can earn. It is the equivalent of winning a state championship. Mr. Herron briefly shared his teaching philosophy that ultimately led to this award. Directors, he stated, must place an “emphasis on three critical factors in order to succeed; culture, ownership, and excellence.”
Develop a Culture of Teamwork
Readers might be surprised to learn that there are no chair tests for the Klein High School Honor Orchestra. Mr. Herron instead rotates the players on the various parts (1st/2nd/3rd) in order to spread out the best musicians and encourage teamwork. Frequently he will have a “section chair test” where the instrument families as a whole are ranked; this method encourages the students to help one another learn their parts instead of competing with each other. He also has each member of the orchestra lead a sectional rehearsal. This helps students develop respect for the members of their section.
Herron also believes that students should be provided with a “sense of purpose or identity” when they enter the orchestra room. For this reason, no freshmen are allowed in Mr. Herron’s top ensemble since they have not yet had time to develop respect for the Honor ensemble; “Everyone has to do their time, regardless of raw talent.” To encourage a family atmosphere, Herron organizes regular social events like his “orchestra retreat” where students spend a portion of the time rehearsing and the remainder of the event socializing.
Promote a Sense of Ownership
Mr. Herron believes that students should have partial ownership of the orchestra; “It can’t be just the director; it has to be a team effort.” The Klein High School Honor Orchestra has a student-elected president that assists with the organizing of the ensemble’s various socials and bi-annual community service endeavors. Recently, the ensemble participated in the “Adopt a Family” initiative to bring low income families gifts and food at Christmas time. Herron explained that these additional projects provide the students with leadership opportunities and encourage humility. Charitable efforts also strengthen the orchestra’s position in the community. Herron advises that educators “are only as good as the support [they] have.”
Foster a Presence of Excellence
Mr. Herron believes that, for students to achieve, they have to want to get involved and must believe that they are capable of the task; “when they're inspired, they work.” Herron makes a regular effort to “explore world-class music” with his students and takes them on field trips to Rice University Orchestra concerts as often as possible. He particularly enjoys pointing out that the members of the university ensembles are only a few years older than the students in the Klein High School Orchestra; therefore, that level of musicianship is attainable. He strongly believes that it is imperative that students “see and hear what the standard of excellence is” that they should be aiming for. About the future, Mr. Herron stated that he wishes to gain national recognition for his ensemble and continue to give back to the Klein community.
Several Klein High School students were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Visit kisd.us/kleinspirit for updates and more information about relief programs.
Book suggestions from Mr. Herron:
“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” Patrick Lencioni
“The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown. ” Daniel Coyle