A Spotlight on George Little

Marina McLerran

Editor, McLerran Journal

Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX

 

I have had the good fortune to work in the same region as Mr. Little and to visit with him at the many band contests and events. He is kind, easy to talk to, and methodical in his work.

 

George Little, originally from Henderson, TX, is currently the Director of Bands at Lufkin ISD in Texas. Prior to that position, he served as the Director of Bands for New Diana High School and as the Head Middle School Band Director at Henderson Middle School. Mr. Little serves the musical community in several ways; as the Sergeant-at-Arms on the Board of Directors for the Texas Bandmasters Association, a member of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), Texas Music Adjudicators Association (TMAA), member of Association of Texas Small School Bands (ATSSB), and member of the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity. He is currently the Immediate Past President of the National Association of Military Marching Bands (NAMMB) and has also presented clinics at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Convention (Chicago, IL), the TMEA annual convention, and the TBA annual convention.

Mr. Little graduated with a degree in music education from the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music (Nacogdoches, Texas) in 2002. He had decided to pursue a career in music during his time in the Overton High School band. As a two-time qualifier for the ATSSB All State Band, Mr. Little had the opportunity to participate in the TMEA annual convention in San Antonio and was “inspired by the sounds in the” rehearsals. Having “always had a love for playing and great music,” Mr. Little decided then that perhaps a career in the fine arts would be worthwhile.

Over the course of his sixteen years as a music educator, Mr. Little’s ensembles have consistently earned superior rating at the annual UIL Concert and Sight-reading Contest, the UIL Marching contest, and at the NAMMB Marching Contest. During his eight years with the New Diana High School Band, the ensemble was named the TMEA 3A Honor Band* (2016), was a finalist for the title in both 2012 and 2014, placed at the finals of the 2013 UIL State Marching Contest, and frequently won first or second place at the NAMMB Marching contest. The New Diana Band was also a finalist for the OPS State Contest (similar to Honor Band) in 2012, 2014, and 2015 and won first place at the contest in both 2010 and 2016. These many honors reflect on the immense work ethic and attention to detail of both Mr. Little and his students.

*This is an extremely high honor. All participating bands submit recordings that will be judged blindly by a panel at the region, area, and state levels. The 1st place band, or “Honor Band,” is given the opportunity to perform a feature concert at the following year’s TMEA convention.

About his teaching philosophy, Mr. Little shared that “perfection is the goal” (although he conceded that one can never be truly perfect), with ensemble sound being the number one priority. Mr. Little emphasized that “students must be hyper-focused” on this goal, at all levels, in order to produce high quality music. When providing musical instruction in a highly competitive environment, Mr. Little advises that educators “try not to leave anyone behind, but aim toward the upper middle” (as far as skill level goes) in the full-band setting and “make time to work with the individuals who need it.” Student motivation is also a critical ingredient to the long-term success of the band. “In a perfect world,” he shared, “all students would want to be at the top. However, in our imperfect world, we have to push students beyond their current limits while still making goals achievable.”

To young educators, Mr. Little advises finding a mentor and regularly entering situations that force one to grow, saying, “it’s ok to do things that scare you sometimes.” He encourages directors to continue to practice their own instruments and emphasized the importance of modeling quality tone, especially at the middle school level and in private lessons. When selecting music, he advises playing “music that fits your band; meet the better sections where they are without forgetting to help weaker sections.” Mr. Little also believes it is important, “in music and in life,” to find ways to positively affect one’s situation and encourages peaceful activism. Finally, he reminds us that, besides teaching music, another major responsibility of education is “getting students involved and training good citizens.”    

Currently, Mr. Little lives in Lufkin, TX with his wife, Karen, and three children. In the future, he plans to continue to educate and aim high, saying, “if you’re going to do something, do it as well as it can be done.” 

Follow Mr. Little and the Lufkin High School Band  

 

Artist and Recording Suggestions from Mr. Little

The New York Philharmonic Orchestra 

Yo Yo Ma 

“1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky)/Cappriccio Italian/March Slave” Chicago Symphony, Conducted by Daniel Barenboim  Purchase Here 

 

Sources

Interview on February 15, 2018.

National Association of Military Marching Bands (NAMMB). “Past President.” 2017.

          <http://www.nammb.org/past-president-little.html>

Texas Bandmasters Association. <http://www.texasbandmasters.org/about/board.php>