Bridge City ISD school board recently named Russell Tipton as the new band director and he’s bringing a two-person team expected to pack a one-two punch in reigniting the music program.

“They are phenomenal, energetic, enthusiastic and experienced in one group,” said Superintendent Jamey Harrison.

Tipton is currently the band director at C.O Wilson Middle School in Nederland. He will join Tami Goss, current middle school head band director at Buna, and Brenda Legrande, head director at Lumberton Middle School.

Legrande will step in as a well-seasoned mentor to the team.

“It’s going to be a true teaching environment,” Tipton said. “Brenda will be the mentor slash talking head since she has been doing this for years.”

The district is indeed in the mood for some good news.

“We have had several challenges over the year with hurricane-related damage. We’ve lost instruments, practice time and we feel very comfortable that the team will be able to get us back to where we once were,” Harrison said.

“Bridge City has not been an award-winning band program in the last three years and so our numbers in the band program are smaller than we’d like to see.”

The team has some history to live up while following in the footsteps of the caliber of such former directors as Scott Deppe, current head band director at Lamar University. Deppe and others have left behind a legacy of great band performance.

The homegrown Tipton earned his bachelor and master of music education degree at Lamar University at Beaumont and was also band director for Hardin-Jefferson two years, before joining the staff at Nederland ISD four years.

Tipton has found his greatest success in tuba earning all-state honors – although his abilities and skill in composing and choreography strike the balance of his work. He can also be found listening to jazz, sports radio or country.

“We’re actually excited to be able to hold onto the community’s traditions. There are Bridge City staples, and we also will include new arrangements in marching season. I’ll actually write the drill portions, what you see on the field. As far as the music and arranging goes, that will depend on what the students are able to do.”

A believer that band members’ influence should expand to the community, he will be a huge proponent for community involvement.

“I’ve been fortunate through my career as a teacher and a performer to participate in all-state band as a high school kid. That has the greatest influence on me now. I marched in Drum Corp International and taught The Troopers. We got to play in Carnegie Hall and on the David Letterman show. All of those play very big roles.”

Tipton is eager to work with boosters, as their input will be critical in reshaping the band program.

“I’ve had extremely good boosters in Nederland and the Bridge City boosters seem enthusiastic and have lots of things they want to see the kids do,” he said.

The new director already has his eye on the repertoire for marching season. He has picked from a composition in three movements, by Gary Gilroy, that will be regionally exclusive. 

Tipton will be making the journey with his wife Lyndsey and two-and-a-half-year-old son Nolan.