By Elsa Maxey
For 11 years now, Stafford Municipal School District band director Rod Rodriguez has been overseeing the band program at the high school and this year has made it really special. “I have all my girls in the school district and we’re not even zoned to come to this school district,” he said. “I believe in the Stafford Municipal School District and what it represents and I want to keep them close to me in the band program.”
When Rodriguez first told the Star “these are my girls,” referring to girls in the band program, he was literally referring to his girls, his four daughters, twins among them. Their music talent has been further inspired by their dad, who was courted to move from Pearsall by a former principal from another school district with whom he previously worked, so that he could improve the band program when he began working in Stafford in 2005. “I had 18 eighth graders and of those, only 8 decided to move up to the next year,” recalls Rodriguez.
Overall, there were only 36 students participating. Today, the music program with students from 6th to the 12th grade boasts having close to 200 members, his four daughters among them. One of them, however, just recently graduated the other day.
And because Rodriguez is at every campus, he has been able to see all four daughters as they progress their music abilities. At school, “they get to see me every day,” he said.
His eldest, eighteen year old, Ali Villasana plays the flute. She says there were no issues with the dad/instructor roles in the classroom. “But the guys in band did not talk to her for almost a year,” said Rodriguez. Probably “because they were scared” since “dad runs a strict program,” affirmed all four daughters, adding that “he’s straightforward, very clear about what he wants us to do and how he wants us to sound – clean, concise.”
Although Ali will not major in music, she intends to continue playing the flute. She will be attending Wharton Junior College and later plans to earn a degree in architecture, already having received dual credit for three classes while in high school.
Cassie, who’s going into the 9th grade, previously participated in band in the 6th grade at Quail Valley Middle School. She plays the saxophone and wanted to select an instrument of her own in spite of auditions for trumpet or clarinet, suggested by her dad. She did her own thing, which he supports. “He wants the best whenever you play,” said Cassie.
The twin girls, Skyla and Raven just concluded their first year of band in the 6th grade, which they started with dad and have intentions of finishing up with him through the 12th grade.
French horns, that’s what the twins play since they wanted to select different instruments than those of their older sisters. Skyla considered the trumpet, but changed her mind. Dad suggested they play the same one as they would be able to help each other and progress together. Then, Raven at one time considered the trombone in thoughts of following dad’s footsteps. But with mom’s influence after a concert, she went another direction. “I heard the French horn and just loved it. It was beautiful,” she said. Dad, incidentally plays all the band instruments, but trombone is his instrument of choice. His wife of almost 15 years, Jamie, played the French horn a little in school, said Rodriguez, and also the fiddle through junior high.
Then, Raven at one time considered the trombone in thoughts of following dad’s footsteps. But with mom’s influence after a concert, she went another direction. “I heard the French horn and just loved it. It was beautiful,” she said.
Dad, incidentally plays all the band instruments, but trombone is his instrument of choice. His wife of almost 15 years, Jamie, played the French horn a little in school, said Rodriguez, and also the fiddle through junior high.
This is a musical family indeed and they have even tried jamming at home. Belly laughter was their response when asked about the results of the session, which they probably won’t do again.
Rodriguez commends the Stafford school district for “supporting the arts, not only band, but the arts, in general,” noting that academics are also important. “Most of top students in academics ranking in the top 10 percent are in the band,” he said.
Not widely known, but just like in sports, participation in the band program is also governed by the no-pass, no-play rule.
For those considering going into the music program, daughter number one, Ali, said that band “doesn’t get in the way of your academics because there is so much flexibility in the program. You’re not just a member, you’re a team player.”
It’s a philosophy that the Rodriguez family daily abides by with dad at the helm.
For the upcoming observance, Fort Bend salutes this dad and extends a Happy Father’s Day to all caring dads and acknowledges their contributions to their families and the society at large.