Former RLHS band director comes full circle

Published 1:04 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A chance meeting two years ago between the current band director at Red Level High School and a band director from 40 years ago, brought band students a unique experience Monday night.

Red Level Band Director Demetrius Scott said that he met Dr. Joseph Brashier, who is currently the director of bands at Valdosta State University.

“I met Dr. Brashier at the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference two years ago,” Scott said. “He saw my name tag with the school name and asked if I was the band director.”

Scott said they talked and stayed in touch and the rest is history.

Brashier visited Red Level and was able to tour the school and town, Scott said.

While Brashier was the band director at RLHS, he used to direct music at Fairmount Baptist Church.

During rehearsal, Brashier worked on many fundamental concepts such as articulations, releases, balance and blend, voicing, arranging, and rhythmic and pitch accuracy.

“I’m very impressed with this group of outstanding young musicians,” Brashier said. “I may have even taught some of their grandparents.”

Brashier said he was at RLHS from 1976-1978.

It was his second teaching job, but one he said he remembers well.

“I was offered the job over the phone by then-RLS Principal James Milton,” he said. “His words to me were I don’t know anything about music, and I will stay out of your way. I always respected him for keeping his word and supporting me with the band program.”

Brashier said when the school burned in the 1970s, he was awarded $14,000 and purchased as much sheet music as possible to build a library.

“On my first day at Red Level, only nine people were in the band and it was called the Fighting Tiger Band,” he said. “I felt that we could not be called the Fighting Tiger Band with only nine, so I changed it to A Touch of Class.”

Brashier is a Mississippi native. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and his doctorate from the University of Kansas.

He has taught in Greenwood, Miss., Red Level, Tate High School in Pensacola, was the former associate director of bands at Appalachian State University, former director of athletic bands at Rutgers University.

For the past 19 years he has been the director of bands at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga.

Scott said he oversees all aspects of the band program and is over three concert band ensembles with an assistant who is in charge of the 220-member marching band and athletic bands.

Brashier said he loves to visit schools and has visited 38 thus far this year in Georgia and North Florida to recruit and help prepare for performance assessments.

In his curriculum class, he gives many examples from his time at Red Level, he said.

“A small school is much more difficult to teach in than a bigger schools,” he said. “Throughout my career, I truly learned how to teach at Red Level and I am very grateful fro my time there.”

The Touch of Class spring concert band and banquet will be Tues., April 18, at 6:30 p.m., in the Guy Mason Auditorium.

Students in grades fifth through 12th will be performing.

Scott said Abigail Turner, director of bands at Georgiana, and Will Parker and students from Straughn will perform with them.

Scott said admission is free, but they are asking for a $5 donation at the door.

All proceeds will go to the families of Gordie Cartwright and Kellen Findley.

The banquet is $5 for those who want to eat, Scott said.