Lake Highlands High alum Claire Pittman is returning to her home turf. The 2010 graduate is LHHS’ new assistant band director, leading Concert Band, assisting with Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, teaching classes at LH-area elementary campuses and instructing the Wildcat Marching Band.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d be back teaching in Lake Highlands,” says Pittman happily. “I’m returning to the community that raised me.”
Pittman’s new boss will be Reagan Brumley, one of her own high school band instructors. Brumley left LHHS for Berkner, then led the Highland Park Highlander Marching Band for 9 years before moving to Irving ISD. He’s returning to serve as director of bands and fine arts coordinator at LHHS.
Pittman says LH’s band program is perfectly poised to provide a more rewarding – and enjoyable – educational experience for students after months of learning and performing over a computer screen during the pandemic.
“With more of a normal year, we will be able to give kiddoes what they’ve been missing. When you’re talking about the performing arts, kids are drawn to the team aspect of performing in a group. A lot of programs have struggled. The kids were still working hard, but there was no payoff. The performances had to be pre-recorded or to limited audiences. That was a beating for the kids, but also for the teachers. With limited tangible goals to work toward, it was a challenge. On the flip side, just as adults and college students are ready to get back to normal, the same is true for band students. Everyone wants that social aspect that’s been missing.”
Before bouncing back to her alma mater, Pittman was associate band director at Killian Middle School in Lewisville. Under her direction, the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band received consistent “Superior” ratings and achieved success at UIL competitions and local festivals. Her Honors Band was selected as the 2018 Texas Music Educators Association Honor Band and was invited to perform at the 2019 Midwest Band and Orchestra Convention. Pittman spent two years as assistant band director at New Braunfels High School and Ninth Grade Center before moving to Lewisville.
Summers have always been special for Pittman. In 2009 she began performing with, and she later instructed for, competitors in Drum Corps International. DCI bands travel around the world, competing in dozens of shows. Pittman’s final two years as a performer with the Blue Devils sent her to the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. On the educational staff of the Cavaliers, she has led mellophone instruction and assisted with all aspects of the brass program.
Though she’s spent time performing in other countries and teaching in other districts, Pittman says she was never really far from home.
“I don’t know what it is about Lake Highlands and Richardson ISD – there’s always a connection. A parent of a student in Lewisville worked in RISD. Another’s sister had kids coming up through RISD schools. It speaks to the community. People either stick around in LH or their life brings them back. That’s a unique aspect of the neighborhood.”
Pittman says she, Brumley and the rest of the band staff are anxious to get started.
“We want to be good, but, before that, we want it to be a positive experience for the kids. We want to have an open-door policy where the kids can bring any concern to us. A lot of the kids, especially the young ones, have missed the fun side of band. That’s a priority for us. We want to have a good time while executing high standards.”