LHHS welcomes new band director
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
When Shawn Murphy steps into the Liberty Hill High School Band Hall this summer, the new director will have his sights set on the kind of success that makes him a proud onlooker.
He says seeing the band perform well, be it at halftime or at contest, is everything.
“It’s what we’ve trained the kids for,” said Murphy. “We train them so they can be successful without us. You teach them as much as you can, catch them when they fall, dust them off, give them the tools they need to be successful and then once they’ve had enough practice you step out of the way and let them do it.”
The University of North Texas alum is stepping in as the new band director at Liberty Hill High School, after John Perrin decided to take his talents to the middle school level.
“I’m excited to get started at Liberty Hill,” he said. “There’s a lot of great potential, great support, awesome kids and parents. It’s an exciting opportunity for me to join the team of band directors in Liberty Hill.”
Murphy has been the director at Burleson Centennial High since 2015, and was in Azle before that dating back to 2011. Coming to Central Texas – and to Liberty Hill specifically – is something he sees as a great opportunity.
“The band scene here is incredible,” Murphy said. “All the Austin area bands are just amazing, and a lot of them are led by friends of mine. To be able to come to a part of the state I really love and come to a place with the overwhelmingly positive growth and community, with a drive for excellence, is a great atmosphere to be able to join.”
The involvement of stakeholders throughout the community was something that impressed Murphy in his interview process.
“This was a very unique process, having a room full of faculty and administrators, then moving to another room with students, and then another room that had parents,” he said. “No other interview for a job has been quite like that. Talking to the kids was where I was most comfortable. I connected immediately with them and the questions they asked. They came from the heart and it was easy to answer them from my heart.”
The connection with the students was instant, and the message was one Murphy was excited about.
“They want to be really good, and they wanted to know how I would make them really good,” he said. “We had a nice discussion. It was a really comfortable part of the interview and I liked the fire in their eyes. Their commitment to be a part of that process shows they care about the future.”
Liberty Hill ISD Superintendent Steve Snell was not only excited about the experience Murphy brings to the district, but the overall strength he sees in the band program.
“I am very excited about the hire of Shawn Murphy and the future of the band program,” Snell said. “He brings with him a wealth of large band program success in both marching and UIL.
“I am also excited that Mr. Perrin is staying on and will be at the middle school giving those students a solid foundation to build on during those critical years,” Snell said. “We will have solid personnel in our program sixth through 12th and I look forward to the growth, energy, and success moving forward.”
His experience growing up in band was special for Murphy.
“I had great band directors when I was a kid,” he said. “I was shown the way by some pretty incredible teachers, and I didn’t know at the time, but they were legends. I just happened to be in their program just by virtue of where I lived. They gave me a great foundation and I worked at it and got better.”
Being in the band was always part of his plan, but the decision to become a band director came later.
Many of his friends in the University of North Texas (UNT) Band were music education majors and to Murphy, it seemed like they were having the most fun. He changed his major to music education and never looked back. He calls his music journey a “work in progress.”
“I’m a living mosaic of every teacher I’ve ever had,” Murphy said. “I’ve taken what works in certain situations from certain band directors. I’ve also gone to learn from directors themselves, taking a personal day and with permission going in and sitting and taking notes as though I was a student teacher all over again.”
His philosophy for creating and building success with his band has a few key components.
First, it is important to build strong bonds with kids and families, then there is the importance of setting goals.
“You have to have goals of where you want to be, big goals and little goals all along the way,” Murphy said. “That helps motivate kids and makes the work more meaningful.”
After that, it is a good mix of hard work, kindness and fun.
“It’s also about climate and atmosphere,” he said. “What is the energy in the air in the band hall? It’s about hard work, and we’re going to work hard. That’s what we’re going to be about. We’re also going to be kind and we’re going to have fun.”
Murphy and his wife, Kim, who he met in the band at UNT, have two sons, Mason, who is 13, and Hayden, who is nine.