Better Equipment Makes a Better Section

a conversation with Rylon Guidry

Rylon Guidry, Director of Bands at Arbor Creek Middle School

The Arbor Creek Middle School Band program includes 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from parts of Carrollton, Plano and Frisco, and is a proud feeder school to the nationally recognized Hebron High School Band. Under the direction of Rylon Guidry, The Arbor Creek Honors Band has been selected by the Foundation for Music Education as a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Wind Band Honors Project in 2014 and 2015.

How many students are in your band program?

We have 170 students in our two performing bands for 7th & 8th graders and annually start about 140-150 beginner 6th grade band students in general music classes. We are proud of our students and their successes at recent TMEA CC State Honor Band Contests and their unanimous first division ratings at local festivals including UIL Concert & Sight-Reading.

What's your position on student equipment?

When students play on quality equipment they are able to excel far greater and faster than if they were battling with poorly designed equipment. I think the reasons are pretty obvious. As instrumentalists, our students are really bound by the quality of their instruments. Even though it’s usual to have a hand-me-down instrument every once in a while, we insist on quality mouthpieces and ligatures that are the same from student to student. As beginners, our students are only able to focus on a few (if not only one) things at a time – it’s important that we educate students and parents on the importance of quality materials. You get what you pay for!

"There are many competitors out there, but it’s simple: a good Vandoren beats anything else!"

What products have your woodwind students found successful?

We believe strongly in the quality of Vandoren mouthpieces for our clarinet and saxophone sections. For clarinetists in Texas, the Vandoren mouthpieces are a staple. At Arbor Creek, we use the M13 Lyre to develop a more open and mature sound from the beginning, but have used the 5RV Lyre in the past – both superior mouthpieces. As a saxophone player I began on another very famous “staple”, but we have recently switched over our students to the Vandoren AL3 (we also purchase the equivalent sizes for our tenor and baritone saxophonists) and this has changed the sound of our saxophone students positively. I’ve even switched over myself.

Another thing that I would go to war over are the Vandoren reeds. There are many competitors out there, but it’s simple: a good Vandoren beats anything else! The vibrating material is perhaps the most important thing in teaching good tone, and that starts and ends with the quality of the reed. We insist that our students only play on Vandoren reeds.

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