Brenda Castillo, Fine Arts Department Chairperson and Director of Band and Choir at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, has been inducted into the Phi Beta Mu, International Bandmasters’ Fraternity – Epsilon Chapter. The honorary fraternity for band directors is designed to honor outstanding band directors at the state level.
Castillo was nominated by Guy Wood, Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA) District 6 Director (Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard Parishes) and Archbishop Shaw High School Band Director. She was sponsored by Wood, retired band director Karl Hymel and Dr. Nicholas Compagno, band director at Archbishop Chapelle High School who wrote a letter of recommendation for membership.
Phi Beta Mu was founded in 1939 in appreciation of founder Colonel Earl D. Irons’ respect and appreciation for his professional associates, school band directors. Irons was Bandmaster and Chairman of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Arlington, then known as North Texas Agricultural College. He envisioned an organization that would honor outstanding band directors whose dedication and devotion to the profession was paramount, but whose admirable traits and services were not necessarily known nationally.
For the past 28 years, Castillo has shared her talent, experience, and love of music with students at Dominican. At age five, Castillo began piano lessons, later adding clarinet and percussion to her repertoire. Mastering percussion was a challenge she welcomed and excelled at in performance halls and marching bands. In the classroom and at rehearsals, Castillo challenges her students, asking them if they are reaching their best performance. “I tell my students, if they can’t lead, then I am not teaching them correctly,” said Castillo.
She celebrates accomplishments of her students in band and choir, as well as the young ones in the school’s Summer Camp band program. Dominican’s band and choir have taken numerous district and state honors. Among these are District VI Senior High Honor Band, Junior High Honor Band, Senior High Honor Jazz Band, and Junior High Honor Jazz Band; LMEA All-State Senior High Honor Orchestra, Senior High Honor Symphonic Band, Senior High Honor Concert Band; LMEA Instrumental Solo and Small Ensemble Assessment Festival, District Instrumental Large Ensemble Assessment Festival, and State Instrumental Large Ensemble Assessment Festival.
In 2015, The Brenda Castillo Music Department Endowment Fund was established at Dominican by Dr. and Mrs. Kraig de Lanzac and their daughter Mallory (a 2015 DHS graduate) in appreciation of Castillo’s hard work, selfless dedication, and extraordinary generosity.
St. Mary’s Dominican High School Fine Arts Department Chairperson and Director of Band and Choir Brenda Castillo (center), with Guy Wood, Karl Hymel, and Nicholas Compagno at Castillo’s induction into Phi Beta Mu, International Bandmasters’ Fraternity – Epsilon Chapter.