Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TOP STORY >> Band leader retiring

Leader staff writer

Cabot High School band director Joe Trusty is retiring at the end of the school year after 34 years with the Cabot School District.

The school board approved hiring assistant band director Randy Hart to the position last week. Hart, a 2002 Cabot High School graduate, is in his fourth year as assistant band director at the school.

Trusty, a Paris High School graduate (Logan County) earned a bachelor’s in music education from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and a master’s from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

He taught one year at Prairie Grove Junior High (Washington County) before moving to Cabot in 1983 to direct the junior high band. He became the high school band director in 1986.

“My very first day teaching in Cabot, I had 116 eighth- and ninth-graders in a room designed to hold 65. If someone came in late and sat in the front row, you had to fold up chairs and stand up to let them in,” Trusty recalled.

During his tenure at the high school he has worked in three band rooms.

Trusty said he was at the right place at the right time in his career. Things kept getting better at Cabot, and he never had a reason to go anywhere else. He said Cabot has great administrative and community support.

He spoke about how Cabot has grown over the years since he first started.

“There were 86 members in the high school band. We easily fit in two buses. It has grown to 207 students in high school band this year. We have to take five to six buses, a tractor trailer and another trailer to take all our stuff. The logistics of moving that many people is insane,” Trusty said.

“We’ve also grown in quality and that is exciting to me. It has led to more very serious musicians; some are more focused on their musical skills. We have four concert bands. Every year they try to outdo and better themselves,” Trusty said.

He said students are more driven now. They are focused on playing great quality music.

The musical demands are more intense, he said. Band di-rectors now have to teach dance moves to enhance the musical story that is being presented. The moves have to accompany the moods the band is trying to present musically.

Trusty said bands perform more often than the 1980s.

“When I first started we’d go to two or three marching contests a year. This past year we went to seven. The difference is we invest so much time and money now in the product that you want to get your money’s worth. The more you perform something the better it gets,” he said.

Trusty said over the years the music has not changed, but the technology has evolved. There is more use of computer generated sound effects. The quality of instruments has gotten better and helps students perform.

Some of his students pursue musical careers. He said one played the drums in the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Others play in military bands across the world. A few make a living composing music.

Trusty was named the Arkansas Band Master of the Year in 2010 and Music Educator of the Year for Arkansas in 2011.

He was named to the Instrumentalist 50 Directors Who Make a Difference in 2014.

He will be inducted into the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Legion of Honor in December in Chicago. The foundation inducts only eight high school band directors a year nationally. Trusty is only the fifth Arkansan to receive the honor.

Retirement will give Trusty time to pursue several projects.

“I’m really excited about learning how to weld. It’s something I always wanted to know how to do,” he said.

Trusty said he’ll have plenty of opportunities to stay in the band business. He had calls from directors at other schools wanting advice on how to improve or judge contests.

He plays the trumpet and performs with the Greater Little Rock Area Metropolitan All-Stars, a jazz band, and at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

“I enjoy playing the trumpet. That’s why I got into this business,” Trusty said.

“The thing I know I will miss the most is working with kids. They keep you young and on your toes. Kids have not changed much over the years,” Trusty said.

Trusty met his wife, Jackie, in Cabot. They have been married 33 years. She works as a physical therapist in Jacksonville.

Superintendent Tony Thur-man said, “Trying to frame the impact that Joe Trusty has made in our district over his 30-plus year career is impossible. Anyone that has worked with Mr. Trusty knows what kind of person he is, what he stands for, and how much he loves kids and this profession.”

“Mr. Trusty is known across our state and has served as a mentor to so many for so long. We wish him well in retirement, but he will be missed not only as a great co-worker, but as a true friend,” Thurman said.

The Cabot High School Band is inviting the band family and the community to celebrate Joe Trusty on his retirement with a reception in his honor at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14 in the Cabot High School cafeteria.