Carroll to be inducted into Bandmasters Hall of Fame

Newly minted Odessa College Director of Bands John Carroll talks about his upcoming induction into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame June 28 in the band hall at OC. Carroll will be starting his 48th year in music education in the fall. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

After 47 years in music education, John Carroll will be inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame later this month.

Carroll has been a band director and associate band director in high schools throughout Texas, including Permian High School, a clinician and adjunct professor. Most recently, he joined Odessa College as its director of bands.

The induction will be July 27 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. He’ll receive a medallion.

Carroll, a past president of the Texas Music Educators Association, found out about the recognition in February when he went to the Phi Beta Mu, an international bandmasters fraternity, in February. The designation was the furthest thing from his mind.

“We have one business meeting a year and it’s at TMEA in February, and they announced there who has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for that year. That’s where I found out … I think, literally, my jaw dropped. It’s nothing I had ever even thought about,” Carroll said.

About eight to 10 band directors are inducted every year from all around the state.

“Honestly, Texas is so big that this year’s class that’s being inducted, I know most of them but there are couple of people I simply didn’t recognize their name when they called them. It stretches all the way from El Paso to Texarkana, from Dalhart down to Brownsville and everywhere in between. It’s a big state and even I was TMEA state band chair, I met more people that way and learned about more names that way,” Carroll said.

He added that he’s honored to be on the list of inductees with “a lot of good people.” You have to be at least 65 to be considered. Carroll is 71.

Odessa College has had a band for many years.

“I call it the Odessa College/Community Band. A lot of community people play in it also and they have a jazz band. The College/Community Band meets on Tuesday nights, and the jazz band meets during the day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Carroll said.

His main goal for the college band is to build up the number of college students in it. Last spring, there were three people enrolled. The big schools like University of Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor are always out recruiting, so if it’s good enough for them, it should be done at OC.

“It involves literally having face-to-face contact with students. Like when school starts, I’ll be going to marching rehearsals and if nothing else, just being there, letting them see me. Maybe the head band director (will) introduce me as the band director at OC. Even if I don’t talk to them that moment, (it will) at least let them put a face with the name of the (college),” Carroll said.

Last spring, there were three students enrolled, but he had about a 50-piece band with community members for their May concert.

“But in all candor, at the moment, the numbers are kind of hurting,” Carroll said.

Having been around the band world for so many years, Carroll knows a lot of people and could get students from outlying areas and dual credit students from the early college high schools on campus, Odessa Collegiate Academy and OCTECHS.

“Any high school would be welcome, but I’m really going to reach out to these OC students because their fine arts access is limited if they’re here full time,” Carroll said.

Carroll actually retired May 31, 2023, but was asked to conduct clinics, consult and judge different types of band competitions.

“I’ve been in band halls working with younger directors and loaning my ears to them on how their kids are playing. I got to do that as well as again, teach adjunct here in the fall and teach adjunct right up to the semester here during the spring,” he added.

He enjoyed his time at OC a lot with the jazz band and the concert band that he threw his hat in to become director of bands for OC. It’s as though everything came together.

“I feel very blessed; that’s for sure,” Carroll said.

Caroll grew up in El Paso. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Abilene Christian University and a master’s with a concentration in music education from West Texas A&M University in Canyon. Percussion is his main instrument.

“When I first started college, I was a Bible major. I was going to be a preacher. My college band director was someone I admired a great deal, respected, looked up to. I wouldn’t say he encouraged me, but just by his presence and his affect on my life, I changed my mind. I just wanted to be a band director, so since about my third year of college, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a band director,” Carroll said.

Jeff Whitaker, director of bands at Permian, said he has known Carroll for 23 years. He is now one of several PHS band directors to receive the recognition.

Being inducted into the Bandmasters Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors a band director can receive in the state of Texas.

“It shows that he’s respected by so many of his peers across the state not just here in Odessa,” but beyond the city limits, Whitaker said.

“His influence has been so strong that they’ve bestowed this honor upon him. It’s basically a lifetime achievement award in band directing and it is well deserved,” Whitaker added.

There are certain requirements you have to fulfill to even be a candidate for hall of fame induction and it’s a lengthy process, he said.

“It is a well-deserved honor for him and I wish him the utmost congratulations,” Whitaker said.

Several PHS directors have been inducted into the hall of fame. Just carrying on that tradition is pretty special too.