DR. BARRY W. JOHNSON
Barry Wayne Johnson was born in New Braunfels, Texas, August 28, 1943. Parents Howard and Marie Johnson lived in Bastrop County. A few years later, the family moved to Luling, Texas, where Howard and Marie were in the grocery business for twenty-five years. Growing up in a grocery store, Barry Wayne learned the lessons and benefits of hard work at an early age. As a youngster, Barry Wayne spent many hours stocking shelves, working in the meat market, and delivering groceries. Howard was an amateur musician playing the “fiddle,” guitar, and mandolin primarily by ear. As long as Barry Wayne can remember, his parents always said that he would be going to college in order to have a better life than they had. In fact, Howard and Marie bought Series E War Bonds to finance Barry Wayne’s college education. Interestingly, the War Bonds were not used for that purpose. They matured and were cashed several years after the death of Howard and Marie.
Barry Wayne attended Luling public schools throughout his public school education. In the second grade, he began piano lessons. As the piano lessons evolved, he added Hammond organ lessons. At age 11, Barry Wayne was playing piano in local churches. Throughout his public school days and into his early professional career, Johnson played piano and organ in various churches. In the fifth grade, band was offered and Johnson chose to play cornet. The Luling band director at that time was Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame member, A.J. “Tony” Fassino. That particular year was Mr. Fassino’s last year in Luling before moving to Industrial High School. Johnson remembers the fundamentals of band instruction received during this initial year of band. Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame member, Ernest Clark followed Fassino as band director in Luling. Mr. Clark’s three year tenure in Luling was during Johnson’s sixth through eighth grade years. Johnson credits his sound foundation in music to the instruction received through piano and organ study as well as the instruction received from these two outstanding musicians and teachers. Johnson remembers very well performing the solo, “The Little Monarch,” at solo and ensemble contest in the seventh grade for the judge, Mr. Fassino. The first division medal he received as a result of that performance continues to have special significance. Additional public school band directors included James Banks and Charles Musch.
In the fall of 1961, Johnson enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University where he played trumpet in the Cowboy Band directed by Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame member, “Prof” McClure. In 1962 Johnson transferred to Sam Houston State University where he studied trumpet with F. A. “Mickey” Tull and Kit Reid. Johnson also played in the band conducted by Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame member, Dr. Ralph L. Mills. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in 1965, Johnson received a graduate assistantship in music theory. Master’s degree study included theory and analysis classes primarily with Dr. Tull. His Master of Arts degree was completed in 1966.
Johnson’s first teaching job was in the music department at Texarkana College where he taught several music courses and directed the band. After three years at Texarkana, Johnson became the assistant band director at Highland Park High School, working with Robert M. “Bob” Jordan. During this time, Johnson attended North Texas State University in the summers, taking courses toward a doctoral degree. After two years at Highland Park, Johnson spent one year at North Texas as a part time trumpet instructor while studying trumpet with John Haynie. Additionally, he studied various areas of pedagogy and analysis with Clyde Miller, Frank Mainous, Merrill Ellis, David McGuire, Ed Rainbow, William Latham, and Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame member, Maurice McAdow. Johnson also played in the North Texas Band conducted by McAdow.
Johnson continued his public school career as band director at Hillsboro High School beginning in 1972. Inheriting a high school band of 60 students, he was responsible for the entire band program, grades 6-12. During his five year tenure at Hillsboro High School, Johnson’s bands received four U.I.L. Sweepstakes awards, Best in Class at various contests, and a second place finish at the Parade of Champions marching contest. The four Sweepstakes awards achieved by Johnson’s bands are the only Sweepstakes awards achieved in the history of the school to date. At the end of his five years at Hillsboro High School, the high school band had an enrollment of over 130, the junior high band enrolled 120 students, and over 100 beginners started each year.
In 1977, Johnson was named high school band director at Woodville High School. Assuming responsibility for a well-established East Texas band program with a long heritage of outstanding bands was an honor and a challenge. As high school band director, he was part of a band staff that included Russell Cronin, Woodville Junior High School band director. Johnson and Cronin teamed together to produce outstanding high school and junior high school bands at Woodville. During Johnson’s six year tenure at Woodville, his bands received six Sweepstakes awards, Best in Class at Six Flags over Texas contest, Best in Class at Tri-State Music Festival in marching, and Best in Class at the Cavalcade of Music contest in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1980 the Woodville High School Band was named Class AAA Texas Honor Band. This was the first Class AAA Honor Band under the current AAAAA classification system. Johnson’s band performed at the TMEA convention in February 1981.
In 1983, Johnson joined the band staff at Lamar University as Assistant Director of Bands and director of the marching band. This was the beginning of a long term relationship working with and for Dr. James M. Simmons, who was Director of Bands at that time. Eventually, Dr. Simmons became president of Lamar University and Johnson assumed his current position as Vice President for Student Affairs in 2000.
Becoming Director of Bands in 1985, Johnson led the Lamar University Band program to many honors and awards. His leadership with the band program was especially important during the elimination of the university football program. He was able to maintain an active band program without the lure of football. From a band director’s point of view, Johnson will tell you that the demise of the football program was a band director’s dream come true because of not having to field a marching band! Each fall began with preparation for the early fall Lamarissimo! concert. During these difficult times, the Lamar University Band program continued to flourish with performances at the TMEA convention on four occasions featuring soloists and guest conductors including Jay Wadenpfuhl, French Horn, Allen Vizzuti, Trumpet, Dr. Harry Begian, conductor, and Frank Battisti, conductor. The Lamar Symphonic Band performed two times at the College Band Director’s Association Southwest Conference, and was the first Texas band to perform at the Western International Band Clinic in Portland, Oregon. Johnson accomplished a major recording goal in 1999 when a documentary CD of the complete marches of Kenneth Alford was produced and marketed through Mark Custom Records. Johnson is especially appreciative to long time friend and colleague, Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame member, Val Rose, for his assistance in this project. Johnson also conducted the Concert Band of Southeast Texas, an ensemble consisting of professional musicians from the Southeast Texas area. This ensemble performed at the TBA convention on two occasions.
In 1986 Johnson completed doctoral studies at the University of Houston attaining the Doctor of Education degree. A life-long student, Johnson continued his studies by attending conducting conferences across the country. One of his most memorable was a three day intense course of private conducting study with Elizabeth A. H. Green at her home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1991, Johnson received a Diploma of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Conducting from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. This diploma was the culmination of three summers of conducting study. The faculty for the three summers included Frederick Fennell, Craig Kirchhoff, Stanley DeRusha, James Bankhead, David Whitwell, Donald Hunsberger, Eugene Corporon, and Jerome Summers. Johnson hosted an annual conducting symposium at Lamar University in which Craig Kirchhoff was the clinician. This association resulted in study with Mr. Kirchhoff not only for the university students but also for Johnson. Additionally, Johnson has been a clinician and contest judge for many bands across the state as well as for bands in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.
While serving as Director of Bands at Lamar University, Johnson also served three years as chair of the Lamar University Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. In 2000, Johnson became Vice President for Student Affairs at Lamar University. Johnson was a part of the Texas governor’s Executive Development Program in 2001. In 2009, Johnson received the Certificate in Student Affairs Law and Policy presented by the Stetson College of Law and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Johnson plans to retire from his current position, after 45 years in education on August 31, 2011.
Johnson states, “My career in education has been exciting. The help and assistance I have received from my wife Pattie is beyond description. She has been the stabilizer in my life and my career. Our two sons, Michael and David, both musicians and teachers, have also been our pride and joy. Of course, our five grandchildren are the loves of our lives. I would be remiss not to mention the many students I have encountered during my career. It has been a wonderful experience and I appreciate the hard work and dedication each student has provided. I want to thank Phi Beta Mu for giving me the opportunity to receive such a prestigious honor. Words cannot express the gratitude and appreciation I have for this recognition.”