Fredlein (Fred) J. Schroeder, Jr. was born to Fredlein and Marie Grace Schroeder on August 7, 1944, in Seguin, Texas, as a third generation German American and the middle of three children. When Fred started school, he attended St. Joseph Catholic School. Growing up in a small town, Fred was able to ride his bike to school and then to his dad’s business after school, where he worked sweeping and cleaning the warehouse. While in elementary school, he started his musical training with piano lessons. His first piano teachers were nuns who would rap his knuckles with a ruler when he made a mistake. Fred remembers his mom supervising his piano practice by sitting next to the piano and darning socks and mending clothes. For his first piano recital, Fred played a piece in the key of C, but there was a leaky flower vase on the piano and middle C did not work, so there were several “moments of silence” during his recital. Fred’s mother would take Fred, his sister and his brother out of school each year so they could attend the San Antonio Symphony children’s concerts which helped develop his appreciation for the classics. His older sister played flute in the school band and after hearing her band concert, Fred wanted to play in the band. In 7th grade, he transferred to Saegert Jr. High School where he joined the band and started playing the cornet. His jr. high band director, Joe Rogers, inspired him so much Fred knew from this early age he wanted to be a band director. When Fred started high school, he joined the Seguin HS Matador Band where he continued under the direction of Joe Rogers. When he asked his father for a trumpet, his dad said he would have to earn half the money first and then he would cosign a note for the remainder. Fred worked hard sacking groceries at a local store and working on his dad’s farm. When he earned enough money, he bought a Mt. Vernon Bach. While in high school, Fred was vice president of the band, student conductor, and president of Future Teachers Association. When he attended Band Day at the University of Texas, UT was playing Texas Tech and Fred fell in love with the Texas Tech Band. Along with band, Fred was also very active in Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
In 1962, Fred left Seguin for Lubbock, Texas, to attend Texas Tech. While earning his bachelors and his masters degrees in music education, Fred was very active with the Texas Tech Red Raider Band under the direction of Dean Killion. Fred was vice president of the band and student conductor his senior year. He joined Kappa Kappa Psi and Phi Mu Alpha. He served as secretary and vice president of Kappa Kappa Psi and was named Outstanding Active Kappa Kappa Psi. While working on his masters degree, Fred started his teaching career at Smyer High School. He was the second band director of their young band program. He took the band to their first contest where they earned a 2 on stage and a 1 in sight reading. The next year he went to Smylie Wilson Jr. High School in Lubbock, where he taught band and orchestra. In his leisure time, Fred sang with the Plainsmen barbershop chorus. His teaching career was interrupted when a letter of greeting arrived from Uncle Sam. Fred joined the U. S. Army and never left Texas. As he finished his masters degree he left for basic training at Ft. Bliss in El Paso and then joined the 4th Army Band in San Antonio.
After completing his tour of duty in 1971, Fred became the first band director at Bammel Middle School in Spring ISD in Houston. Being young, single, and full of energy, Fred would arrive at the band hall about 6:00 a.m. and wouldn’t leave until 9:00 p.m. every day. He tried to squeeze as much teaching as he could into each school day. He had a saying that all of his students memorized: “Being on time is being late, being early is being on time.” When the tardy bell rang, everyone was expected to be in their seats with their books in their lockers, their horns ready to play, and their music on their stands. In 1976 this band was picked as the Texas CC Middle School Honor Band. Fred said when this band performed at TMEA the next year, the band was as strong, if not stronger, than when it won the title the year before. While at Bammel, Fred also served as the assistant director at Spring High School under the direction of Orville Kelley. In 1979, Fred transferred to Spring High School South Campus where he worked with Richard Crain.
In 1980, Fred took a leave of absence from teaching. He and Joe Rogers became co-owners of R&S Music Stores in New Braunfels and Seguin. In 1981, Al Sturchio asked Fred to apply as band director at Wood Middle School in San Antonio, Texas. Realizing his first love was teaching middle school age students, he applied and was hired as head band director. While at Wood Middle School, his beginning band program grew so large that he started a Beginner Band Solo & Ensemble Contest for NEISD. Fred also broke one of his “cardinal rules” – never date anyone affiliated with work. He started dating a band parent his second year at Wood Middle School, Susan Wood Bierden, whom he married the next year. Fred was forty years old when he finally married and gained a ready-made family with stepdaughter Stephanie. When NEISD opened Driscoll Middle School, Fred became their first band director. This was his last teaching position and in 1998, Fred retired from teaching.
During his teaching career, Fred’s bands earned consistent sweepstakes awards, along with many best in class awards at various contests in Texas and Louisiana. Fred served as guest clinician throughout Texas and Louisiana and presented clinics at the TBA Convention. His awards included Phi Beta Mu Texas Young Bandmaster, TMEA Leadership and Achievement Award, Honorary Life Member of PTA, and Outstanding Director at Alamo Tournament of Bands. He served as region middle school band chairman for Region 19 and Region 12 and was secretary/treasurer for Region 12.
After retirement Fred worked with Habitat for Humanity every week, played with the San Antonio Municipal Band, sang with the San Antonio Liederkranz (an all male German Chorus associated with St. Joseph Catholic Church - better known as St. Joske’s) and visited New England to view the fall foliage. After Susan’s retirement, they sold their home and started traveling the country in their motorhome visiting all of the lower forty-eight states and the three maritime provinces of Canada. During these travels, Fred continued to work for Habitat for Humanity building houses in Wyoming, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, and Texas. After traveling for five years they settled down in Round Rock where they bought five acres with an old ranch house. They are currently doing “Habitat for Fred and Susan” as they totally rebuild their house. In addition to their two house cats that traveled the country with them, they have acquired a horse, two goats, a dog and two barn cats. Fred started directing again, but this time he is directing the 9:30 a.m. choir at St. William Catholic Church.
Fred’s professional memberships include TBA, Phi Beta Mu, TMEA, ASBDA, NBA, and TMAA. There were several band directors influential in Fred’s band career, including Joe Rogers, Dean Killion, Orland Butler, Orville Kelley, Richard Crain, Billy Harrell, Lee Boyd Montgomery and Bob Rustowicz. During his career he was also blessed with outstanding assistants, including Wade MacDonald, Eldon Reynolds, Toni Slepak, Paul Schmidt, Angie Smith, Cyndi Patmon and Richard Gonzales. His appreciation goes out to all his former students, band parents, and administration that made his career such an enjoyable and memorable experience. Fred feels humbled and honored to be included with the many outstanding members of the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame.