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TEXAS BANDMASTERS HALL OF FAME
Sponsored by Alpha Chapter - Phi Beta Mu

 
Linda McDavitt - Class of 2012
244
 

LINDA MCDAVITT

According to her parents, on November 17, 1946, a stork dropped a bundle of joy down the chimney at Brook Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston Texas to bless the lives of Jerome and Kathryn McDavitt. Starting her life as an army brat, she was able to live in San Antonio, Texas, Ft. Riley, Kansas and Orleans, France. In 1953 she returned to San Antonio and attended McKinley Elementary School where in the 6th grade it was predicted that someday she would become the Treasurer of the United States. Seeing the state of our economy today, she was lucky that she discovered music instead. Her interest in music began while attending the San Antonio Symphony Children’s concerts. During one of those concerts, Harvey Biskin, Timpanist of the symphony, performed a multiple Percussion solo, “Gerald McBoing-Boing” (a narration about a boy who at 2 years old begins "talking" in the form of sound effects). That was when she fell in love with percussion and, upon entering Junior High, informed her parents that percussion was the only instrument she would consider and not String Bass as was suggested by the orchestra teacher. Linda was asked to play in the San Antonio Youth Symphony in the 8th grade and continued through high school. Her first All-State experience was in 1962 when the Youth Symphony was chosen Honor Orchestra of Texas. At Edison High school, she enjoyed band completely, competing in UIL Marching and Inspection and going on spring band trips with the instruments left at the band hall. It was not until her senior year in high school when a friend in the MacArthur Band asked her what time they played at UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contest that she realized there were more UIL contests. During that same year Linda had finally moved up on the waiting list and studied percussion with Harvey Biskin. In order to continue studying with Mr. Biskin she changed her plan to be a Math major at North Texas State to majoring in Music at the University of Texas.

Linda had been a competitive Roller skater since Junior High. At her second lesson with Mr. Biskin, she was asked (after playing only a few measures of the assignment) how much time she had practiced. Her answer received a “well you are wasting my time and your parents’ money so let’s sit down and find an hour a day in your schedule that will be spent practicing”. Her life changed that day and skating became a memory. Music became her passion and practice began in earnest. She made All-State Orchestra that year, was named Outstanding Percussionist, participated in her first UIL Solo contest, received a 1st division solo rating and learned to rhythmic read. Amazing what a little bit of practice can do!

At the University of Texas, she was a member of Longhorn Band, Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, a member of Tau Beta Sigma, Sigma Alpha Iota and Spooks (an honorary spirit and service organization for outstanding Freshmen and Sophomore women) and performed with the Austin Symphony for four years. She was fortunate to be Paula Crider’s first student teacher and was able to teach Ms. Crider everything she needed to know about student teachers. Seriously, the experience was a wealth of learning by questioning everything Paula said, listening to her answers, and watching her in action. Her other major musical influence, lifelong friend and mentor was Richard Blair, Oboe Professor and Advisor.

Linda’s teaching career started in 1969 in Salisbury, North Carolina as the Director at Knox Junior High and assistant at Boyden High School. While there she played with the Charlotte Symphony and the Charlotte Opera Orchestra. One year of cold country was enough and she returned to Austin to begin work on a Masters in Musicology (MM) and teach at Allan Jr. High. She loved the kids and loved the work, but upon hearing that her thesis Professor would be leaving due to “Publish or Perish”, she “retired” to finish her course work and thesis at UT.

Upon completion of her MM she spent 1974-75 teaching percussion and conducting at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma while returning to Austin each weekend to teach privately and race sailboats. She decided that Austin was where she wanted to be and not sure that she wanted to go back to public school band directing, in 1975-76, she taught privately, threw a paper route, played with Austin Symphony and substituted for Verna Covington who became the main influence for her return to band directing. That summer she taught at Northern Michigan University as their Interim Percussion Instructor for the graduate students. In 1976 she became assistant director at Travis High School, then in 1978 moved to Dripping Springs to be the only director for 6th grade through High School. She was fortunate to inherit a program that had been taught both great fundamentals and a love of music by Charles Schandua. It was at Dripping Springs that she felt she came into her own since there was no one else to blame if the kids did not play well. The work ethic of the “Dripping” kids was absolutely amazing. In 1984 she became Assistant Director of Bands at Texas Christian University.

In 1986 Linda returned to the age group she loved the best and became the head director at San Antonio MacArthur HS. Thanks to great middle school directors Billy Harrell, Penny Compton and Larry Schmidt for providing outstanding students to continue the success that the Mac Band had developed under Bill Brady.

In 1994 Linda took time out to spend a year competing in National sailing competitions, take classes from UT and Southwest Texas, conduct the San Antonio Tuesday Music Club String Ensemble and have back surgery. Back in the saddle in 1995, she worked as an assistant at Madison High School.

In 1997 she became Head Director at Converse Judson High School where she brought the band program back to a sweepstakes level.

During her teaching career, Linda was active as an adjudicator, a clinician, a member of both TMEA and TBA and she also provided the demonstration band for numerous TBA and TMEA clinicians while at MacArthur. Linda has served as Percussion Organizer for the 5A All-State Symphonic Band, Concert Band and Symphony Orchestras as well as serving as Region 12 band chair, and on the UIL Sight Reading Committee and the State Marching Band Advisory Committee.

Linda retired in 2001 to spend more time with her mother and to run the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation for her aunt. This began a new journey into the nonprofit world and she quickly learned how fortunate she had been to work with great kids and parents in her 30 years of teaching. Now she hit the reality of children that were abused, suffered from substance abuse, teen pregnancy, juvenile detention centers, homelessness, as well as the education issues and the health and human services needs. She is fortunate that Genevieve was very involved in the fine arts and thus one of their primary funding areas incorporates the use of Fine Arts in nonprofit programs.

Since her retirement, Linda has taught privately, played with the Austin Symphonic Band for eight years , been the ASB Microband Conductor, played with the Inside Out Steel Band for two years and continues to do some performing at church. She has served on the Austin Yacht Club Board, the Longhorn Alumni Band Charitable Fund Board, and several Association of Small Foundations and Conference of Southwest Foundation committees. She is currently serving on the Board of the Descendants Group of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

Growing up, Linda was taught to always do the best she could and in her lifetime she worked hard to achieve that goal. Besides having bands that were named Best in Class at numerous contests, 10 state marching bands out of 13 in the years as head director of a program, finalist for Honor band in AA, AAA, and AAAAA divisions, having numerous private All-State students as well as All-State students in her band programs, she was nominated several times for Outstanding Teacher, the 1994 Texas Excellence Award for Outstanding High School Teachers, given by the University of Texas Ex-Students Association and the College of Education, and she was recognized at both TCU and MacArthur High School for Outstanding and most influential Teacher by her students

In 2008 she was selected to receive Texas A & M University’s Inspiration Award for Exceptional Secondary Education. Nominated by former Judson band student, Anais Carrillo, the award was bestowed to her by the President of A&M University.

In 1976 she received the Outstanding Carrier Award for delivering newspapers (after finishing her Master of Music). Linda has represented Texas in numerous national and International Sailing events, was a member of the 2001 Women’s National Champion Sailing Team and as the CEO of the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation received the 2010 Outstanding Foundation Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals in South Central Texas.

Linda is thankful for the 30 wonderful years she enjoyed as a band director and the wonderful people and influences she met along the way. In the last 11 years she has been made acutely aware of how privileged and blessed she has been to have worked with her students, parents and administrators.

There is one thing that she would like to pass on to young band directors: Always give your students high expectation levels, never tell them that they are not capable and your expectations will most likely be met. Ask your students to do their best and they will always be winners. (Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.)
Linda would like to thank Phi Beta Mu for this great honor, but acknowledges that the honor really belongs to her students’ hard work, dedication to the programs and pride in their accomplishments; the parent support that helped shape the students into who they are; to her peers and colleagues who guided her along the way during her career; and finally her family and friends who were always there for support when she needed them.


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