Mesquite ISD’s Director of Fine Arts Steve Andre has over 30 years of music education experience under his belt. Andre is a Southlake native and attended Southlake Carroll back when the area was still a small, country town. Before becoming director, he studied at Stephen F. Austin University and Texas Christian University and served as the band director for many years.
Now, he oversees the band, choir, orchestra, art and theater programs for grades K-12 with the assistance of two facilitators in the area of elementary music and art and theater.
How did you get your start with Mesquite ISD?
I replaced John Kline when he retired, prior to that I was 20 years as the head band director and fine arts chair at Grapevine High School.
Why did you decide to get into the field of education?
I love music and I love teaching so becoming a band director just made sense to me. It's something that I love, I enjoy being active, and it's been a real joy in my life the last 30 something years to be involved in music education. I do believe it has a positive impact on students' lives and I enjoy being a part of that.
It's one of those things where when I was in high school I just couldn't imagine my life without music in it.
When did you get your start in music?
I was in band, started in middle school playing the saxophone. I went to a small high school and when I was in school the eighth grade marched with the high school band.
How did you know teaching music was what you wanted to do?
My band director was a great model and I saw how much he loved his job. Because it was a small school there weren't any assistant directors, it was just the one director so I got to work closely with him so that really intrigued me; the whole part of band and teaching kids the marching piece of it and I enjoyed playing my horn and making music. I just couldn't see myself doing anything else.
I like that it's different all the time; we don't play the same music every year, it's different kids every year. I guess, too, being a drum major in high school the energy that you felt from a group performing and being in front of (people) was a real exciting thing for me that I just wanted to continue it.
So why music education as oppose to pursuing a career as a musician?
I love playing my horn, I was pretty good at it but I like the idea of having a steady job and I enjoy working with people, too. I think that was something that even in a leadership role in high school when you start working with people and you see them 'get it' and be successful I got great joy in that, seeing that success. Plus, I took lessons from guys who were going that route (musician) and their life was not something that I wanted to do.
What has been the biggest difference for you going from teaching to administration?
The big difference for me is that I do miss the daily interactions with students, those relationships that you build. But I do think in this position that I have the ability to impact a wider range of students. Even though I don't have the direct one-on-one contact I think I can make a larger impact on a wider variety of students.
Why do you think the fine arts is important to children?
In a lot of ways it engages the right side of the brain, the creativity piece of it that most of the other subjects don't. I think that was something for me, too, it was something I wasn't getting from my other classes. It's the creativity, a way to be expressive, the ability to work in groups and it teaches a lot of things that can help our students be successful in life whether they major in music or not.
When you're not working what do you do for fun?
I've got three kids so I enjoy being involved in their activities, but my passion outside of that is playing golf.
What would you like to see for the Fine Arts Department in the next five years?
I really want our kids to be seen as kind of the energy and the life blood of our campuses because our fine arts kids do excel academically and they're also involved in other school activities. I think that fine arts and athletics give schools an identity, and I'd just like to see us really embrace the arts and what they do for students as far as their self esteem and skills they develop and how they can have a positive impact on a culture of a campus.
I want to continue to push our students to achieving greater things in our programs and I think as we continue to do that we bring even more recognition to the great things that we do for our students at MISD.
What is your favorite music genre?
I love classic rock, and I do listen to classical music. I think part of me is that I am well-rounded and I listen to all kinds of music because I like it all, and I think it all has merit and fun to listen to.
Who is your favorite musician?
At the top are probably Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder and Journey.
What are the top five songs on your playlist right now?
Fantasy by Earth, Wind and Fire, Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles, You're Still a Young Man by Tower of Power, If We are the Body by Casting Crowns, and Don't Stop Believing by Journey.
What current artist is kind of your guilty pleasure? Something you listen to but don't want to admit that you like.
I like country music. I love listening to Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, I enjoy that, and sometimes it's nice to hear music you don't have to think about, just good, clean lyrics, and fun songs.
I don't mind a Big and Rich song every now and then.