Van Arsdale heads West band department

Bradley Phelps

Just a few weeks ago at the beginning of this semester, Mr. Pat Van Arsdale began working as full-time band director at West Jessamine following the departure of Mr. Michael White, who had been the band director for four and a half years before recently accepting the role of assistant principal at Red Oak Elementary.

This is Van Arsdale’s first full-time job since he graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in music education. However, he spent the past two years working at Lafayette High School in Lexington as a music and visual coach as well as offering private music lessons to students. The Lafayette marching band won the state championship in their competition class both years that Van Arsdale was involved in the program. He has also worked as a substitute teacher in Fayette County and Woodford County.

Before that, Van Arsdale was in the UK marching band for two seasons as a drum major. He once saved former UK basketball player Anthony Davis from falling directly into the UK pep band during the 2012 Final Four game against Louisville.  He was also involved in UK’s wind ensemble, symphonic band, symphonic orchestra, jazz ensemble and trumpet ensemble.

Van Arsdale attributes his heavy involvement in music to both his family, which consists almost entirely of musicians, and to a performance by Canadian jazz trumpet player Maynard Ferguson that he attended when he was young. He said that this performance was what inspired him to play trumpet as his primary instrument, although he plays many others, including piano and his favorite instrument, French horn.

Although Van Arsdale is technically an interim band director for this semester, he intends fully to return for the entirety of the 2014-15 school year and beyond. Some of the goals he has set for the next few years are to return to the marching band state finals, which the Colts have not done since 2011, and to increase total band enrollment to around 125 students, which is considerably more than the program currently has due to declining numbers over the past few years.

As for the more distant future, Van Arsdale is unsure of specifics, but he sees himself being a music educator in Kentucky for a very long time.

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