New marching band director shares his story


During band camp, Aug. 8, Mr. Kasey Searles instructs his students on where and when to stop marching, in preparation for their competitions. Photo by Emma Accacian

Marching band saved his life, and new band director Mr. Kasey Searles says it shaped him to be the person he is today.

“My father was murdered when I was 10 [years old], I really needed something to guide me, to take a hold of me. [Marching band saved my life] because I was so mentally, emotionally, and physically involved. You’re marching on the field, playing and memorizing music for a show; there are so many dynamics, it’s endless,” Searles said.

As Searles continued with the program, he began to take marching band seriously when he entered high school.

“I went to a really competitive high school in [Tulsa] Oklahoma, called Broken Arrow High School. We, [the marching band], won Grand Nationals in 2006 and they’ve won it two more times since I graduated in 2008,” Searles said.

From Searles’s personal experience as  a member of a highly competitive program, he said he will utilize what he has learned to further educate and improve the program here.

The experience led to college options for Searles as well.

“[In high school] I recorded two professional CD’s with Ensemble and ended up getting into UNLV [University of Nevada Las Vegas] on a full scholarship for music,” Searles said.

However, due to unforeseen circumstances of economic troubles, Searles was motivated to go into a better career instead.

“The economy was tanking and I was forced to drop my scholarship and enter in the nursing field. I then left UNLV and finished up my degree in Oklahoma. I also met my wife at UNLV. Jump forward [a few years]. She moved out to Oklahoma with me and [then] in 2015 we ended up moving to California [because of] her family. We now have a daughter and she will be one Sept. 18,” Searles said.

Apart from his new role in marching band, Searles has been involved in multiple fields. He has had several experiences within the nursing field, while also broadening his education.  

“I have done other nursing jobs, like encology dialysis. However currently I handle 51/50s, people who are homicidal, suicidal and greatly disabled. That is what I do full time. I am also finishing up at Sierra [College] with my AA [Associates of Arts Degree] in music next semester,” Searles said.

Searles’ exposure to tough situations in the medical field has given him a positive outlook on life.

“I have to keep a positive mindset and remember that when I leave work this is my life, and that’s those people’s lives. I’m just trying to help them and if they don’t want help, then that’s on them,” Searles said.

Searles also commutes between Colfax and workplaces, which may appear to be stressful and time-consuming, but Searles has found yet another way to view the situation with positivity.

“I look at the benefit of [commuting], I have time to come down; it gives you that time to listen to music or prepare yourself to come home so you’re not bringing all that negative energy. Real life is stressful, and I’m dealing with psychotic people all day. There are different forms of coping with this and that 30 minutes or an hour is the time for me to decompress,” Searles said.

His positive nature has led Searles to want to implement that same mindset and attitude within his students.

“I have already implemented a lot [of changes], like a positive attitude. There’s also a discipline aspect, and some people can frown upon that, but I believe every young adult needs structure. So far [I have brought about that change in] respect, and having everyone respect each other. I think that comes from being genuine. you can’t be fake around people, and for the most part students are pretty smart and they pick up on that. You have to really mean things, and it’s all about finding your boundaries, and figuring out others,” Searles said.

In comparison to the previous marching band director, Mr. Kris Harper, students provide their personal insight with regards to the new rules and discipline aspect.

“Mr. Searles is slightly more strict than Harper so far [this] season. He has introduced new block exercises and vastly changed the past marching commands. [For example] veterans had to learn new techniques and instruction alongside the freshman, which was refreshing. With the switching of directions, Mr. Searles also plans on making small changes to how the band practices in the upcoming season to make sure we deliver our best at competitions. My experience with him, so far, has been nothing but positive since his feedback helps the band grow as a whole,” Jessica Franco said.

Similarly, Colby Van Dam shares his insight on experiencing this sudden change in staff replacement.

“Mr. Searles brings a whole new energy to the program that many of us are thriving off of. Band camp this year a bit different, but [mostly because] of the air quality from the wildfires. Overall it has been fantastic and I’m really enjoying having him as a director,” Van Dam said.  

Through discipline and respect, Searles wants to be a fatherly figure towards his students, in hopes of giving them the best memories possible, both in and out of the classroom. And due to his work schedule and the number of people in marching band, Searles tries to empower students to lead and put in the work themselves.

“I put responsibly in the hands of my staff leaders [students]. I means I try to be here as much as possible but, I still have a job to. You have to work hard to get what you want and you can’t just sit on the side lines, there is going to be a little pain involved and a little suffering,” Searles said.

Searles hopes to lead the band to new heights during their first competition on Oct. 20 at Del Oro.