misd logoORCHESTRA


Megan Womack knew the challenges she faced when she accepted the job of becoming Marshall ISD’s new orchestra program director two years ago. As a former member of the MISD orchestra, she was the perfect fit to rebuild a program that had fallen on hard times in both participation and overall quality.

There are basically two ways to rebuild any program, anywhere. You can come in and try to continue doing things the same way and hope for better results, or you can lean on patience and accept the fact that some things take time.

Womack chose the latter, and although the results aren’t eye-popping yet in terms of ratings or awards, there is no doubt that her top two goals – increasing numbers and steady improvement – have been accomplished in her first two years back in Marshall.

“This year’s beginners and junior high students are learning so much, so quickly. They are light years ahead of where we were as a program last year,” said Womack, a 2010 graduate of Marshall High School who earned a Bachelor’s in Music Education from Northwestern State University and jumped at the chance to begin her career back where it started.

Like other fine arts programs such as band and choir, MISD students can begin taking orchestra in sixth grade. Prior to this year, orchestra instructors divided their time between four different campuses while teaching students at Marshall High School, Marshall Junior High School and the old Price T. Young and Sam Houston Middle Schools.

The move to a brand-new Marshall Junior High this year, which now includes students in grades 6-8, gives Womack and other fine arts directors more classroom time and more opportunities for instruction with their respective students. The orchestra program saw immediate dividends this year with an increase in numbers: of the 52 students in the program from grades 6-12, 32 of them, or 62 percent, are in grades 6-8.

There was a slight improvement in contest scores for Womack’s junior high ensemble, but the most important part of the year was just the growth and improvement. Marshall Orchestras hosted its own Solo and Ensemble contest this year in the new junior high, which allowed junior high students to compete. Every MJHS student who competed earned a Superior rating at the contest.

Womack only expects the numbers to climb even more positively in year three, when a new beginners class of sixth graders will join those students already in the program at MJHS and MHS.

“Maverick Orchestras are in a building season and building from the beginners all the way to the top,” she said. “There are great things in store for our Orchestra program.”