DAVID WILLSON – DIRECTOR OF BANDS
David Willson has been the director of bands the University of Mississippi since 1990. Under his leadership the band has developed into a truly outstanding university band and has doubled in membership. A Jackson, MS native who attended Provine High School and the University of Mississippi, Mr. Willson has directed bands in Mississippi at Independence, Columbus and Clinton. His bands have consistently won awards at the state and national level. Mr. Willson was awarded the A.S.B.D.A. Outstanding Young Band Director Award in 1985 and in 1990 the Mississippi Bandmasters Outstanding Band Director of the Year. Willson worked on the Mississippi Lions All-State Band Staff five times including serving as head director in 1995 when the All-State Band won the international parade in Seoul, Korea. He has served as president of the Mississippi Bandmasters, Mississippi Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Mu, the state chair of C.B.D.N.A., and served four years on the N.F.I.M.A. national board. He is now currently serving as the International President of Phi Beta Mu. Willson is active nationally as a conductor, adjudicator and speaker. Mr. Willson conducts the UM Wind Ensemble and instructs music education and various courses within the music department. His “Band Calisthenics” and “Starting Beginning Bands” books are used extensively throughout the Mid-South. Mr. Willson was the 2005-2006 recipient of the Frist award for outstanding service to students and is the 2006-2007 recipient of the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award for the University of Mississippi.
RANDY DALE – ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF BANDS, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETIC BANDS
Randy Dale is the Director of Athletic Bands, Conductor of the UM Symphonic Band, and is responsible for all on-line communications for the Ole Miss Band. Mr. Dale also teaches courses within the music department, including Instrumental Arranging, Percussion Methods, and Fundamentals of Conducting.
Mr. Dale earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Mississippi in 2001. He served with the Ole Miss Band as a graduate assistant for one year before becoming the Director of Bands at Northpoint Christian School (NCS), formerly known as Southern Baptist Educational Center (SBEC) in Southaven, Mississippi in 2002. Mr. Dale continued studying through the University of Mississippi to earn his Master’s degree in Music Education in 2005. He is a proficient music arranger for Marching and Concert Bands, and arranges for band programs throughout the mid-south area. Mr. Dale serves as an adjudicator for marching band competitions and indoor percussion competitions throughout Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. He holds memberships in The Mississippi Bandmasters Association, The College Band Directors National Association, The Music Educators National Conference, The Percussive Arts Society, Pi Kappa Lambda, and Phi Beta Mu.
In eight years as the Director of Bands at NCS, Mr. Dale was able to produce outstanding results that were unprecedented for the program. Under his direction the band tripled in size and won numerous awards and superior ratings at marching contests throughout Mississippi and Tennessee. Mr. Dale has produced students that have made the Mississippi Lions All-State Band and who have participated in World Class drum and bugle corps. In 2005 Mr. Dale was awarded SBEC Teacher of the Year by the Staff and Administration.
A native of Irvine, California, Mel Morse earned a bachelor’s (1998) and master’s (2001) degree in music education fro the University of Mississippi. During his time at Ole Miss, he served as drum major for the Pride of the South Marching Band for three years and as a graduate assistant for one year. For twenty-two years, Mr. Morse directed band programs throughout Mississippi in Houston, Lewisburg, and Oxford. His bands have consistently seen unparalleled growth in band membership and the number of students selected for the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. Under his direction, the bands demonstrated a high level of excellence on both the marching field and concert stage, including winning three Mississippi State Marching Championships, a Mississippi Indoor Association Wind Championship, Sweepstakes, and repeatedly receiving all-superior ratings.
Mr. Morse is the 2002 recipient of the A.E. McClain award, given to the most outstanding young band director in Mississippi. He worked on the Mississippi Lions All-State Band staff twice, including serving as head director in 2011 when the band won the international championship in Seattle, Washington. Currently an active member of the Mississippi Bandmasters Association, Northeast Mississippi Band Directors Association, Phi Beta Mu, and the United States Band Directors Association, he has served as president of the Mississippi Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Mu and the Northeast Mississippi and I-55 Band Directors Associations. Mr. Morse is an active adjudicator and clinician throughout the Southeastern United States.
UM BAND GRADUATE ASSISTANTS
Catherine Adams – Saltillo, MS
Catherine is a first-year graduate student. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Mississippi in May of 2021. During her time at Ole Miss, she played trumpet with the Pride of the South, the UM Wind Ensemble, the Trumpet Ensemble, the University Band, and the Ole Miss Basketball Pep Band. She served as drum major for the Pride of the South in 2019 and 2020. She was a member of the Women’s Glee Choir, University Choir, and served as treasurer for Sigma Alpha Iota. In 2021, Catherine received the Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Music, the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Instrumental Music Education, and the Sigma Alpha Iota Scholastic Award from the Department of Music. Catherine completed her student teaching at Lewisburg High School and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Education.
Jessica Smith – Madison, MS
Jessica Googe received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Mississippi in May 2020. During her time at Ole Miss, Jessica played clarinet with the Pride of the South Marching Band, the UM Wind Ensemble, and the LOU Symphony Orchestra. She also served as Vice President for Sigma Phi Lambda. She completed her student teaching at Pontotoc High School. Jessica is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Education.
Brandon Mitchell – Rockwall, TX
Brandon Mitchell received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in May of 2020 from the University of Mississippi. During his time at Ole Miss, Brandon played trumpet in the UM Wind Ensemble, the LOU Orchestra, the Collegians Jazz Band, the Ole Miss Basketball Pep Band, and the Pride of the South Marching Band. Brandon completed his student teaching at Hernando High School and was inducted Into the Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society in the spring of 2020. Brandon is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Education.
Raven Thompson – Coldwater, MS
Raven is a first-year graduate student at Ole Miss. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Mississippi in 2017. During her time at Ole Miss, Raven played trumpet in the LOU Symphony Orchestra, the UM Wind Ensemble, the Pride of the South Marching Band, and the Collegians Jazz Band. She also served as treasurer of the Alpha Omega chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota. After completing her undergraduate education, Raven taught middle school band in the Tupelo Public School District for three years, where her students earned superior ratings in concert and sight-reading evaluations. Raven is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Education.
Administrative Assistant – Kristi Boggan
Marching Percussion Instructors – Mason Atkins, Gabby Pestana
Color Guard Instructor – JJ Curry
Rebelettes Dance Team Coach – Rachel Levetzow