Home » 'It's not work for me, it's a calling': Edna Karr graduate-turned-band director kicks the energy up a notch – FOX 8 Live WVUE

'It's not work for me, it's a calling': Edna Karr graduate-turned-band director kicks the energy up a notch – FOX 8 Live WVUE

by Arifa Rana

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Since becoming director of the band at his alma mater, Edna Karr High School, Christopher Herrero’s energy and his students’ talent has put the program on the map of powerhouse marching bands.
Herrero’s passion and energy for music has been on full display this Carnival season, with the band marching in several parades with several more appearances planned.
“We’re a very competitive band. We’re always trying to get out there trying to get in the mix with every band. Every time we see a band, we’re competing with them,” Herrero said. “Every time we go under the bridge, that’s that hot spot where that video went viral, you know we try to put on a show whenever we can.”
He’s referring to a recent video tweeted out by Inspire NOLA, which runs Edna Karr.
The video shows the band and Herrero getting hype under a bridge during a recent parade, and has racked up nearly 35,000 views.
“You think football games are intense, that has nothing on the New Orleans band culture,” he said. “They call New Orleans the mecca of marching bands because every city is envious of the great culture we have here in New Orleans.”
A graduate of Jackson State University, Herrero got a degree in music education.
When he graduated, the position of band director was open at Edna Karr. Herrero knew he had to apply.
“I wanted to give back to the city so much that has been given to me. Especially after Katrina, I saw there was a huge decline in everything in the city,” Herrero said. “I walked in the band room the first day, 25 kids in the band. By the end of my first year, I had about 49 or 50 kids. So I doubled the program in one year, and every year we’ve been getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Right now, the Edna Karr band is made up of about 90 kids. Herrero said 75 percent of them are new to band, but are fast at picking up music.
“You could always teach quarter notes and all that stuff, but you got to make it make sense to the kids, make them interested in band,” Herrero said. “Just give them a little something of what they want, give them some of the fundamentals as well, and put it together and you have a great band program.”
And Edna Karr has truly become one of the great marching bands in New Orleans.
In total, Herrero said the band is marching in eight parades this Carnival season. Outside of Carnival, they’ve gained notoriety for their performances at the school football games.
“Pride was something that was instilled in me from my six years at Karr. I try to make sure that these students, the next generation of Cougars, know that pride and feel that pride,” he said.
The school motto at Edna Karr is “Second to None.” The band students truly embody that motto.
“It’s a difference between being cocky and confident. Other people may call us cocky, but we’re not a cocky band, we’re just very confident,” said Jerry Williams III. “It’s hard work. There’s a time and a place for everything, but most of the time we’re having a decent amount of fun in the band room.”
“It’s not just a fancy saying, it’s a mentality. It’s a mindset,” Herrero said. “That’s what I try to impart to my students: be second to none every day of your life. Be the best version of yourself every single day.”
The graduates of Edna Karr’s band program have gone on to play in college bands, some even becoming section leaders or drum leaders.
Herrero said they’ve cultivated such a strong culture around the band at the school, that college band directors think of Edna Karr when looking for future members.
“The same way that football coaches from the SEC recruit from the football team, we have those band directors from Jackson State, Southern, all overcome to Karr and recruit our students cause they know they’re very highly sought after,” he said. “We try to make sure we promote not just music, but all around the whole student. Making sure they know they have opportunities for higher education.”
“Knowing that you’re from Edna Karr, not just the school but knowing that you’re coming from the band, you never know who’s looking,” said Dontez Morgan, a section leader, and band captain.
If you want to catch Edna Karr in their element, they’ll be bringing it home to Algiers, marching as part of the Nomtoc parade. The parade starts at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday.
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