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Pickrell named new WHS band director

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By Bryan Marshall

Mike Pickrell knows filling the shoes of Williamstown Band of Spirit director Bob Gregg will not be easy, but he’s up for the challenge.

The 27-year-old Monticello native has been hired to replace Gregg, who will be retiring after winning five state titles at WHS.

He has spent the past four years as band director at Keller High School in Texas.

“I’m very excited to follow Mr. Gregg,” Pickrell said. “He has created a culture of excellence and high standards.

The success of the program under his watch is extraordinary. Obviously, the pressure to continue this success is high, but I welcome it. I find that pressure a great motivating tool and energizer. I certainly look forward to leading the Williamstown program.”

Pickrell’s interest in music started at an early age.

His father, Gerald Pickrell, taught band for 34 years before retiring at Wayne County High School.

The majority of those years Pickrell’s mom, Kathi, worked as her husband’s assistant.

“Both my parents were band directors so most of my youth was spent attending concerts, contests and ball games,” Pickrell said. “Music was and still is an integral part of my home life.”

At age 12, he started beginner band on French Horn.  

Eventually, Pickrell studied privately with Karin Sehmann at Eastern Kentucky University and became a two-year KMEA All State Band Member at Wayne County High School.

After high school, Pickrell attended EKU to earn his bachelor’s degree in music education.

While at Eastern, he was a member of the University Wind Ensemble all eight semesters and performed with the Orchestra his final four semesters.

Pickrell also was a sectional leader in the Marching Colonels and as a junior won the concerto competition in a horn quartet.

During college, he also marched two seasons with the World Champion Drum Corps, the Cavaliers, from Rosemont, IL.

The Cavaliers became Pickrell’s gateway to Texas, where he earned his master’s in conducting and became a teaching assistant at the University of Houston.

Before earning his master’s, Pickrell accepted the job as director of the Keller High School Band, in Keller, Texas.

“Music is my life passion and I truly enjoy sharing that with students,” he said. “It gives me great joy to see kids grow into musicians through both performance and appreciation. I truly enjoy investing in our students human capitol. Seeing our future generations develop into successful, content, and contributing members of society is truly remarkable." 

Pickrell said he is excited to join the Williamstown family.

He admits the hardest part currently is living 16 hours away when he wishes he could be in Grant County with the students and parents.

It was easy to be attracted to the WHS Band of Spirit program, said Pickrell.

“In an age where fine arts are the first thing cut from budgets, it was immediately obvious the support from the community and school the Williamstown program receives,” he said. “The students’ work ethic and talents are second to none and the parent organization is a strong source of kindness and generosity. Since accepting the position, every person from Williamstown that has contacted me has expressed tremendous support and enthusiasm.”

One fan of Pickrell is Gregg himself, who expressed support during the annual Spring Band Concert.

“I think we’re really fortunate to have this young man,” Gregg said to the crowd. “There are people in the state who have seen him teach and they say he is awesome.”