Bellaire’s got talent

Teachers with musical talents

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Jeffery Waller

The Hometownfreaks were rehearsing for Jester Jamfest in their dorm. Jester Jamfest is a showcase for bands held in the University of Texas courtyard in 1993.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

They are not only teachers specialized in their respective subjects, but share musical ties harnessed in the past to fuel their artistry.

Stemming from different departments and instruments, these teachers hold an affinity for instruments, creating euphonious melodies and treasuring band chemistry.

Wayne Houle –

World History teacher Wayne Houle learned how to play the guitar at 15. He’s played in numerous bands, but is currently in a space rock band, Imperious Leaders.

Besides guitar, Houle can play the bass, harmonica, keyboard, madeline, flute, some percussion and drums. Houle played the harmonica on a Pink Floyd cover album called “Pink Floyd Happy Hour with Mo Pair.”

“What I like about music is improvising,” Houle said. “You’re on a ledge. You might mess up, and you might not. I think the imperfect improvised attitude carries over into the nature of teaching.”

Houle said he enjoys making music with people. One of his fond memories is playing with his friend Steve who passed on.

“He used to play the drums, and back then, we used to play really loud,” Houle said. “I would turn around and have Steve hit the kick drum. The string’s vibrations would hit my guitar, so there’s this breathing thing that happens.”

Dr. Jeffery Waller –

AP Literature teacher Dr. Jeffery Waller created a band in high school named Hometownfreaks with one of his orchestra friends, Jason Garcia.

“We bonded over the fact that we liked the same bands and genre of music,” Waller said. “We thought about making a band since he knew how to play piano and guitar, and I knew how to play the violin. I picked up the bass since someone had to play it.”

Waller is a self-taught bass player. He said playing violin in an orchestra for five years helped him understand playing the bass better.

“The bass notes are the same as violin notes, but in reverse,” Waller said. “I picked it up and started to write my own lines. I’m not saying I’m great, but I’m competent-ish.”

The Hometownfreaks would learn easy Beatles songs, and Waller would try his best to play along. Paul McCartney from the Beatles inspired Waller.

“At first, my playing was a little rudimentary since it was a little more than root notes and tonic notes,” Waller said. “But then I started incorporating scales and arpeggios, so my lines became more musical.”

Waller said that he preferred the process of making music more than performing. He created music through a four track cassette recorder.

“You could be your own band with one of those and there wasn’t the pressure of performing live,” Waller said. “If you mess up you could rewind the tape and do it again instead of embarrassing yourself.”

Since Waller and Garcia went to University of Austin together, they would play at small gigs and coffee shops during the school year.

“At that time, I realized that he had much more talent than I had and I was planning on going to graduate school, so we had to go our separate ways,” Waller said. “But we remained good friends thereafter.”

Waller reunited with his band at Garcia’s 40th birthday party. Garcia’s former girlfriend’s little brother Gerald arranged a reunion with Waller and the drummer to surprise Garcia.

“We spent one afternoon rehearsing the same two songs because me and the drummer’s very both rusty,” Waller said.

Waller’s house caught fire at the beginning of the school year, so most of his belongings, including his guitar, are in storage preventing him from playing. Despite unfortunate events, Waller said he had fond memories of being in a garage band.

“I think it’s unfortunate that a lot of students are over-scheduled with extracurricular activities, and they have to build a resume for college,” Waller said. “I know being in a garage band isn’t the most impressive thing to put on your application, but it was a good experience.”

Juanita Camarillo –

The middle school fine arts requirement guided Juanita Camarillo to pick up the ‘shiny, pretty and nice’ flute, but little did sixth grade Camarillo know she would develop strong friendships with her bandmates and continue playing the flute till her thirties.

Camarillo won city and regional championships during middle school and high school, which led her to receive musical scholarships for Houston Baptist University.

“I had to try out for the scholarship consecutively and received it every year,” Camarillo said. “It was good money, and it wasn’t hard for me to get since I built up my skills since middle school.”

Camarillo and her best friend often play at gigs such as weddings, worship nights, Christmas and Easter programs, but due to Camarillo’s health, she doesn’t play as often anymore.

Although I think my lungs are better, I’ve been scared to try to play it since [COVID-19],” Camarillo said. “It’s actually one of the things I cried about the most when I was sick because I couldn’t play the flute since it’s all about lung capacity.”

Camarillo had two students whose parents forced them to drop out of band due to the time commitment, but Camarillo said it was both sad and wrong.

“When you commit time and energy into something, you develop closer-knit groups and in that case it’s not just a band; it’s a family,” Camarillo said. “Plus, the skills you’re learning like discipline, hard work and being humble carry throughout your life.”