Q/A with Rider Band Director Loy Studer


Alyeska Zamora

Meghan Helton, Reporter

With every new year comes new challenges. Loy Studer, the head director of the Pride of the Raiders Marching Band, is no stranger to this. Now entering his 14th year, The Rider Chronicle sat down with Studer to discuss the arrival of the new band uniforms and his views for the current marching season.


Q: Because the old uniforms were so iconic, how do you think the audience will respond to the new ones?

A: Well, like with anything new, I think there’ll be mixed opinions. In Wichita Falls, everybody has their opinion. Whether it’s their place or not, everybody has an opinion. I think the old-timers will see that it’s a shout-out to the past while still being more modern. For example, the old uniforms had that ‘R’ on them, in the middle of them. And they had the white breast plate on top of the black uniform, so there’s a lot of white. But also, the black version has an ‘R’ on it. But it’s just in a modern way. And you know, moving forward is, for some people, a challenge. So you can pick and choose, either stay in the past or move forward. And we’re going to be progressive and move forward when we get that chance.


Q: You said the band is further along this year than it has been in past years. Why is that?

A: We switched the concepts of how we’re doing things. You know, we used to have a music arranger, and we had a drill writer, and we had a color guard choreographer and they didn’t all necessarily talk to each other. But now, we have a company. We have a team of guys who all work together, so they talk about the production. We have a program designer who coordinates all those things. So, when we have an issue with something not working, it gets it done so that allows us to teach. You know, we’ll have conversations with students and be teachers as opposed to designers and creators. We’re having to problem-solve less. That’s one reason.

The second reason is that the kids are really good. We have a really young group of kids, but they’re here for the right reasons. Which, you know, is one of the benefits of zero hour. Zero hour’s awful, but we don’t get people who are kind of ‘half’ about it. You’re pretty all-in; you all want to succeed if you’re getting up early every day.

The third reason is that we have a great group of parents this year. They’re all very supportive. Most of the kids at Rider didn’t end up here by accident. It was purposeful that they ended up here. And our parents have made things happen. Again, without them, there would be a lot more pressure on the staff. So, when all that stuff is there from the beginning, it helps get things done.


Q: Do you think there’s anything different about this band?

A: Just, in general, the attitudes are way better. We don’t feel entitled; we have seniors that are doing a good job of being seniors… they’re not being selfish, they’re not feeling like people should serve them. They’re the ones that are leading the way, and they’re doing it just by leading by example. The quality of our kids is a ton different than last year. 

The staff, we’re here because we want to see kids succeed. We love our kids, we love Rider High School, we love teaching music. We’re here for that; we’re not here for any other reason. This year’s group kind of gets that I think they realize that we care about them. That doesn’t mean that they’re gonna be happy with us every day, but that’s OK. That’s part of being in a group. You gotta take the good and the bad and work it out.


Q: Do you think the change in later starting times affected the band’s performance?

A: No, I think the attitudes affected how they did. The idea that we’re responsible for how our year goes, and we get to choose how it goes. I think the start times helped with our bodies, just because we went later in the evening, where being outside is a lot better than being outside in the morning. I think it’s a mindset more than anything. I think it’s just everybody deciding, like, ‘OK, yeah, this is up to us. Nobody’s going to do this for us.’


Q: What makes leading the Pride of the Raiders Band so special to you?

A: It’s a privilege. I mean, we talk to the kids about it. There’s a lot of people who came before us. They may not being doing band now. Some of them are 60 and 70 years old now, at this point. But, they put a lot of heart and soul into it, and they set a bunch of traditions and they set a standard of excellence that the rest of us need to live up to and keep up with. Just being a caretaker, being responsible for it, is a big part of it. But Rider’s a special place. I think just being able to work with kids and teenagers, teenagers are pretty awesome. They have lots of spirit energy and humor. that makes it fun. Every day’s a different day. It’s just a lot about Rider High School. I mean, we’re almost 60 years old and there’s still new things. What they did 60 years ago matters because they set a standard. But what’s cool is we get to do it. And next year will be completely different from this year. But every year is different. So, that’s what it’s about.