Pouttu’s Muse


The sharp sound of a marching snare drum echoes off the white brick walls. The drumline marches in sync, and silence doesn’t exist. The Lake Ridge band hall is where Andrew Pouttu spends most of his time. However, what sets Pouttu apart from the other percussionists is that he is not one of the marchers on the field. He’s not a member of the drumline, but the Lake Ridge Percussion Director is used to spending lots of time here. His connection to Lake Ridge can be traced back to when he attended the school in 2012, the year the school opened. Little did Pouttu know that, 10 years after the doors opened for the first time, that he’d be back in the band hall every day, but with a different role.

Pouttu originally attended Timberview High School and marched snare with the drumline his first two years of high school, but when he learned his percussion director, Benjamin Scearce, had been hired at Lake Ridge, Pouttu filed for a transfer. While transferring to a whole school seemed like a risky decision to him at the time, Pouttu said now he does not regret the decision because it made getting hired for a teaching position at Lake Ridge even more special. He recognizes how the school has changed since 2012 when there were only 1,600 students, and he feels like the school and the band have improved a lot.

“Transferring was something that I was excited about, but it also came with its challenges. Lake Ridge was a lot smaller than it is now. I felt like my friend group was cut in half because most of us went to Timberview. I felt like I was leaving some friends there and following some of my friends here. Also, when Lake Ridge opened, it wasn’t as diverse as it is now,” said Pouttu.

Pouttu graduated from Lake Ridge in 2014 and continued his education at TCU. However, it wasn’t long before he returned to his alma mater in Mansfield. Pouttu described what it was like being back as well as how the reality of teaching is different from the expectations he had when he first took the job.

“When I took this job, my first day walking back into school, it was crazy how it smelled exactly the same as it did when I was a student,” said Pouttu. “Even some of the teachers that taught me are still here. Ms. Cole was my English teacher at Timberview. The biggest changes I felt have been more personal, like the expectations that I had versus what it’s really like to do this job. You’d be surprised how much of the job truly includes teaching kids. That’s a big part of the job and that’s my favorite part of the job. But there’s a lot more to it. There’s a lot more outside work, scheduling and planning that really don’t have anything to do with being in front of and teaching kids.”

Pouttu knew from his junior year of high school that he wanted to be a teacher, and his passion for music made majoring in music education an easy decision. The way Scearce taught and treated his students inspired him to follow in his footsteps and take the job at Lake Ridge in 2021.

“I knew that I was really talented at music and band and percussion and I wanted to do something within that field, but I don’t think I settled on teaching at that point. I decided that I wanted to be a teacher sometime during my junior year of high school. Seeing the way Mr. Scearce taught and the ways he would connect with his students inspired me to follow in his footsteps,” said Pouttu.

While people generally assume college marching band is more rigorous than high school, Pouttu’s experience marching snare drum at both makes it easy for him to compare the two. High school marching band is much more competitive and taken seriously as they compete to advance to area and state. At TCU, Pouttu felt marching band was more of a social experience. He did not rush to any fraternities when he got to college, so Pouttu feels being on the drumline served as a way for him to make lots of friends before school even started. It was different from his time in high school, but Pouttu liked the larger social aspect of it.

“We have a marching show that we play at football games and then we do exhibitions at different marching contests. People are always surprised to hear me say this, but it’s not as intense, high stakes and serious as high school band. There are talented kids at TCU. They’re musicians. They’re fantastic. But we meet twice a week for an hour and a half, whereas here we have band in the summer eight hours a day and when school starts we have an after-school band. We strive here to be excellent at everything that we do. At TCU, it’s much more of a social experience, ” said Pouttu.

The experiences Pouttu had from high school to college graduation are still with him today. While at TCU, he got involved in teaching to see if that was something he really wanted to do long term. Scearce still has the largest impact on the road he’s taken in life, but every time Pouttu picks up his drumsticks for an Alamo Bowl performance, high school summer job or practice session, he was only proving his dedication to music.

“When I was in college, I started getting a lot of summer gigs to go tech at high schools in the area. That was something I would try to do to get experience in the field and also make money because I was broke like most kids in college. I like to think every experience I had helped shape who I am and where I am today. I had a lot of fantastic teachers over the course of my time at TCU. This isn’t TCU, but still, I feel like a lot of how I teach and why I teach a certain way is truly because of my teachers and Mr. Scearce,” said Pouttu

Pouttu is able to recognize how it’s not easy to continue music after high school. He loves teaching and wants his students to be successful, so he makes sure he works on getting students out of their comfort zone and preparing them for situations that will improve their playing and confidence. He is a strong believer that practice and performing for others makes a better musician.

“Practice, sight read and put yourself in any performance situation that you can and get used to that because that’s something that even the most talented kids sometimes struggle with. Nothing that you ever play alone in a practice room feels quite as comfortable when you put that in front of an audience,” said Pouttu. “Expose yourself to as many different ensemble settings and music styles to broaden your horizons. I think for anyone who wants to truly major in music, you need to focus on details, but you need to be patient. Be patient with how you practice, be fervent with your practice, and practice daily.”