Clark Atlanta University has named Tomisha Brock its first female band director
Brock ‘wants to be an advocate for female band directors nationwide’
This college football season, educator and accomplished director Tomisha Brock will be storming the field, directing Clark Atlanta University’s (CAU) Mighty Marching Panthers band to bring the noise and the funk.
At 35, Brock is CAU’s first female band director and one of five women directing college band programs nationwide. The announcement came early in June, and in Brock’s first year at CAU she’s inherited a program with fewer than a dozen students. She’s launched an aggressive recruiting campaign, complete with scholarships, in hopes of growing the band to at least 65 members by the fall.
A native of Smithfield, Virginia, Brock has directed bands at the high school and college levels. Before coming to Clark, she served as associate director of bands at Mississippi Valley State University. Before that, she was director of university bands at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.
In 2016, Brock was named Spectacular Magazine‘s Woman of the Year in the education category. In October 2013, she was honored by the Northeastern North Carolina chapter of the National Council of Negro Women. Brock earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Virginia State University, a master’s degree from Norfolk State University and a doctorate at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
The Undefeated caught up with Brock recently to talk about what she’s up to at CAU. The Mighty Marching Panthers’ mantra this year is “Watch out – The Rebirth.”
Were you in the band in high school?
I started playing clarinet at 10 years old. I played in the marching band throughout high school. I was active in concert and marching band in college at Virginia State University. I was the section leader for 3½ years.
How does music education help young people?
It’s extremely important that music is a part of everyone’s education — it’s basic education. Music is important for having critical thinking skills. It helps to make you a total person. It helps you in terms of being able to focus and concentrate. For those students who have a hard time expressing themselves, music gives them an opportunity to do so free from judgment, because there is no right or wrong way to play music.
Since you are recruiting, what do you look for in students?
I look for students who are dedicated and dependable. They don’t have to be the best students, just students who are academically sound. We’ll make sure they keep their grades up. They have to be admitted to Clark Atlanta University or one of our partnering community colleges.
What’s unique about the HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) band experience?
There’s no other experience like it, being able to play the latest songs on the radio. The hype surrounding an HBCU program draws students. We play R&B, rap, classical, rock, traditional, gospel, you name it. If it’s on the radio, we are going to play it.
The movie Drumline was modeled from Clark Atlanta’s band. Are you a fan of the movie?
Drumline helped me to recruit on a high school level. The energy surrounding the movie helped to revitalize band programs nationwide.
What do you bring to the job of band director?
I hope to bring the nurturing concept. The family concept. I’m the first female in the conference [Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference]. There’s a lot of pressure, but I’m excited about the opportunity. My creativity and organizational skills will set me apart from my counterparts.
Definitely look for great things from us. I want to be an advocate for female band directors nationwide.