Brandon Lesando knew since 7th grade that he wanted to be a band director; no matter what other career options he explored being a band director always made its way back to his top choice. When Mr. Lesando graduated high school going directly to college was not financially obtainable so he suited up and served our country in the US Navy where he worked on nuclear weapons for 7 years before being Honorably Discharged. Using his GI Bill, Mr. Lesando was able to achieve his dream and receive his Bachelors of Music Education from the University of North Florida (SWOOP!).
Brandon and his wife of 12 years, Katie, live in Overland Park, Kansas. He is the Band Director at Blue Valley Southwest High School where he is in his 4th year teaching. Mr. Lesando credits Ed Protzman as the biggest influence in his career. Mr. Protzman was Brandon’s high school band director and the head director of Southwest when he arrived to be the assistant in 2016. Brandon wanted to be like him when he was younger and since then they have become great friends and colleagues. Brandon will still reach out to Ed for help with daily band director issues and literature selections. Ed’s work ethic and his visible love for teaching young people to love music resonate in Brandon’s teaching to this day.
A typical day for Mr. Lesando starts in the Band Room at 6:00 am to answer emails and get ready for their 7:00 am rehearsal. Their rehearsals spill over into 1st and 2nd-period band classes, Brandon also teaches Music Theory and Jazz Band. He tries to get down to the middle school and help the director when time permits during one of his planning periods or lunch breaks. At the end of the day, he will sit down and go over all of the goals accomplished and then reassess the plan for the next rehearsal.
Brandon thinks his most “Memorable Accomplishment” as a teacher is yet to come, but each time he has come into a new program there is that one performance that ends up being the turning point for the group; where he feels like his students finally get it and that experience catapults the program in a great new direction. Mr. Lesando’s advice for future educators is to “get into as many classrooms as you can and observe as many different teachers that you can.” Brandon says “You won’t like everything you see and not everything will work for your future program, but the goal is to build a large “toolbox” of skills, methods, and techniques that you can apply to the various situations that arise.”
While traveling on the USS Rhode Island, Brandon was going through some tough times deciding on when to leave the Navy and if music was a viable future for me. My Assistant Weapons Officer shared a piece of advice with him and it has become Brandon’s mantra and shares it with his students as they seek their career path. “Find your passion and pursue it and you will always succeed.” Brandon loves sharing his Navy Travel stories with his students, he says they are very funny and it helps lighten the mood when rehearsals get tedious.
Brandon’s wish for his students is that they fall in love with music and the rush of having a great performance. He hopes they see how creating and working together is a unique occurrence, and that they become future advocates for the arts in whatever life they choose to lead.
For his own, superpower wish, Mr. Lesando would love to be able to teleport; stating that his schedule would have so much more time if he would be able to cut down on the commute. Brandon is currently seeking his Masters in Music Education from the University of Colorado – Boulder, so his summer break is limited but in his spare moments, he loves cooking. Brandon says he loves the summertime produce so he tries out new recipes and attempts to perfect others. He enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and messing with the recipes that he thinks will be fun and easy enough to add into their normal dinner rotations.
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