Steve Moreland

Director of Fine Arts
St. Michael's Catholic Academy
Austin, Texas

If you thought that the music program at a parochial school like St. Michael’s Catholic Academy would solely be focused on traditional and classical music, you would be wrong. St. Michael’s uses popular music education as its primary curriculum — the only school in Texas to do so — thanks in large part to Steve Moreland.

According to one of his “40 Under 40” nomination letters, a student wrote, “Just imagine ‘School of Rock,’ but 10 times better” in describing the program Moreland has created and implemented. The Modern Band Lab course, which was developed in collaboration with a nonprofit organization, is “reimaging what high school music education can look like,” Moreland said. The lab involves nine student bands, and one of its more ambitious goals is to create a student-run record label. “Students learn how to take an idea from conception and work all the way through to distribution — the ultimate project-management lesson,” he said. “Our students have been working on original music since January 2019, and they have formed the executive teams for the label and are gearing up for the official launch this spring.”   

St. Michael’s has numerous bands that students can join including Praise Band that perform at chapel services, extracurricular pop/rock/country CruBands (or Crusader Bands) that can be seen at football games and pep rallies, Drumline, Varsity Symphony that fuses popular music and technology, and Tech Crew that handles the sound and recording equipment.

St. Michael’s also has a Music Leadership Team of 10 to 15 students that help plan, organize and host on-campus concerts.

One of his students wrote, “Mr. Moreland pushes us to be not only better musicians, but better students and better people.”

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