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Waller read music before words

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Kim Waller came to the Brewton area in 1979 and today she directs the band at W.S. Neal High School and has been doing so for the past 10 years.
It's not an easy job for band members, or the band director, as most of their summer and fall practice takes place in the hottest weather. Football players face the same problem every year when it is time to get out on the field and get their act together.
When Waller directs her students, she speaks from years of also playing an instrument in a band. She grew up playing music, and in fact could read musical notes before she could read words.
She credits her band director in high school as having given her the desire to stick with her music and it has served her well over the past 10 years.
The W.S. Neal High School band's main duty during the football season is to play during the game and at halftime. They began practice during the first week in August and already had their halftime show worked out, which is done months in advance. After football season is over, the band turns its efforts toward contests and concerts that take place over the rest of the school year. Then there are the special events that the band takes on, such as Christmas and the Spring Concert.
Waller lived for a while in Evergreen when she was a child. Her father was from Evergreen and her mother from Andalusia. In 1979 the family moved to Brewton because of the school system. Waller attended the Brewton City School System and was a member of the Brewton Middle School Choir. She began playing the flute when she was in the fifth grade, even though the Brewton Middle School band director told her that she was not suited for that instrument.
Waller graduated from T.R. Miller High School in 1988 and earned music scholarships to Troy State University. She auditioned for the symphony band and made it.
She graduated from college in 1993 and did her student teaching at Daleville High School. She began her teaching and band directing at Frisco City in grades five through 12. At the same time she went back to college and earned a graduate degree in instrumental music education in 1995, the same year she got the job at W.S. Neal High School.
Waller was married in 1998 to John Smith. He is from Pensacola and is working on his degree at the University of West Florida. The Smith family now includes Noah, who was born February 17, 2004.
Waller said that her life has changed dramatically since Noah entered the picture and she doesn't have a lot of free time. But when she can spare a few minutes she loves to read and travel. She is active in First Presbyterian Church where she sings in the choir.
Waller is very busy with school, the band and a new baby, but somehow she is making it all work.