Directors

Kevin Ownby

Director of Bands and Percussion Specialist

Kevin Ownby is the Director of Bands and Percussion Specialist at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Ownby has been a pillar of the Oak Mountain community since the high school opened in the 1999-2000 school year. Prior to becoming Director of Bands in 2012, Mr. Ownby was the Associate Director of Bands and Percussion Specialist for eight years. His responsibilities as Director of Bands include design and instruction of the marching band show, as well as conducting the Wind Ensemble, Jazz A, Percussion Ensembles, and Marching Battery and Front Ensemble.

Under his leadership, Mr. Ownby’s bands have received numerous special invitations to and superior ratings at a variety of music contests and festivals. His bands were invited to perform at the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference in 2012 and 2019 and 2022.  Mr. Ownby conducted ensembles at Carnegie Hall (2010 and 2015), CBDNA Southern Conference (2014), and the Music For All National Band Festival (2016). Mr. Ownby’s bands have received first place awards at the Dixie Classic Grand National Adjudicators Festival (2013), the Smoky Mountain Music Festival (2019), and Festival Disney (2012 and 2017). In 2016, the Oak Mountain Wind Ensemble was selected as a “Featured Ensemble” at the Music for All National Band Festival and at the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference in January 2017. The Spirit of Cahaba Marching Band performed in the National Cherry Blossom Parade (2018), as well as parades at Walt Disney World's EPCOT (2017) and Magic Kingdom (2020). In the fall of 2007, the OMHS Percussion Ensemble performed a showcase concert at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and won the prestigious Concert Chamber Percussion Ensemble Competition in 2014. In 2016, the Percussion Ensemble performed at the Sandy Feldstein Percussion Festival.

Mr. Ownby was named “Outstanding Young Band Director of the Year” by Phi Beta Mu in 2019

Mr. Ownby began his teaching career in 1997 under his long-time mentor and friend, Mr. Jim Duren, founding director of Oak Mountain High School Bands.

Since Mr. Ownby began teaching at Oak Mountain High School, he has served as supervising teacher and mentor for many interning music educators.

In addition to his responsibilities and work at OMHS, Mr. Ownby is a popular clinician and adjudicator. He served on the Alabama All-State Percussion Committee in 2020, and was the Percussion Coordinator for the Red Band. Mr. Ownby has performed in numerous percussion, wind, orchestral, and church ensembles for the past 25 years. He served as Principal Timpanist for the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and Percussionist for Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra from 2000-2003.

Mr. Ownby maintains a private studio consisting of students age 8 through college music majors, offering lessons in all areas of percussion, including orchestral and marching percussion, drumset, and mallets.

Mr. Ownby is the man behind the YouTube viral drum line sensation: Jig 2.

Mr. Ownby is a graduate of Austin High School in Decatur, AL. He graduated from Samford University with a Bachelors degree in Music Education and from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Masters degree in Percussion Performance. Mr. Ownby is a member of the Shelby County Band Director’s Association, Alabama Bandmasters Association, National Association for Music Education, National Band Association, and the Percussive Arts Society.

Mr. Ownby and his wife Laura met in middle school band. They have four daughters. Kayla and twins Leigha and Kara are current members of the Oak Mountain Band program (oboe/English horn/snare, bassoon/upright bass, and clarinet, respectively), and Livia can’t wait for her turn to join the OMHS Band. Laura and Kevin are founders and owners of The Drop Stop and Platinum Brand Partners with Young Living Essential Oils. In their free time, the Ownby family enjoys card games, good food, and learning to play new instruments. 

Travis Bender

AMEA President-Elect; Fine Arts Department Chair; Associate Director of Bands

Dr. Travis Bender is the Fine Arts Department Chair and Associate Director of Bands at Oak Mountain High School. He currently serves as the President-Elect of AMEA (Alabama Music Educators Association). In 2019, Dr. Bender was named Oak Mountain's "Teacher of the Year." Prior to joining the OMHS faculty, he served as Director of Bands at Liberty Park Middle School, where he was named “Teacher of the Year” in 2011. His duties at OMHS include teaching the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band B, Marching Band, Chamber Music, and Band Techniques. Dr. Bender has written the marching band drill and co-arranged the music for Oak Mountain's "Spirit of Cahaba" Marching Band since 2014.

Dr. Bender is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in music education. While attending UA, he served as a drum major of the “Million Dollar Band” and as conductor of The Tuscaloosa Winds, a community band for the western Alabama region. In addition to his conducting capacities, Dr. Bender also performed extensively as the pianist for the Alabama Wind Ensemble for six years and as trombonist for the Symphonic Band and various pep bands. His professional affiliations include NAfME, ABA, NBA, and the music honorary, Pi Kappa Lambda.

Under his leadership, Dr. Bender’s bands have consistently received superior ratings at contests and festivals. His bands were invited to perform at the Alabama Music Educators Association Conference in 2012 and 2019.  He has also conducted ensembles at the CBDNA Southern Conference (2014), Carnegie Hall (2015), and the Music For All National Band Festival (2016).  Dr. Bender's bands have received first place awards at the Dixie Classic Grand National Adjudicators Festival (2013), the Smoky Mountain Music Festival (2019), and Festival Disney (2012 and 2017).  He has coordinated the Oak Mountain "Spirit of Cahaba" Marching Band performances in the National Cherry Blossom Parade (2018) as well as parades at Walt Disney World's EPCOT (2017) and Magic Kingdom (2020).  Dr. Bender has presented sessions at the 2014 and 2016 AMEA conferences, the 2018 MSERA conference, and the 2021 ABA Summer Conference.

In addition to music instruction, Dr. Bender has a strong interest in student and teacher leadership as well as music advocacy. He holds a second Masters degree, an Educational Specialist degree, and a doctorate of education in Educational Leadership from Samford University.

Beyond teaching, Dr. Bender is actively involved as an elder at Crossbridge Church and loves serving as the VBS Worship Leader each year. He currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, Krista, a fifth grade teacher at Oak Mountain Intermediate School. They have one daughter, Madison, and one son, Matthew.

Heather Holmes

Director of Middle School Bands

Heather Holmes has been teaching for 20 years and currently serves at Director of Bands at Oak Mountain Middle School. Mrs. Holmes came to OMMS in 2006. During her time at OMMS, the bands have consistently performed at a high level and received regular superior ratings. During the school day, Mrs. Holmes teaches Beginner Band, Symphonic Band, Concert Band and Advanced Band.

Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Holmes serves as Secretary for the Shelby County Band Directors Association and is a member of the School Leadership Team at OMMS.

In addition to teaching, she sings as a choir and praise team member at First Baptist Church in Pelham.

Mrs. Holmes received her Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Alabama. She is currently pursuing National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Music. Prior to her appointment at Oak Mountain Middle School, she served as the band director at her alma mater, Brooks High School, for five years.

Her professional affiliations include the National Association for Music Education, Alabama Music Educators Association, Alabama Bandmasters Association, and Sigma Alpha Iota.

Mrs. Holmes resides in Birmingham with her husband, Jason, and their two children, Ella and William. She is an avid coffee drinker and enjoys spending time with her family.

Chanse Nelson

Associate Director of Middle School Bands, Assistant Director of High School Bands

Chanse Nelson has been working with the Oak Mountain Bands since 2014. He began his work with the Spirit of Cahaba Marching Band and then was brought on as the percussion specialist at Oak Mountain Middle School in 2016. Mr. Nelson has now been the Associate Director of Bands at OMMS and Assistant Director of Bands at OMHS since 2019. Prior to his current role, Mr. Nelson served as the percussion specialist at Thompson Middle School, Leeds Middle School, and Helena High School. He holds a private studio of approximately 20 students who compete at the highest levels in the state.

Mr. Nelson received both his Bachelor of Music Degree in Percussion Performance and Master of Music Education Degree from Samford University. He is currently finishing an MBA at LSU Shreveport, as well as his certification in Instructional Leadership at the University of West Alabama.

When not teaching Mr. Nelson can often be found gigging in the greater Birmingham area. He has played for artists such as the Celtic Women, The Temptations, Bo Bice, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and Yolanda Adams.

Mr. Nelson is a member of NAfME, the Percussive Arts Society, and Pi Kappa Lambda.