About Us

The China Spring Cougar Band is an award-winning program, completing its 28th consecutive year of UIL Sweepstakes (First Division in UIL Marching, Concert, and Sight-Reading contests).

       The band is most known for their military marching drill which was established back in 1987 under the direction of Herb Brenner.  The band continues to amaze the crowd with their straight lines, sharp counter-marches, and other precision military maneuvers.  The band has been to the UIL State Marching contest in 1991 (finalist), 1993 (finalist), 1994, 2000, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2012 (finalist), 2016 (finalist), and 2018! In 2016 the China Spring Marching Band appeared in the London New Year's Day Parade and performed in the London Concert Gala.

       Off the field, the China Spring Band program consists of three High School Concert Bands, two Middle School Concert Bands, two High School Jazz Bands, two Middle School Jazz Bands, as well as sixth-grade beginner instrument classes.

      The 2019-2020 Cougar Band is composed of 175 students.  Students are actively involved in individual competition as well as full band.  The directors stress the importance of individual strength by encouraging students to try out for Region bands, Solo and Ensemble, Central Texas Youth Wind Ensemble, Waco Youth Symphony, Baylor Honor Flutes, and International Honor Band



Marc Nichelson

Director of Bands

jnichelson@chinaspringisd.net | website

A graduate of Brownsboro High School, Mr. Nichelson received his Associate of Arts in Music from Tyler Junior College and his Bachelor of Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University intending to pursue a career as a Band Director.


After college, he served as the 7th-grade director for Hallsville ISD. Later he accepted a position at Wortham ISD (a small school in Central Texas), where he spent four years as the Director of Bands and Technology. During his time, the program grew and saw great success both in marching and concert season. Mr. Nichelson currently serves as the Director of Bands for China Spring ISD, where he heads up the Marching Band, directs the Wind Ensemble, the Jazz I ensemble, and teaches AP Music Theory. 


Mr. Nichelson also serves as the ATSSB Region 8 Coordinator and the ATSSB Webmaster. In these roles, he finds that he can give back to an organization that meant so much to him (as a student) and to many of the small school band students he has interacted with throughout his career.


Outside of his teaching career, he currently runs Penson Media Technologies as a side business to his education career, performs with local bands, and plays the piano at his church. Outside of work, he enjoys being outdoors and spending time with his wife Jessica, their son Ben and their two dogs. ​

Rachel Berg

High School Assistant Director

website | rberg@chinaspringisd.net


A graduate of Hallsville High School, Ms. Berg attended Northwestern State University of Louisiana where she graduated magnum cum laude with a bachelor's in Music Education. At NSU Ms. Berg played in many ensembles including the Spirit of Northwestern Marching band, the Wind Ensemble, and Wind Symphony groups. 


After college, Ms. Berg went to work as the assistant band director at Wortham ISD for a year. Outside of work, Ms. Berg likes to visit family, read, and spend time with her dog. In her spare time, Ms. Berg plays with the Waco Community Band to grow in her passion for music. 


Ms. Berg's responsibilities include directing the 6th Grade Beginner Band, the China Spring High School Symphonic Band, and the 8th-grade jazz band. 


Joshua Ready

High School Assistant Director

jready@chinaspringisd.net | website

Mr. Ready is a native to the Waco area and is an alumni of China Spring High School.  The band program at CSHS is where he gained the passion for music and the desire to become a band director, so he set this as a goal for his career.  After graduating high school he went on to receive an Associate of Arts degree from McLennan Community College and a Bachelor of Music from Tarleton State University.


While in college, Mr. Ready served in Kappa Kappa Psi, band service fraternity, where he assisted with many tasks to keep the band program running smoothly.  Also while at Tarleton he had the opportunity to travel to Carnegie Hall and perform a rigorous selection of music with the Tarleton Wind Ensemble.


Outside of work he enjoys spending time with friends and family, partaking in hobbies such as building jigsaw puzzles and playing board games, and being with his wife Jenny and their dog Koda.  Mr. Ready is elated to be returning to the China Spring band program to continue the tradition of excellence it has seen over the past 27 years and looks forward to guiding these students to many more years of success.

Mr. Ready's responsibilities include directing the China Spring High School Concert Band as well as Jazz II.

Mike Loudermilk

Middle School Head Director

website | mloudermilk@chinaspringisd.net

Michael Loudermilk has served as the lead middle school band director at CSISD for the past eleven years. His responsibilities include directing the China Spring Middle School Varsity and Non-Varsity Bands, teaching theory and applied music classes, and beginning french horn and trombone classes.


Before working in China Spring he served as the director at Bosqueville ISD for four years, and prior to that, thirteen years in Waco ISD as Mr. Robert Lee's assistant at University High School (5A). Michael began his teaching career in 1987 in the Pottsville, Arkansas public schools.


He holds a B.M.E degree from Arkansas Tech University where he studied with Dr. Gary Barrow. He was selected for a post in graduate wind conducting with Dr. Hal Cooper, and Orchestral methods and pedagogy with Dr. Patricia Hoover. He earned a Master's Degree from Tarleton State University in school administration in 2004.


He is a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Valley of Waco, and actively supports the work of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.

Ian Mitchell

Middle School Assistant Director

imitchell@chinaspringisd.net | website

Ian L. Mitchell is in his nineteenth year of teaching and his tenth year as Assistant Director at China Spring High School and Middle School. Prior to this position he served for a year as Band and Choral Director at Big Bear Middle School, in Big Bear Lake, California and eight years as Director of Bands at Crane Middle School and surrounding Elementary Schools, in Yuma, Arizona.  Mr. Mitchell became an Associate Faculty Member of Arizona Western College in 2002, Yuma, Arizona, teaching Music Appreciation Classes there for six years prior to moving to China Spring in 2008.


His current primary duties include assisting all concert bands, directing the Middle School Jazz Studies Program, teaching the beginning middle school band, and coaching all low brass classes.


Mr. Mitchell received his Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1999 from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he studied under Richard Blatti, James Akins, and Dr. Jon Woods. While at Ohio State, Mr. Mitchell was a member of The Ohio State University performing and athletic bands, Men’s Glee Club, as well as a member of The Ohio State Marching Band where he had the honor of dotting the “I” in the “Incomparable Script Ohio”.  Mr. Mitchell earned his Master of Music Education degree in 2003 from Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied under Dr. Charles Menghini and Kevin Lepper.


Other Notable performances include; The 1997 Rose Bowl Parade, along with four bowl games which includes Rose Bowl, two Sugar Bowls, and Citrus Bowl while being a member of The Ohio State Marching Band. Mr. Mitchell has also performed at The 1999 The American Choral Directors Association National Conference held in Chicago as a member of The Ohio State Men’s Glee Club and at The 1992 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic held in Chicago, while a member of Lincoln High Gold Band.


He is currently a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, Texas Bandmasters Association, Association of Texas Small School Bands,  National Eagle Scout Association, and is affiliated with Phi Mu Alpha.


Mr. Mitchell is active member of the Boy Scouts of America, being a an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 444 and Cubmaster for Pack 444. Ian and his wonderful supportive wife Roslyn have four fantastic sons: Dylan 14, Jonathan 10, Mason 6, and Ashton 1.