Drum majors march into new season

CONDUCTING WITH CONFIDENCE: Sustaining a steady tempo for the marching band, Drum Major Adam Ley conducts the musicians during the show. Ley, along with the other drum majors, seniors Matt Grinde and Lauren Yep, led the halftime performance during a home football game.

Ashley Clark

CONDUCTING WITH CONFIDENCE: Sustaining a steady tempo for the marching band, Drum Major Adam Ley conducts the musicians during the show. Ley, along with the other drum majors, seniors Matt Grinde and Lauren Yep, led the halftime performance during a home football game.

John Park, staff writer

During a marching band performance, the audience may have their eyes fixated on the impressive patterns that the band is making on the field. But all of the band members have their eyes set on one of three conductors that have led them throughout the season: the drum majors. The 2015-2016 GBS Marching Band drum majors are seniors Matt Grinde, Adam Ley and Lauren Yep.

According to Aaron Wojcik, assistant band director,  drum majors are chosen through a process consisting of an interview and an audition that is watched by all of the members of the band. Afterwards, the students select their leaders for the next year through an online vote.

“If you could choose who your leader is going to be, the idea of it is that you are going to be more willing to follow that person’s lead,” Wojcik said.

According to Yep, a drum major’s job consists of setting up the field before rehearsal, leading warm ups, conducting, and helping the sections make their forms on the field. According to Band Director Greg Wojcik, the drum majors are given full control during rehearsals.

“When they step on the field, they are in charge,” Greg said. “We’re trying to move it from my voice being heard on the megaphone to the drum major on the podium.”

Aaron believes that this encourages the idea that band is a “student-run organization.” In addition to the technical aspect of leading the band, Grinde says that the drum majors have to face the challenge of inspiring everyone to work hard each rehearsal.

“The biggest challenge I think is just motivating every person in the band, because there’s 150 kids, and getting every single one to buy into the program is definitely difficult,” Grinde said.

In order to motivate, Yep understands that everyone learns in different ways and needs different kinds of encouragement and criticism. Yep realizes that trying to please everyone and encouraging them is very difficult. However, according to Ley, the drum majors attended a leadership camp called The George Parks Drum Major Academy over the summer, which helped them overcome the challenges of being leaders.

“[The camp] gave me a new perspective on how to teach people and how to interact with new students who were learning how to march,” Ley said.

According to Grinde, around 80 drum majors from different high schools gathered to learn how to lead bands and listen to lectures and speeches. One thing that Yep realized through the camp was that she is not just a drum major when she is on the podium.

“Everyone in band, [looks at me and] they see me as their drum major, so I have to be presentable all the time, not just during band,” Yep said.

The drum majors have the responsibility of memorizing the music, conducting in tempo and leading the band. According to Ley, all of their hard work is paid off when they step up onto the podium and conduct the show.

“Going up on the podium for the first time, there’s nothing that you can compare that to,” Ley said. “Everything sort of depends on you. It’s uncomfortable, but very empowering.”

Grinde, who conducted at the first football game, also experienced this feeling of empowerment. According to Grinde, one reason he became a drum major was to be a role model to the newer band members.

“We got to the beginning of ‘Festive Overture’, and the first downbeat when the trumpets play is a big point in the show, and that was just a really awesome sound,” Grinde said. “[It felt] like [I was] in charge of that.”

According to Grinde, he claims responsibility  over the band’s motivation and focus. Grinde also says, as a leader, he feels central to energy and emotion of the band’s performance during games and competitions when he is up on the podium.

“The emotions that I’m showing is heard through the music,” Grinde said. “So I have to feel the [band’s energy] from my conducting and give them the energy to play music.”

According to sophomore Connor Yoon, the three have met the expectations set by the band and its directors.

“They have to be fairly intertwined with music [and] know the ins and outs of notes,” Yoon said. “They also have to have an outstanding personality.”

Pit captain Jacob Just also worked with the drum majors. According to Just, he notices the current drum majors have learned from their predecessors and used it for improvement.

“It’s really cool to see how the kids our age, kids I’ve known for four years, are running things,” Just said. “[It’s interesting] how they’re doing it and incorporating all the things that the drum majors did in years prior, putting it into their leadership styles.”

Although each drum major in the past had their own strengths and weaknesses that impacted the performance of the band, Just says this year’s drum majors are all strong.

“Usually drum majors can be classified [into categories],” Just said. “There’s maybe a quiet one, the head leader and the other one kind of varies. But this year, I think they’re all pretty solid; they’re all doing a really good job.”

According to  Yep, finishing the show for the first time was a very memorable part of the season. At the beginning of the season, Yep was nervous because there were different parts that she couldn’t see coming together.

“Finishing the show was the best feeling ever, because you realize that everyone’s hard work has finally paid off, and you could see a finished product,” Yep said.