South’s Most Influential: Erin Kirby

Erin Kirby, Drum Major

From the audience’s perspective, people take for granted the amount of work it takes to lead the band. Drum majors, especially, are relied on for so many different tasks that some just expect it to be as well executed as our own directors. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Drum majoring not only requires utmost focus, but a type of personality that portrays showmanship, musicianship and inspiration. All at the same time. My inspiration comes from my own directors each time they conduct an ensemble here at South.

Being a drum major this year has allowed me to gain a more developed sense of leadership. Let’s flashback to my first rehearsal as a drum major. It was summer, and man oh man, was it hot. Everyone was complaining about the heat in one way or the other. The stench of sweat flooded through the band.

Walking amongst them, I too felt the pressure to complain about the weather. The combination of conducting in front of the band for the first time while enduring the hot weather only led me to panic.

That was when I learned the number one rule: your band will always follow the energy you give them. At that moment, I was overcome with nervousness which only led to an unproductive, shaky rehearsal. That was the day I vowed to keep my anxiousness from presenting itself in front of the band.

Months passed. Senior year was off to a great start. The first football game breezed by as we performed our public marching show.

Next up came the Wheeling Competition. The band could sense my nervousness.  As the center drum major for that competition, I had swarms of butterflies in my stomach.  My peers approached me to ensure I was taking deep breaths.  Breathing in and out was all I could muster as a nervous wreck.

Two words stood out amongst the jumbling of phrases said to me: “Just breathe.” So I did, each time taking in a breath larger than the last.  In that instant, I realized great leadership comes from a calm leader.  Breathing is a key element to leading–a technique I failed to portray at my first rehearsal as drum major.

Through a simple human action, I was able to subside my anxiousness toward the competition and effectively lead the band. With the leadership from my fellow drum majors Megan Heublein and Matt Ley, we were able to place third at the Wheeling Competition. And man, was that a great start to the season.