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West High Drum Majors Bring Home Award at Band competition

Ally Knight
West’s three drum majors getting ready to do their salute before the band takes the field.

On Saturday, September 23, our West High Marching band performed at the Linn-Mar High School marching Band competition. Out of the nine Bands that were competing in the 4A division, our Drum Majors Miliagro Gracia, Elijah Buehler and Lydia Palmer were awarded as the top Drum Majors at that competition. Buehler shares that he believes the Band has lots of potential for this season, stating that “last year was a very wonderful year, but this year, I feel we have set ourselves up for success alot more. From the drum major and leadership camps Lydia, Millie, and I took part in, to the band learning new ways on how to overcome the impacts of COVID, I feel this year has so much potential and I’m excited to see where it leads.”

In order to become a Drum Major at West there are certain steps you have to follow. There is a three-step process when becoming a Drum Major. This includes the application, the judging and the interview. “It starts with an application that has about 10 questions on your leadership skills and abilities. After you make it through that level you move on to the conducting portion, which is when you conduct in different patterns and ways in front of the whole band, and they judge you based on the others you are competing with,” Palmer shares. After conducting the band votes for their top picks. Then the candidates must interview with the directors. In the interview, “they ask you any sort of questions and write down your responses to compare to the other candidates. After those three stages, the directors make their decision with an advisory team to select the top three drum majors and announce it a few days after the audition process is over,” she shares.

Many tend to only see the band students when they perform during half-time of football games, but never really understand what it takes to put all that together. People tend to overlook and underestimate what the band has to do to make this all happen. The marching band starts practicing at the start of August, and sometimes sooner while Drum Majors go to a week-long camp in July. Their August practices consisted of a five hour practice for a week straight with some shorter practices scheduled throughout the month. Once school starts, the band has practice every morning starting at 7:10 and continuing through 1st hour. They also have practices every Monday night from 6:00 to 8:30 At times they have practices at the Memorial Stadium after Friday night Football games.

In order to lead the band, there are many traits that Drum Majors need according to Gracia. They need “dedication, a positive mindset, thick skin, and you need to be able to multitask. Many think that being a Drum Major is easy, but it appears that we don’t do as much as the band, however, this is not true. We Drum Majors work double as hard as a normal band student would. Being a Drum Major isn’t just waving your arms to a beat. It is developing relationships with the band, making sure the band has a good attitude, and also reading your directors’ minds, and being one step ahead at all times. Sometimes it is difficult to give your 200% all the time, but it is extremely rewarding to see your band succeed,” she says

There is definitely extra work that comes with being a Drum Major. Buehler shares the work required and how it impacts him. “Being drum major is a lot of leadership. We make sure that everyone is where they need to be and teach kids on how to perform. Our job is predict what the director wants, in and out of rehearsal,  and make it happen. I am very proud to represent our band and I’m proud of the leadership position I’ve been given. I love doing this because it gives alot of students a home here at West, and it gives me one more place to make the biggest and most positive impact I can, while I’m here,” he said.

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About the Contributor
Ally Knight
Ally Knight, Feature and Multimedia Editor
(She/her) Ally Knight is a Senior at West High and this is her second year on the Wahawk Insider staff. Outside of Wahawk Insider, she is on the varsity cheer squad for football and wrestling. You can often see her going on runs with her dog, shopping with friends, or taking a nap!
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