You see them standing in front of the band at every Friday night football game, waving their arms to the rhythm of the music. You hear the 100 plus instruments they’re leading on the field while you rush into school at 7:38 a.m. You sing at the top of your lungs to the school song that they conduct at nearly every east-related event.
Senior Matt Lindboe, senior Xinyi He and junior Jessie Peterson are the SME band’s drum majors.
The duty of the drum majors is to lead the band. They teach marching techniques, conduct the band during performances and are generally “mini band directors”, according to band director Alex Toepfer.
“It’s like having three other teachers on the field,” Toepfer said. “The kids kind of buy-in when they see their peers, kids they respect, doing the teaching on the field.”
Matt tried out to be drum major for the first time at the end of his freshman year. Although he knew his chances at making it were very slim, he figured that the audition would be a good way to show his interest in the position for the future. After a second audition at the end of his sophomore year, Matt made the cut.
“My very first football game I ever conducted, I got up on that really tall podium and realized that I have these 100 people looking to me for direction and I am in complete control of this ensemble,” said Matt. “You get more used to leading the band, but that little adrenaline rush never goes away.”
Though this is Matt’s second year as a drum major, he believes that there is always something he can improve on.
“One of the most useful things is practicing conducting in front of a mirror and recording myself to make sure I don’t look like an idiot,” Matt said. “I also have to practice yelling, which my parents laughed at first, and then quickly got tired of it.”
Xinyi was an assistant drum major her junior year but is looking forward to being a head drum major for her senior year.
“Since I’ve been a section leader and assistant drum major in the past, people often wonder what my leadership role this year is,” Xinyi said. “Also because I’m really short, I’m often mistaken as a freshman. But I cannot wait to lead out on the field this year.”
This is Jessie’s first year as a drum major. So far, she has been involved in a lot of behind the scenes work. For a week over the summer, Jessie spent five hours each day cleaning out the band lockers and sorting jazz music, prepping the room for the band to utilize.
“I think I’m most excited to look out at the band during a festival and see the whole show so neat and polished,” Jessie said.
The three majors attended a drum-major-specific camp in Fayetteville, Arkansas last June. Over the five days they were there, the drum majors learned the importance of being supportive leaders and cheering for their opponents.
“We were surrounded by drum majors who were leading bands of 400 back home,” said Xinyi, “and others who were leading just 50 kids.”
“Yeah, but in the end, especially in music,” Matt says, “we’re all promoting the same things.”
Though the drum majors are often responsible for setting formations on the field and teaching different marching techniques, it is equally important that they’re also there to be some of the biggest supporters of the band. Whether it’s giving an old-fashioned pat on the back after a tough rehearsal or keeping a positive attitude while parading the turf field on a ninety-degree day, Matt, Xinyi and Jessie are willing to do it all.