2017 Senior SpotLight


Carlos Hernandez-Meza

Garey High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in music program?: Assistant drum major, band president, first chair trombone, and trombone section leader

What are your post-high school plans?: My post high school plan is to become a U.S Marine. I plan on serving 20 years. I yearn to join the band as it has always been a symbol of strength and beauty to me.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I love almond serving sizes.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I'm very fond of different languages. I want to expand my knowledge of different languages after I graduate high school. Traveling while in the Marine Corps will definitely benefit this aspiration.

Describe your first competition experience: To be completely honest, I don't remember anything about my first competition besides being scared out of my mind.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: I would have to say my favorite memory as a band member was my freshman year's extravaganza concert. Everything felt like such a relief, because all the hard work paid off. Although there were some blemishes and imperfections here and there, I felt it couldn't have been any better.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major made a difference in my life by showing me you actually you have to work at something if you want to succeed. My whole life I was used to passing by or excelling while putting minimal effort. Being a drum major terminated that sort of mentality.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Don't fear adversity. Don't fear failure. Confronting them is inevitable. Both of these things are necessary for growth.


Joseph Valdez

Chino High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in music program?: Head parade drum major

What are your post-high school plans?: Following graduation, I plan to attend Cal State San Bernardino and major in Business with a concentration in Finance. I would later like to pursue higher education to greater specialize in my field.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? Many may not know that I had learned and kept spinning a secret until about two weeks before drum major tryouts at my school.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Outside of being a drum major, I enjoy traveling, camping, comedy, and love spending time with family and friends.

Describe your first competition experience: The first experience I had was me freaking out, shaking like crazy with nerves at the 2015 Loara Band Review. Although, my first DMSC competition was a greater experience to see Chino High do solo competitions for the first time.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: Being able to travel to Hawaii and Florida with my close friends and perform along the beach and at Disney World.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has opened my eyes to the positive aspects of leadership and truly making an impact on the lives of individuals to make them more successful.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Create your own legacy and let others learn from your mistakes to better future generations.


George Vazquez

School: Ontario High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in music program?: Assistant drum major (junior year), trumpet section leader, and lead trumpet in jazz band

What are your post-high school plans?: My plan for the future is to study and get a degree in architecture.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I recently learned how to solve a rubix cube. Nothing is impossible!

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I enjoy going to theme parks. The thrill of going on roller coasters or an amusement park is really exciting.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition experience was pretty exciting, I have seen my friends compete, so being able to compete myself has brought a different experience to my senior year. One of the things that shocked me was seeing how supportive each drum major was. Being able to see drum majors grouping up at the end of the finish line to salute and congratulate the drum major for their performance shows how much your fellow drum majors want you to succeed.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a drum major was when my music director let me conduct “Phantom of the Opera” for our final concert.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone by being a leader or conductor, rather than being a musician in the band.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Whenever you want to pursue, anything always give it your best shot and keep your head up. Anything is possible as a drum major.


Matthew Ciacchella

Riverside King High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in music program: Head drum major, band president, and lead jazz trumpet

What are your post-high school plans?: Go to RCC to explore different majors.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I’m in a rock band and I like to meditate and listen to music in my free time.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I really enjoy philosophy and I enjoy learning about the world. I also love creating things and tinkering around.

Describe your first competition experience: I was a freshman doing an L-pattern and I was so nervous that I dropped nine times and forgot my routine.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory will always be performing, because of how much I love performing. Besides that, my favorite memories are in between competitions when we have hours of down time and a bunch of us bond.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: I have learned so much about myself and grown so much as a person. I used to be very naive and I didn't understand the value of hard work. I have also gotten to a point of being a master when it comes to dealing with nervousness and fear.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Put yourself out there and don't be afraid of change or being put on the spotlight. Whenever you're nervous or afraid embrace everything you're feeling and enjoy whatever it is you're doing whether it's spinning or not.


Daniel Hwang

Beckman High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in music program: Head drum major 2015-2016, winter drumline battery captain 2014-2016, and percussion section leader 2014-2016

What are your post-high school plans?: Music Ed + Percussion Performance Major, with the possibility of participating in DCI

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? In high school marching band, my original goal was to become drum captain, not head drum major. It wasn't until my director sat down and talked with me during my sophomore year to offer me the head drum major position that I reconsidered my aspirations.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I don't really have spare time outside of everything music or band related, seeing as music IS my passion. I'm currently working on my classical percussion, drum set, mallet percussion, learning clarinet, french horn, bass guitar, singing, conducting a full orchestra (of which I'm leading rehearsals), and arranging some video game music for full orchestra. Outside of that, I do enjoy calculus and video games like Final Fantasy and League of Legends.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition as a drum major was on the street at the Duarte Parade. The entire time, I had the thought, “Don’t drop!” in my mind the entire time I was preparing that day. Actually, Brittany Martinez was my judge that day, and she did in deed pick out all of the beginner mistakes. (She was also one of the judges for one of my first last runs on the parade route, so it’s been interesting to improve so much under one judge.) It was a mix of fear and exhilaration.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: There are two memories (both as Drum Major) - The first was when I successfully conducted an excerpt of "Give Us This Day" for the conducting circuit in DMSC 2016. The energy and support I had from both mentors and fellow drum majors was truly monumental, and my satisfaction with something I had worked on for so long was really fulfilling. For the second memory, it was when I placed at the 2016 Arcadia Band Review. The electric feeling and my mind not believing that this moment could be real when "Beckman HS" was called to the front coupled with the applause from the Beckman marching band was phenomenal - that's one of the memories I will take with me for a very long time, if not forever.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has changed me in my leadership - because I was chosen as head drum major at my high school instead of being auditioned for the spot, I hadn't built up many skills prior to that time. Not only that, as an incoming junior, my authority over the incoming seniors felt very limited - because Beckman traditionally chooses seniors as drum majors, having juniors as drum majors felt very odd for them. Though I am still quiet, being a drum major enabled me to be loud and assert my voice over an ensemble. Most importantly, however, it was this act of taking over the ensemble (especially as my director began handing me the reins, and when I covered for him when he could not be at school for 2 weeks in the middle of parade season) was the catalyst for propelling me toward becoming a music major - there is something so compelling about being able to conduct an ensemble, something I would never have learned had I not become drum major.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: 1. People come and go. JP Ramirez's, Kevin Chang's, Albert Lin's, etc. will come and go, people who improve extremely quickly and/or are amazing spinners. You are not them (or you may be them and you haven't discovered it yet). Find your niche as a drum major and just work on improving your skill. It is far better to be a first-rate YOU instead of a second-rate Kevin/Albert,/JP/etc.

2. When it comes down to it, your job is to lead, and to always be ready to lead. While it may be harsh, your director most likely won't care that you can toss a perfect 6 without looking if you can't/don't want to lead the band, or if they do not respect you for actions you've taken in the past (such as talking trash about a lot of people in your ensemble). While it is good to have fun, there are times when you will need to focus and get the band to focus.

3. Have fun with it - though the terror is real, you have to learn to own it and deal with it. Remember, this opportunity to perform like this really only comes around once - make the most of it, especially those moments when you've just reached pike after an opener in front of a crowd of people.


Erick José Ocon

Bellflower High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: French horn section leader, first chair french horn in the Bellflower High School Concert Band, and second chair french horn in the Cerritos College Concert Band.

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to attend Cerritos College for two or three years and transfer to Cal State Long Beach or Cal State Fresno to become a music major and a band director.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I'm crazy addicted to music. No matter where I am I'll be either singing the horn part from any of our concert pieces, conducting, looking at my music or score, or practicing on horn until my director tells me to go home after everyone has been gone for a long time.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Besides music, I enjoy biking during the weekends until I get lost and I also enjoy going paintballing with anyone.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition was very frightening. After some Bellflower conductors brought people from other schools to practice I felt more calm and helped me do my best that day.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a band member was being part of the Cerritos College band last year and this year. We got the opportunity to perform at Cal State Fresno and see so many talented groups perform from all over the country.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has allowed me to talk to more people outside of my school. As a result, I got to make new friends that I saw as great performers and people. I also learned how to be a better leader in and out of the band program and how to be a better person as a whole.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: I would say don't worry about the end or the start. Look to the journey you have made. Putting your best on that podium, street, hall, or stadium is what counts. What you get after is just a bonus.


Marlon Garcia

Santiago High School (Garden Grove)

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Head drum major (parade and field) and bassoon section leader

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to attend Cal State Fullerton on an eight semester (full) “Scholarship Performance Award in Bassoon” . I enjoy making music, whether it be through my bassoon or from conducting our band. Ultimately, I plan on becoming a high school band director, but I also want the opportunity to play in a professional orchestra.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I mostly dedicated my time to band. Instead of joining a sport or club, I tried various instruments and learned new mace moves.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I really like science, more specifically, chemistry. I like being able to explain daily life in terms of processes. If I was not to major in music I would have probably studied computer sciences instead. It’s something I would have liked to get into.

Describe your first competition experience: I remember standing in front of the band, judge slightly ahead and to the right. Meanwhile I was taking deep breaths as I waited for the invitation to start. I had practiced for so long, but never preformed to be judged. Norwalk’s Halloween parade was not as I had imagined my first competition to be like; our new uniforms were not ready, our old uniforms had not been fitted for this year’s band so we stood in our purple shirts and jeans. We had actually placed, and I had won my first trophy. It was a great feeling.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory was my first time attending a parade competition. During my sophomore year our school returned to the parade competition scene, under our new band director. I really enjoyed seeing the different marches and bands. I remember having just played the Billboard March and waiting for our results. We kept joking on how we “Kent believe” we actually placed. It was probably the lamest pun, but the pun revolved around Kent Lam being our new band director.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: It has renewed my appreciation for teachers and all the effort they put in to give us a great year. If I had not been drum major I don’t know if I may be on my current career path, it really helped me discover my desire to teach and make music.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Listen to what advice the more experienced leaders have to say and try to reflect on it. Everyone knows at least one thing that you don’t. Modesty is the key to success. Longevity is everything to me, long reed life and practice time.


Jeremy Santos

Rowland High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Mellophone section leader and first chair french horn

What are your post-high school plans?:I plan to study Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I have played the piano for 14 years and can discern the pitch of any note without written reference.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I like to read the Bible and books about history.

Describe your first competition experience: I was performing an L-pattern as a seventh grader in Alvarado. I find it funny that I marched to the eighties song, “Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: One of my favorite memories as a band member was playing the climax of “Irish Tune” by Percy Grainger with my wind ensemble during a ratings festival. The “G” (concert C) on the French horn above the staff sounded and felt very surreal.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major helped me become a hardworking person who focuses on the most minute details to make myself a better person.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Stretch all your boundaries. Add creativity to your craft; then you’ll find that your world is expanding.


JP Gonzales

Bellflower High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Pit Captain

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to go to Cal State Long Beach right after I graduate. I’m not quite sure what my major is going to be yet, but my heart is pretty set on it being some sort of art program.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I consider myself an artist, and my creativity and what my imagination can come up with is probably what sets me apart from a lot of people.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? As you’ve probably already guessed, art is something I’m really passionate about. My answer to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” has always been the same for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to grow up and just make something I’ll love and hopefully other people can connect with.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition surprisingly wasn’t that bad. I joined my school’s drum major program my junior year, so I was already pretty used to performing. The most nerve racking thing about it was that rather than being in a band or group where my mistakes might be overlooked, it was just me up there.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My greatest memory throughout all four years of being a band member is probably SCSBOA championships my senior year, I don’t think I’ve ever put so much into a performance in my life before. My greatest memory in DMSC was probably finals last year, where I came in not even really expecting much out of myself after seeing all these great performances and ended up winning 3 medals.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being in my school’s drum major program has definitely made me more responsible and dedicated. It has also made me come out of my shell more and not be afraid to step up and speak or take a lead if I have to.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: An important piece of advice I wish someone had told me when I first got into performing is that what the audience thinks doesn’t matter as much as long as you, above all other people, enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re confident and you have fun, people will have fun with you.


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Raymond "RJ" Lantz

Temescal Canyon High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Head drum major and lead trumpet for Jazz band.

What are your post-high school plans?:  I plan to go to San Jacinto Community to study Psychology while continuing flight school at the same time. Then I’ll transfer to a university and gather flight hours.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you?  When I was first getting into band I wanted to play the trombone, but I didn’t because I was afraid my 5th grade arms were too short for the slide, so instead I chose to play the trumpet.  Oh, and I am really afraid of stingrays.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major?  My interest is currently in flight school.  It’s been rigorous and exhilarating to be able to fly twice a week.

Describe your first competition experience:  Bryan was there and I was truly nervous.  It was the Riverside King Band Review and I was in the 8th grade.  My hand was so tight around my mace Bryan had to pry it from my fingers.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?:  At my first lesson lesson with Bryan Millares he brought Kevin Chang and Albert Lin, and they were pretty cool!

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?:  It changed my life by making me feel and act more mature for my age.  It also improved me as a person and I feel like if I wasn’t drum major or didn’t participate in the sport I would be totally different from what I am now.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?:  You are only gonna be as good as you want to be.  It’s gonna be hard, but that what makes it unique.  You're gonna be nervous, but that is what makes it an adventure.  In the end, you meet some great people and life long friends, so enjoy it.


Steve Najera

Loara High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Assistant drum major and senior bass clarinet player in Loara’s 4th Period Band.

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to go straight to university to study computer science, probably in a field involving encryption. I’ve had some hands on experience with simple encryption and I want to learn more about it.  If not, I’ll go to community college for 2 years, then transfer to a university. Also, I’ll start looking for a part-time job.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I weigh 171 pounds. I take time in my day to study my thoughts and analyze them.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I enjoy playing video games on my down time and I like to rollerblade often (I started a few months ago, but I do love rollerblading).

Describe your first competition experience: I remember feeling nervous and anxious, but I was also extremely excited. After my performance, I felt relieved. The whole time, I had so much fun.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: During my first time working my school’s tournament (Loara Band Review & Field Tournament), I enjoyed watching a lot of the field bands perform. At the time, I enjoyed being alone most of the time and tended to be strict with myself as well.  I spent my night at the tournament with a friend messing around and enjoying the field band performances.  I learned that night how much fun it was to hang out with people and to let loose. This is my favorite memory of being a band member.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has strengthened my ability to commit. It has also improved my confidence.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Trust your own abilities to perform and have fun.

 


Paul Jonathan Crawford

Glendora High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Assistant drum major and first chair trumpet in jazz band

What are your post-high school plans?: I will be going to Citrus College for two years while studying music and auto mechanics. I will then join the Navy.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? Something my fellow drum majors might now know about me is that I love hiking and I have a huge passion for cars.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? One interest I have is cars. One day I hope to build a car of my own that will be the most economically friendly car ever made.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition experience was nerve racking, but inspiring. Every competition I did (whether good or bad) inspired me to keep working harder to do better every time.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a band member of Glendora High School was hearing my name being called for assistant drum major at our school’s banquet, and not being able to stop crying because I was so happy and excited that I finally achieved my dream.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has made a difference in my life by teaching me that there is always room for improvement. Being a drum major has taught me to be more kind and understanding, how to be a leader, and how to take initiative and be the one to set things in motion. Most of all, it has taught me how to be a friend.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Advice I would like to pass on is this, being a drum major is not about winning or losing. It's not about being the best or beating everyone else. It's not about being in charge or ordering people around like a strict boss. It's about trying your hardest and doing it with the people you love. It's about doing everything you do with your friends and band mates by your side. It's about learning to work with others and be not just a leader, but a friend that someone can look up to and learn from. Just like how  we can always learn from each other, because there is always room for improvement.


JP Ramirez

Glendora High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program: Head drum major and first alto saxophone in jazz band.

What are your post-high school plans?: I would like to either attend Azusa Pacific University and major in music performance or attend Pasadena City College for general education and transfer to UC Santa Cruz to study and obtain a Master's Degree in Astrophysics to hopefully land a career at Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? They might not know that I first joined the Glendora drum major group only to spin, and was not interested in becoming head drum major until I was a sophomore.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I love astronomy and studying all about space. I also spend hours and hours watching Ted Talks on YouTube about the most random topics.

Describe your first competition experience: At my first competition, my drum major as a freshman asked me right before I went on to put out my hand straight in front of me and show it to him, only to realize that I was unknowingly trembling out of performance anxiety. Though my first run wasn't perfect, the relief after I was finished was indescribable.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a drum major was at the 2016 DMSC finals, seeing so many fellow drum majors from not only my school but almost all of those who attended the competition saluting me after my final run.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: I believe that being a drum major has allowed me to change my whole attitude towards what it means to be an effective leader, teaching me how to address issues with assertion and confidence.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: "It's not what you say, it's what you do."


Desiree Garroutte

Loara High School

 

What is your leadership position(s) in music program?: Head drum major and first chair trombone.

What are your post-high school plans?: My plan is to go to the Art Institute of California- Orange County and study in culinary arts.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you?: They may not know that I am half Guamanian.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major?: My other interests outside of band would be water polo and cooking. I've played water polo for two years. I was JV captain last year and received MVP. I moved up to varsity this year and played wing and goalie. I've been interested in culinary arts since I could cut vegetables and have been accepted to the Art Institute of California - Orange County as a Culinary Arts major.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition, I was announced as "Destiny Garroutte." That was the highlight of that day!

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory would have to be the concert we played in San Francisco my sophomore year. We played "O' Magnum Mysterium" in honor of Mr. Marino and it was the best performance of that song we had ever played; even our band director had to hold back tears before he could even put the baton down.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has helped me gain confidence in myself, it's taught me how to own "it" regardless of the results, and I've learned to speak up for myself and for others.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: The best advice I could give would be to remember that everyone is different and that's okay. Use your differences to your advantage and remember that your own uniqueness is what makes you beautiful.


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