2018 Senior Spotlight


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Elija Balanga

School: Santiago HS 

Leadership position(s) in music program:  Band Treasurer and Head Music Librarian

What are your post-high school plans?:  I will be attending UCLA to study Biochemistry.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you?  My fellow drum majors probably do not know about my love of Broadway Showtunes.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major?  I love playing video games. Right now, the games I play include League of Legends, Pokémon Go, and Stardew Valley.

Describe your first competition experience (SCSBOA or DMSC, parade or field):  I don’t remember much from my first competition except for the fact that I placed second to last in my division. However, I felt proud to beat at least one person because that one person happened to be my older brother.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?:  My favorite drum major memory was the Drum Major Games, which is a series of drum major related-events that we do at the end of the year at Santiago. Some of the events include a high toss competition, a  blindfolded rifle toss competition, and a balance your baton on your nose competition. It was a fun way to celebrate the end of an exhausting drum major season.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?:  Being a drum major has taught me many lessons about discipline, initiative, and preparation that I hope will guide me through my time at college and my career.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?:  The progress is in the preparation. So, in anything you do, prepare well, and let your preparation carry you forward. If you don’t get the outcome you want, try again and trust the process.


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Aldo Nicolas Soria Lozano

Bellflower High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Assistant Drum Major

What are your post-high school plans?: I want to teach music and direct a marching band. I’m still deciding which college offer to accept, but I’m currently leaning towards CSULB.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I have trouble seeing red. That’s why I have blue tinted glasses.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I like to cook new things. I will look up a random dish that looks good and try to make it. I’ve gotten better at cooking most meats, but when it comes to fish, all you will get is a black piece of cardboard.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition experience is something that is funny for me to look back on. I was a total mess. I didn’t take off my shako during my performance in conducting, couldn’t stop shaking, kept forgetting to breathe, and locked my knees.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: There are many memories to choose from, but the one memory that I will always look back on is meeting Hannah Martin and Kevin Dajay. We have built an everlasting friendship, and it’s painful to think about ever letting go. Even before Principal Conducting was called Principal Conducting, we were the first and only conductors in it (which is why we call ourselves “The Trio”). I could cry just thinking of no longer competing with them. Note that I said “with them,” and not “against them,” because we have grown so much together, always pushing each other to be the best and supporting each other. It is because of meeting them that I have made these memories of a lifetime. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being in the drum major position at my high school and participating in DMSC competitions as a drum major has helped me overcome social anxiety. I’m ready to tackle and meet the world!

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?:  Break out of your shell. Meet and greet everyone, because who knows how many friends from DMSC you will keep after high school.

11. Why did you choose your conducting piece this season? I wanted to give myself a challenge and get out of my comfort zone. I chose Magnolia Star by Steve Danyew for the simple fact that it screams in your face and demands attention---the complete opposite of me. The piece drives forward and is angry for the majority of it. I couldn’t see myself conducting it, and because of this, I had to take it on. The piece felt awkward at first, but it grew on me the more I practiced in front of a mirror. Conducting the piece was very difficult and I didn’t score too well at the beginning of the season, but every time I got a low score, I never beat myself up. The excitement of self-improvement drove me forward to conquer Magnolia Star. I got sharper, confident, and more comfortable on the podium the more I practiced. I hope everyone has those moments of self-love and self-respect in the hard work they do. You got this!

Do you plan to further pursue conducting? I want to promote conducting. Everyone likes music in some way or another. Conducting is no different from tapping your foot to the beat and expressing how the music makes you feel. I want to give people another opportunity to get involved with music. I would especially like to teach students how to become conductors and respect their own skill. I hope more conductors compete in DMSC and that they all help each other to be the best they can be.


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Jason Reyes

Arroyo High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major, Head Quarter Master, and Honor Band Bass Trombone

What are your post-high school plans?: I want to become a firefighter.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I was Arroyo’s first freshman drum major.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Although most of my experience has been through band and colorguard, I really enjoy being a leader. This isn’t because I’m power-crazy, but rather because I enjoy leading, teaching, and helping others, hence why I want to be a firefighter.

Being involved in both drum majoring and color guard, did you find that the skills needed for one helped with the other, or is it a completely different skill set?  Yes and no. I’d been spinning as a drum major since 6th grade, so when I came into color guard as a freshman it was a completely new experience. I caught on quickly to the spinning style and found it to be easier than drum majoring, mostly because you were allowed to move your body while doing choreo. However, the difficult part was combining spinning with dancing. In the end though, I did find that drum major put me ahead of the game in color guard and vis versa, as learning a new spinning style helped me advance in drum majoring (I also snuck in a few guard tricks into my drum major routines here and there). I also found that mace and flag are very similar in spinning style, and the same with military and weapons.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition was the Loara Band Review as a seventh grader. All I remember was being very confused about why they put a first-year as center of the front rank. I also remember a clarinet girl fainting and my chops dying twenty minutes in.

You are one of our longest tenured drum majors, what has helped you stay motivated throughout the years?  I honestly just love performing. Not necessarily for the awards or praise, but I’ve just found a passion in both performing and watching others. On top of that, I also remember feeling motivated to compete through how my role models and older peers competed and I wanted to serve as that same example for my kids at Arroyo. This year only Jillian Cerbasi competed, but I’m hoping that the other candidates see how her dedication earned her a position as an assistant and follow in her footsteps.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory will always be when I made my bus cry right before championships my junior year. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember saying I was proud of everyone.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: I really didn’t want to be a drum major in high school, but I’m so glad I did. It greatly matured me and taught me essential people skills. My favorite aspect, though, is being able to motivate and inspire others around me.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Don’t give up or quit, you will regret it. Even through all the trauma, scolding, judging, and emotional breakdowns, don’t quit. It will be worth it when you look back and see what you accomplished. Also, don’t forget to dismiss your band. Ever.

 


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Anthony Luong

South El Monte High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major and First Chair Alto Saxophone

What are your post-high school plans?: College (Aerospace Engineer)

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I like anime and planes.

When/where/how did you discover you passion for aviation?  I'm not sure when, but I've always been fascinated by how things that move, especially how they fly.

As an aerospace engineer, is there a specific genre of aviation that you prefer (Military/General/Commercial) Why?  I don't mind but I want to work with airplanes. I like military aircraft so I guess military is my preference.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I ran a marathon in middle school.

Wow! Which marathon did you run? What was your time?  I ran the 2013 LA marathon finishing with 6:34:58

Describe your first competition experience: I was forced, because no one wanted to be drum major and I was a little interested. It was fun.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory was waking up early for the Arcadia Festival of Bands to do tai chi in the band room.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has made me a bit more sociable.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Be sure to have enough energy before performing.


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Darren Macapagal

John F. Kennedy High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Parade Drum Major and Band Vice-President

What are your post-high school plans?: After graduating from high school, I plan on attending the University of California, Irvine to earn my bachelor’s in History. Afterwards, I plan to join the United States Navy after college to become a full-fledged Naval Officer. While in the Navy, I plan to pursue my master’s in Military History and possibly my doctoral degree, and hopefully land my dream job teaching Military History at the prestigious United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

When did you first discover your passion for military history? Why military history? I first discovered my passion for military history my sophomore year of high school. We briefly learned about Revolutionary Wars, Napoleonic Wars, and both World Wars. I have been fascinated with ground warfare, air warfare, and most of all Naval warfare, and how one mistake can alter the course of a war. It’s also interesting to see the modernization on the battlefield, in the air, and at sea. For ground warfare: how we went from swords and horses to muskets and cannons (artillery) to gas (chemical warfare) and landmines. With air warfare, attaching a gun and eventually dropping a bomb the size of a car from a plane, effectively changing many positions in war. Lastly, with naval warfare: how we went from galleons to warships (big wooden beasts), to building the biggest battleships with heavy armor and artillery (biggest guns), to submarine warfare with the stealth to surprise the enemy, to large aircraft carriers that can carry squadrons of airplanes for full invasions and air raids.

What is your favorite or most interesting tidbit about military history? What I’m really interested in is the history between both World Wars, and how the first world war led into the second world war. For example, important figures in the second world war were also in the first---people like Sir Winston Churchill who was First Sea Lord of the Admiralty and served as a captain in the first world war, then served as Prime Minister in the second world war. Another example is Franklin D. Roosevelt. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the first world war, and then as the 32nd President of the United States in the second. There are many more, and I really want to continue studying the World Wars more in depth and be able to teach it someday. I feel like schools can always teach more and go further in depth, because the smallest of details can alter the course of future, and because the past is what creates the outcome of the future.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I used to play sports like basketball, soccer, football, tennis, and even swim. I also used to be in karate for five years.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I like to go English horseback riding and what I love most is sailing.

What made you want to become a drum major and spin/conduct? One thing that inspired me to become a drum major was when I was watching one of the La Palma Days Parades way back when. I saw the amazing tricks the drum major was doing, and the white uniform, which stood out from everyone else’s, really inspired me to try out for drum major. I was also inspired when I was watching the Commandant's Own in a parade. After the parade, I was given the opportunity to meet some of the members of the band and was really grateful being able to meet and talk to the drum major at the time. He really encouraged me to try out for drum major for my high school marching band.

Describe your first competition experience: I remember my first SCSBOA parade performance was the Placentia Band Review. It was a sunny day and I remember beginning to slightly panic. I looked to my left and there was a lot of people, and the same when I looked to the right. When I got to the competition line, I halted the band, and the judge told me to move my front rank to the taped on the ground. It’s funny, because I blanked out for a second, then realized it was show time. After setting the band on the commotion line, I didn’t bother looking left or right at the spectators on the sidewalk. All I did was look down the horizon and took a deep breath. When the judge told me to “parade my band,” I called my band to attention, and before I knew it, I was blowing my whistle command for the roll off.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory would have to be when I led the band at the LA County Fair. My instructor, Bryan Ray, yelled, “Darren GO!” which was the signal to do tricks, so I did a 45 finger roll with a mace. Forgetting how long my mace was, I chopped my plume off and then I kid you not, that plume flew like an eagle. Then I see Bryan run after it, retrieve the plume, and tries to put it back on my shako. After many attempts, he said, “you’re gonna have to crouch,” and then I had my plume back on my head. THANKS BRYAN.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Becoming drum major made me more independent and more mature than I used to be. It gave me the confidence and the patience I needed, and showed me the skills and potential that I didn’t even know I had. It even taught me time management. Drum majoring has allowed me to teach, help others, and encourage those around me. To top it off, I learned a lot during the process.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: As drum majors you are the highest-ranking student leader of the marching band. You must learn how to be humble, courteous, and flexible. Also, you must learn how the band is your priority/responsibility before yourself. There will be tough challenges at times, and if you feel overwhelmed, then take a step back and take a breath. If you think you can accomplish a task, then by all means do so, but if not, then don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you want to make a difference in your section, LEAD IT. If you want to make a difference in the band, LEAD IT. If you want to make a difference in the organization, LEAD IT. What is crucial is that you hold your course and stay true to who you are. Never be anything other than yourself.


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Fernando Cocom

Palmdale High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: First chair/French Horn

What are your post-high school plans?: History major (Civil Service administrator.)

Is there any particular era of history you enjoy studying about more then others?  Yes, I really enjoy the French Revolution.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I have an obsession with cats, I love everything about them. 

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Spending quality time with my friends and goofing off.

Describe your first competition experience: My first field exhibition I started crying because I was super scared of what people would think if the way I marched. I ended up doing horrible, but the memory of the field Exhibition made me try harder.  

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: I don’t have one specific memory that I can look back to and call it my favorite. It’s a number of things. A few are my amazing friends I’ve made over the course of four years, my amazing band director (Mr. Pincetich) who has made me realize that not everything is perfect un til you put effort into it and when it is “perfect” you can fix it even more, and my amazing boyfriend Bryan, he has made my senior year worth living for over and over again. 

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Although I’m not the head drum major at Palmdale High school, DMSC has made me feel like I am. And with that I can say being “drum major” has made me love myself even more. I love the idea of helping people and being there for people. 

2018 was Palmdale High School's first year competing at DMSC.  What was it like to represent a new program at DMSC? It was truly astonishing representation Palmdale High School at DMSC because I think that this opened up a whole new chapter for the Palmdale High School Falcon Corps.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: You shouldn’t give up because someone doesn’t believe in you. You are so talented in your own way, don’t stop believing you can accomplish something because people don’t believe in you. If you try and try again eventually you’ll get there. You just can’t stop believing in you, only you can change who you are and how you see yourself. 


 Photography by Jayson Antonio

Photography by Jayson Antonio

Taylor Lee

John F. Kennedy High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Field Drum Major

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to study music education and eventually become a high school or college director.

Why do you want to become a high school or college director? I want to become a director, because to me, there is this joy of taking an ensemble and making music together with them. I feel it's a more offhanded way of performance, and being able to raise young musicians and see that progress really just ignites this fire of joy in me.

What goals do you have as a music director? As a music director, I have two goals. My first goal is to make music with musicians. I say this because, as much as it is about education, I think it's also important to put out the best performance as possible. Tthe band, no matter which school, is still a performance ensemble. And as performers, I think that the most important thing should be to play. My second goal is to create fine musicians from the program I teach in. Hopefully, I will be the person to inspire a student down a path of music. Or maybe not. Wherever I am at, I want to encourage both performance excellence and personal growth.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I yoyo a little and enjoy biking a lot.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I enjoy meeting up with friends and/or playing League of Legends with them. I also like biking around, collecting smaller, toy-ish instruments, and playing with the yoyo occasionally.

Do you ever cycle in events or just for fun? Usually I cycle for fun, but I really, really want to go race. It takes a lot of training and time. Even if I never compete, I always have a passion for getting on a bike and going around the city, because there's always this sense of exploration and fun.

Describe your first competition experience: My first SCSBOA field competition was really fun. Although we only had our first movement finished, performing it felt so weird. Thankfully, I did not mess up and performing in front of an audience really made me excited, nervous, on edge, and other things. The small pump moment of excitement at the end of our first competition made me addicted to performance in music.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: I remember as a band member, our director was standing on the ledge of a loading truck. He nearly fell down, and as he did, he accidentally slipped out a swear word, and I remember the whole band was just there and then we started to laugh while the director joined in. It was one of the more united moments our band shared together.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major really opened my eyes to leading an organization. Personally, it stressed me out a lot, since I cared so much, but being a drum major forced me to be a better decision maker and better manage both time and energy. It was a source of stress relief and happiness for me ironically, since while I was trying to push the band and encouraging people who might not care as much. I had a lot of fun working with both students and staff, and assigning and doing P.T with the band was my favorite part of being a drum major hands down.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: The most important part I feel about being a drum major is not the spinning, conducting, or the title. The thing with being drum major is, it’s not about the drum major. The most important thing is to connect everyone in the band together, and inspire and create a group of people that work together towards the betterment of the program. It’s about working together. I feel that is the most important thing about being a drum major.


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Valerie Olivas

Glendora High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Assistant Drum Major, and First Chair Trombone in Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble

What are your post-high school plans?: My plans after high school are to attend Pasadena City College for two years and transfer to a university. My dream job is be a music supervisor for movies, concerts, and festivals.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I play the bagpipes and I actually competed and placed with my pipe band at the Bagpipe World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland in 2017. Also, I am the youngest of six sisters in my family.

What was it like traveling to Scotland to compete at the Bagpipe World Championships? The group I competed with in Scotland, Kevin R. Blandfords Memorial Pipe Band, offered my sister and I the opportunity to travel and compete with them a year ago. In preparation for our trip we practiced three hours a day on the pipes so we could compete. When we got to Scotland, the airline actually lost my mace for a couple days and I got it back the day before my first drum majoring competition there. Neither of my parents came with my sister and I, so it was pretty cool to be on our own for the trip and watch over ourselves in a foreign country. On the day of the competition, it was raining so our band could only warm up for fifteen minutes for qualifiers, and then we waited for the results to see if we made finals. We were selected as the second to last seat and competed in the finals. When we heard our placing, I had never been so happy to be sixth place at a band competition. It was truly an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go back and compete on the Glasgow Green.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? My interests outside of music and being a drum major are going to museums, taking pictures of secret beaches, rock scrambling (rock climbing without gear), and exploring.

Describe your first competition experience: I can’t remember my first competition, but my first time performing with Glendora was in the 2014 Rose Parade in the front rank. I am truly blessed to have experienced “the turn” more than once and to feel the world’s eyes on me.

How did you march in the 2014 Rose Parade as an eighth grader? How much did you have to "train" with the band to march the six miles? When I was in eighth grade, Glendora High School offered ten middle schoolers in our district the opportunity to march with them in the 2014 Rose Parade. I tried out and got in. After the ten middle schoolers were chosen, we went to every parade practice with the high school from then on until the day of the parade. I was paired with the assistant drum major at the time, Jacob Kramer, to help with my marching and he actually introduced me to drum majoring. For practice we started out with marching one mile and then eventually marching six miles to build up endurance for the parade.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory from band is from the 2014 Arcadia Field Show Competition my freshman year when we marched out from an underground tunnel and it felt like we were in the Bubble Bowl from spongebob.

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, because I met my best friend through it and my high school experience would have been way different without it.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Advice that I’d give future drum majors is don’t be afraid to be loud, bend your knees during awards, and the title doesn’t make you a leader---respect and the way you carry yourself do.


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Sebastian Hanhart

Magnolia High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Low Brass Section Leader

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to attend a college and major in music composition.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I’m golf captain of the Magnolia Golf Team, have thirty-two stitches, and am a karaoke master.

What do you love so much about karaoke? For me, it’s not just singing. It’s having a good time and expressing emotions (which is particularly hard for me to do). It’s one of the few things I do where I can show how passionate I am.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Outside of band and music, I’m greatly involved at my church and am a worship leader.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition was a little intimidating, but once I began, I realized it wasn’t so bad.

What made you want to compete as a first-year senior? I always wanted to learn and compete, but something always came up. Freshman year I didn’t know what it was, sophomore year I broke a finger, and junior year I didn’t have the time. Even though it took four years, I’m glad I finally got to compete.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a band member was earning a Superior rating at festival this year, which was the first Superior for the Magnolia High School Wind Ensemble in twelve years. I’m glad I was a part of that performance.

What was it like performing at festival this year and earning the superior rating with your ensemble? I remember being on stage, looking into the audience, and seeing the other schools from the Anaheim district in the audience. This would be my last festival performance. Our first piece was Heaven’s Light by Steven Reineke, and the climax was amazing! Our second piece was A Longford Legend by Robert Sheldon, and I was happy my duet went well. When I found out we had earned a superior I was so zealful. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment knowing I was a part of something no other Magnolia Wind Ensemble had done in twelve years.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major, I’ve learned the amount of time and work that directors put into their programs. I feel like band members should be more respectful of anyone on the podium or leading the ensemble. Doesn’t matter if they are a director or drum major.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Don’t hold onto your mistakes. It’s okay if you mess up. The important part is to learn from them so you can do better next time.


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Isaac Nievez-Menendez

Garey High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Assistant Drum Major and First Chair Trombone

What are your post-high school plans?: After high school I am going to serve my country and be an aviation mechanic in the United States Marines.

Where did you discover you passion for aviation?  My passion for aviation came from working at my uncles auto shop. I really liked fixing cars and was interested on how everything went together and how it would work and one day I went to a airplane museum and the thought for fixing airlines looked more challenging and interesting.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I really really really like chicken wings. And I actually have a girlfriend.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I love to go eat wings with my friends. And I played football for three years in high school.

Chicken Wings seem to be a favorite among Garey drum majors.  Do you have favorite flavor?  My favorite flavor is honey bbq for Buffalo Wild Wings

What position did you play for football?  I played linebacker and defense of end. 

Being in band and on the football team at Garey must have been very difficult.  How did you manage your time? To be in football was really stressful because it was also marching season. I had football practice from 3:30-5:00 and right after I had marching band practice from 5:00-9:00 so I was really tired and on Friday’s when I had football game I was a starter so I would play all game and get hit a lot and the game would end like at 9pm and sometimes I would have a parade the next day and have to be at school like at 5 in the morning and I would be so tired and sore and I would barely be able to March. So yeah it was stressful.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition was at Bellflower and I was one of the first people to go on in the morning. It was funny, because I didn’t have my glasses so I couldn’t see very well from far away. The judges didn’t have the green flag to signal me to start so they had to use their hand, but I couldn’t see so I was just standing there for a good while until they told me to start on the speaker. I ended up doing really bad, but I learned from the experience and did better at every competition.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a band member is the band placing first at the Arcadia Festival of Bands my junior year.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has made me more confident.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Earn your band’s respect, because being an effective leader is a process, not a given title.


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Faith Alyssa Garcia

Downey High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Parade Drum Major 2015-2017

What are your post-high school plans?: I will be attending Long Beach City College to work on my general education. After two years in community, I plan to transfer to a university to major in International Business and minor in a language.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I am the first three year military drum major of my school. On top of that, I was the first drum major from my school to place at the Arcadia Festival of Bands, and to place all three years that I have held the position.

Becoming head drum major as a sophomore must have been challenging. What advice would you give to trainees who may soon become head drum major of their program? I was really excited when I became drum major as a sophomore, but if I had the chance to tell my sophomore self something from my experience as head drum major, I would tell her that the position is not as easy as it looks. To all of the potential new head drum majors, remember to breathe, relax, and take it one step at a time.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I like to read books and collect bookmarks. I actually decided to collect bookmarks this year. I have a bookmark from Vietnam, one from the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and one from the New York Public Library.

Describe your first competition experience: My first parade performance as a drum major was a stressful experience. I was mostly afraid of messing up or dropping my baton. When my band arrived at the starting line, the starter judge gave me a towel to wipe my hands, because they were so sweaty. We were running late due to traffic and we didn’t have enough time to warm up. After I gave the towel back to the starter judge, he told me that I had about thirty seconds before he would tell me to start my band. My band director was still lining up the band using the tape, and I was waiting for him to finish. After I called my band to “dress-center- dress”, the starter judge told me to go. Knowing that I had thirty seconds to get to pike and step off my band, I quickly called them to “ready-front” and attention. Half the band didn’t sound off, because they were all confused since they had not finished dressing. I had about twenty seconds left to get to pike. I did my routine, but it was improvised. I blew the whistle and took my band into competition. While I was doing my salute, I dropped halfway and panicked because I didn’t fit in to my bibbers since they were small on me. Even though I struggled to pick up my baton quickly, I managed to hit my salute before the salute line. After the competition, we were filtered into the parade and performed.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory was when I placed third at the Arcadia Festival of Bands my sophomore year. I didn’t think I would place that day since I had not placed the whole season. When they called my school name for the military drum major division, I was shocked and kept asking myself if the announcer actually called my school name. Afterwards, my instructor, Emmerick Doan, was jumping up and down, and was so happy that I received third. His reaction to my placement made me happy, because I had never seen him that excited. Without my instructor’s help, I would have never gotten to where I am now. I am grateful for all that he has done for me as one of his first students.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major helped me mature in many ways, such as being able to work with others more effectively and understand other points of view.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Don’t worry about the numbers on the score sheet. The only things that are important are the comments and how you feel about your performance.

You have so many friends and supporters in the drum major community. Are there any shout outs you want to give? As I mentioned earlier, I want to give a huge thank you to my instructor, Emmerick Doan. The time and dedication he has spent with me these past four years mean a lot to me, Without his help, I wouldn’t be as good as I am right now. Not only has he impacted my life in a way that no one else has, but I have also learned a lot from him in ways that will help me in the future. Thank you so much!

I would also like to say thank you to my former instructor, Bryan Ray. Thank you for helping me when I lost all faith in myself. You were able to give me confidence in myself when i felt like I was not doing well at spinning.
Lastly, I want to give a huge shout out to the DMSC Staff. The organization has made incredible progress since I joined back in 2015. Thank you for all your hard work to help drum majors across Southern California.

 

 


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Alexander Seim

Glendora High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major and Lead Alto Saxophone in Jazz Band

What are your post-high school plans?: I will be attending Sacramento State and majoring in Criminal Justice. I plan on pursuing a career with the FBI.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? One time I was trying to do new tricks with mace and I ended up dropping it while attempting a 45 toss and broke my tooth. If you didn’t already know that I have a fake tooth, now you do.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I am a fan of the outdoors. I enjoy archery, hiking, swimming, and off-roading in my jeep. Sometimes my dad and I take our jeeps to the mountains just to have a day of fun. Going to the mountains helps me clear my thoughts and live in the moment. I also work at a summer camp that involves hiking and archery.

Describe your first competition experience: My first parade competition was terrifying. I was so nervous about what would happen. I distracted myself by thinking about plans later in the day and what I ate for breakfast. Honestly, keeping my mind off the competition helped. I received first place and having a successful run at my first competition was so satisfying.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a drum major was winning sweepstakes drum major at the Arcadia Festival of Bands.

What was it like earning the sweepstakes drum major award at the Arcadia Festival of Bands and joining an extensive list of Glendora drum majors to earn the same award? It is a great honor to uphold that title. Glendora has been known for their drum majors and I am proud to be apart of the list of Glendora drum majors who have won Arcadia sweepstakes. To be honest, I was a little worried that day. When I was about to perform, all I could think was, “Do not drop it!” At the end of the parade, I felt good about my run and hoped it got me where I wanted to be. Once they announced my name for the award, I became very proud of myself knowing that I had done something right.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has helped me grow as a person. I used to be very shy and not outspoken. Now, I no longer have a fear of speaking in front of people. Also, I have improved my leadership skills and communication skills.

How different would your life be if you weren’t a drum major? I was actually supposed to go to Upland High School my junior year. My life would have been so different. I probably would have done water polo and swim rather than marching band, and that would have changed my course in life completely. I’m glad I stayed in Glendora and was able to experience all of the opportunities given to me. It has been a wonderful journey and I am sad it is about to end. Every senior before me has told me that high school goes by fast, and they are completely right. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Being one of the few Elite Division drum majors who is self-taught, how did you develop your drum major skills? I gained many of my skills from YouTube. I would watch drum majors before me and learn their routines. I not only watched mace spinners, but also military. There is a lot that can be learned just by watching and using creativity. I would like to credit past drum majors and some of my friends for keeping me motivated during the process. I actually never planned on being the head drum major of Glendora High School, but I’m glad it worked out that way.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Do whatever you believe is right. Do not worry about what others say or think about you. You cannot make everyone happy. But most importantly, have fun!


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Francisco Martinez

Magnolia High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Assistant Drum Major/Head Parade Drum Major 2015, Head Parade and Field Drum Major 2016, Head Parade Drum Major 2017, Clarinet Section Leader, and First Chair Clarinet

What or who inspired you to want to become a drum major? My older sister, who was drum major for two years, inspired me to try out for the position. I remember freshmen year, it was always cool to see her on the podium like, “Hey, that’s my sister!” When other family members saw videos of our shows, the first thing I would point out was her and how she led a group of 150 band members in competition. That idea scared me to death, yet I wanted to experience it.

Having been drum major for three years, what would you go back and tell your sophomore year self if you had the chance? I would tell myself to support the band members more and not just command them. If they need help in something, offer more assistance so that they can improve themselves and become better. Also, be more confident in what you do (I couldn’t lead stretches correctly at some point). Lastly, get to know the band more in terms of individuals. Not only does it help to know what type of people you will be working with, but you will be with them for at least a year, and hopefully become friends with some of them.

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan to attend Fullerton College in the Fall and explore what I may want to major in. I’m leaning towards Music Composition and maybe strive to be a Film Score Composer.

What kinds of movies would you like to compose for? Are there any film composers you admire/draw inspiration from? I actually haven’t thought of movies I would like to compose for, maybe drama/action, something intense or sad. The film composer I most admire is Hans Zimmer. I always liked how so much emotion can be compiled in a few notes and simple melodies. Other composers that I constantly listen to are James Horner, James Newton Howard, Rupert Gregson-Williams, and so many others.
How has participating in multiple performing art groups contributed to your growth as a performer (musician, vocalist, and dancer)? One of the things that I have learned so much from being in many groups is that I should embrace my mistakes, because they help me focus on what I need to work on to become better for the next performance. I tend to get a little nervous before any performance, but while I perform I just do it with ease and full attention so that I notice my mistakes and can learn from them.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I love stretching so that I can do the splits better, which benefits me in dancing. I like to walk/jog around in the evening, listening to music, and reflecting on my day. In general, I think about life a lot.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I joined choir this year, because I love to sing so much and I was the only person who couldn’t sing in my family. I’m also on the Magnolia Dance Team, because I fell in love with dancing such as hip-hop. I serve at my church events, and recently joined the Magnolia Golf Team, which has been pretty fun.

Describe your first competition experience: My first competition as a drum major was the Placentia Band Review in 2015. I remember being extremely nervous the days leading up to the competition, because I didn’t want to give the band a penalty for delayed event or have other mistakes that previous drum majors had. When I was about to step off, I didn’t feel nervous AT ALL, which I thought was weird since I get nervous easily and “freak out” to shake things off, but everything turned out fine and I was thrilled to have led the band.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: Going to competitions on the bus and having fun. This was only for the first two years though, because I got to sit with my friends and I had a bus buddy, but since I was head drum major junior and senior year, I had to sit at the front all the time to lead count offs, silent bus, and make sure everyone was behaving. It was so lonely, but going out there to compete/perform as a whole group with friends was amazing and it’s hard to forget the amazing times I had on competition days, before the competition, during, and especially after. I think about a lot of them thinking of how I’m going to miss a lot of people.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: It has helped me with my confidence when performing and talking to people, because I was so shy my freshman year.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: When you mess up in front of a large group, don’t let this bring you down. Instead, make it clear to yourself first that you are human and you can make mistakes even when you least expect it. Having the title as Drum Major doesn’t make you perfect, yet that’s what many will seem to expect from you. Be nice to yourself and improve yourself so you can overall be more confident in leading your group to their objective.

 


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Alexis Nikki De Guzman

Katella High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major, Band President, Flute Section Leader, and First Chair Flute

What are your post-high school plans?: My post-high school plan is to study Biology at a university. I plan on becoming an Anesthesiologist after the many, many, many years of attending school!

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I didn't really want to become the parade drum major. I started spinning only about two weeks before the audition while keeping it a secret. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way (well besides starting freshman year, but this is Katella’s second year of parade)!

Being the second parade drum major at Katella HS, are you excited to be setting the foundation for future Katella HS drum majors? I am SUPER excited for the future of Katella HS parade drum majors AND the Katella Royal Regiment in general! EVery year the Katella Royal Regiment has been improving tremendously and being the best group we possibly can.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Outside of being a drum major I love swimming! I used to be a competitive swimmer and I plan to continue competitive swimming after high school. I also enjoy traveling, calligraphy and video games (Call of Duty and League of Legends)!

Describe your first competition experience: My first DMSC competition was one of the best days of my life. It was a mix of fear and exhilaration. I had many of my friends and drum majors I didn’t know too well with me at the starting line giving me advice, making me laugh, and calming me down. It really shocked me how supportive drum majors were as they met me at the end to salute and congratulate me on my first performance. I have never been happier being around such amazing people!

Are you currently working with any drum major “trainees”? I actually started a program in December called “Aspiring Drum Majors” where I am training drum major candidates! There are currently eight trainees in the program, most of them are underclassmen, which is very exciting! They are most definitely going to be competing with DMSC and experience the rich and amazing community drum majoring has to offer!

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: One of my favorite memories as a band member took place at our last field show competition at the Savanna Field Tournament. After our performance we went back to the parking lot, not to pack up but to play the show again. The seniors and myself sat down in the middle while the whole band surrounded us in a circle. As they played our field show one last time I was in chills and crying of happiness for what this band has become!

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 allowing me to always have an open and peaceful mind in every situation. It has improved me as a person in ways I never thought it could. Drum majoring has taught me to better every little single detail in my life to ensure “a great performance”!

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: The best advice I would pass onto future generations of drum majors is to take all the criticism given to you and reflect on it. Definitely always be the first one to say hi and don’t be afraid to always keep your head up even after a performance! Allow your actictions instead of your voice to dictate who you are as a leader.

 


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Angel Cole

Garey High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Band President and Percussion Sectional Leader

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan on joining the US Navy, and ultimately become a music teacher.

Did anyone or anything inspire you to join band or pursue a career in the US Navy (and eventually as a music teacher)? I was inspired to pursue the military by many of my friends who are joining the marines and I figured that I wasn’t tough enough for the marines and the navy interested me more. As for music, I was inspired by my band directors. I knew I wanted to continue in music, but I didn’t really see myself as a performer. I want to pass on the bliss that music has brought me.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I have a huge obsession with wingstop. It’s my favorite restaurant and wings are my favorite food. My go-to flavors are Mango Habanero and Lemon Pepper, and of course a lot of ranch. I’ve tried every flavor and go there at least twice a month with my friends.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Music takes a large part of my life, but outside of that I have a huge interest in makeup. I like learning new techniques on doing my own makeup and improving, but more than that, I love watching the drag queens of Rupaul’s Drag Race express themselves through makeup. Also they’re just really funny and fierce.

Describe your first competition experience: My first DMSC competition was at Temescal Canyon. I was so nervous and my hands started sweating really bad. I didn’t do that bad for being nervous and sweaty, but my voice cracked in both of my vocals. It was really embarrassing, and my fellow Garey drum majors teased me about it on the way home.

Compared to your first competition experience, how do you feel when you go out to compete now? I get really excited and nervous, instead of being just nervous.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: The drumline feature of my freshman Christmas concert is my favorite memory. I was nervous, and my section was trying to calm me down before we went out, but as soon as we were center stage I had an adrenaline rush, and wanted to smile so bad.

What advice do you have for others who get nervous? I still get nervous, but it’s to the point that I can control it now, because I’ve performed a lot more. My advice is to tell yourself that you’re excited, not just nervous.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has given me a lot of confidence. I always tried to blend in and hide in the background, but with being a drum major I am front and center for a moment.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Put your all into everything you do, because it is so rewarding in the long run


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Tyler Koga

Arnold O. Beckman High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Assistant Drum Major, Principal Bass in chamber orchestra, Lead Tenor Saxophone (2017) and Bass (2018) in jazz band.

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan on attending college at Point Loma Nazarene University to pursue criminology/criminal justice, and continue to play music wherever and whenever I get the chance. My specific profession isn’t decided yet, but I’m open to being a forensic scientist, detective, crime scene investigator, or even a prosecutor.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I entered marching band as a string player. I had no idea how to play any wind instrument, or even all the different kinds that existed. All I knew was that I thought I saw a saxophone, and I wanted to learn how to play it. Even after I chose alto sax (not knowing the difference between the types), there weren’t enough school instruments, so I was stuck on tenor instead, and the rest is history. Another ironic fact about me is that despite the fact that I’m 6’2”, I am deathly afraid of heights. Also, I’m Batman.

What made you want to join marching band? One of Beckman's band parents came to pitch marching band to my middle school music classes. I remember hearing that marching band counts for PE credit. I knew I wanted to be finished with running miles and other fitness tests, and I loved the music class I was in (Orchard Hills' Advanced Orchestra), so what could be better than a second music class that counts for PE? I had no idea at the time that marching band would something that changes my life and me as a person.

Why did you pick the saxophone of all the band instruments? I picked up both of my main two instruments, bass and saxophone, out of inspiration from my father and his twin brother, respectively. Interestingly, before settling on the saxophone, I considered drumline and colorguard, after hearing they can toss sabers. When I heard I could play the saxophone, I knew that was for me, because I had always said that given the chance to learn a wind instrument, saxophone was my first choice. So, when the opportunity came, I took it.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? All too many. Outside of band/orchestra/being a drum major, I spin and collect butterfly knife trainers (no live blades). I also enjoy building Gundam models, taking extra care to file every piece smooth like my father did when he was my age. I picked up the kendama toward the beginning of high school, and sometimes even carry one around with me. I write scripts as well, usually featuring my own original renditions of superheroes like Batman or Superman. Every one of my scripts still have yet to be shot. In a similar vein, I like transcribing music for myself to record, usually covers, because I disappoint myself with every attempt at writing original music.

Of the hobbies you listed, is there one in particular that is special to you, and that you would like to talk more about? I probably spin my balisong (butterfly knife) trainers the most around the house, but I think the one hobby I consider more special is Gundam models. GunPla (Gundam Plastic model) has been around since my dad was my age, maybe even younger. It's a hobby we have in common. I don't always have time for them, but if I'm building a model, and my dad his home, he'll talk to me about his experience building his own models. How they used to only be molded in white plastic and he had to paint it himself, and how now the pieces come in more colors, and with stickers for detail. On top of being a bonding point between us, it's also a great stress reliever for me, because I like building things, so to build something small, yet so detailed is incredibly satisfying for my detail-oriented self.

Describe your first competition experience: My first parade, the 2014 Duarte Route 66 Parade, I had no idea how to consistently make sound with this thing called a tenor sax, so I had to fake it the whole way. We ended up winning first anyway, but all I did that day was put my horn up and stay in step. Learning to play “The Gallant Seventh” came later, after I gained better control over the instrument. My first DMSC competition, Bellflower HS in the 2018 season, I remember the volume on the speakers fluctuating all day, so when I blew my whistle, I was horrified to realize I couldn’t hear my rolloff because the music volume was too low. I was out of step for a little bit in the beginning, but thankfully managed to fix it and still score decently.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: There is one story I have that spans over all four of my years in the Beckman band about me becoming a section leader, then the Assistant Drum Major. The way Beckman’s Drum Major is chosen is very unique: Our band director himself designates the drum majors, no audition process involved. So, I thought that, being someone who started with absolutely nothing, even less than my friends when we were first learning the ins and outs of band, I was probably never going to be a leader. I was proven wrong when, in my junior year, my band director pulled me aside in jazz band one day and told me he wanted me to be one of the woodwind section leaders the next marching season. I was proven wrong even further when on the last day of school, he pulled me and our new Head Drum Major into his office to tell me that I was being promoted to Assistant Drum Major for the following season, even though I was a senior. (Usually, that position is held by the heir to the mace.) I remember the feeling of elation from achieving what I never thought possible, and I sometimes recount this story to myself when I think I have no chance at something.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: I was kind of quiet and did most of my leading in the background before being a drum major. Becoming a drum major definitely strengthened my leadership skills, because I strived to be the kind of leader to the freshmen that I had when I was a freshman myself: involved and supportive – in and out of band. It payed off when some of them became very close friends of mine. I also made sure I was a firm and solid leader to the older classes, too. Confidence was also something I had been working on for some time, but still lacking, and being put into the role of Assistant Drum Major helped me with building more confidence in myself. There was no way I could effectively lead a band without being confident in my own judgment, so I had to learn not to hesitate and to move forth. Overall, it’s been a positive experience for my own personal growth in addition to my growth as a leader.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?:
1.) Represent with honor: As long as you don your school’s uniform or spirit wear (band shirts, school jackets, etc.), you are creating an image of your school’s band and yourself as a leader. Don’t be the drum major who gets caught everywhere swearing in front of children and trashing other bands or people. Be the one who always impresses with politeness and professionalism. People are always watching. Represent in a way that honors yourself and your group.
2.) Be yourself: Respect your school’s traditions. If your school always pikes a certain way, or incorporates a certain move into the salute routine, by all means, respect the traditions. However, don’t try to copy another school or a previous drum major from your own school because they scored well. Challenge yourself, but don’t be unrealistically ambitious. Be yourself. Be a first-rate you – Don’t be a second-rate someone else.
3.) Know your end goal: Is it to better your group? Is it for the special uniform? Is it to spin a fancy stick? Are you a leader because you want to lead your band to betterment, or do you try to assert leadership because you want the title? These are all questions to consider when being an aspiring drum major. Make sure you are in it for the right reason, and that it isn’t just a selfish endeavor. It will show if you aren’t in the right place for being a drum major.
4.) Enjoy it while it lasts: Being a drum major is a lot of responsibility, but make sure you can still have fun with it. There is a time for work, and a time for fun. Enjoy both. All too soon, you’ll be doing your last salute and wishing you had more time. Will it be because you realized too late that you didn’t appreciate your time, or because you appreciated it all and want more? Make the most of every moment, and let no opportunity pass you by.
5.) Nothing is impossible: Take it from me, a bando who came in a string bassist, without any band experience at all. Nothing is impossible. I managed to become a drum major despite my circumstances. If you are dedicated, you have just as much of a chance as anyone else. Don’t discount yourself because you think you have a disadvantage. Nothing is impossible.


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Stephany Najera

Loara High School

Leadership position(s) in music program: Assistant Drum Major

What are your post-high school plans?: After high school, I will be attending a four-year California State University institution to major in Liberal Studies and minor in Social Work to become a special education teacher and child social worker in the future.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? On most days, I tend to isolate myself just so I can read poetry books and rewatch The Office.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? My other interest outside of band is working with special learners and preschoolers at my school. I’m currently a two-year preschool assistant, and am working towards a certificate to indicate my entry employment to the child development pathway. I’m also a teacher assistant for a special education classroom, where I help and guide special learners in their school work.

What inspired your passion for working with children and students with special needs? When I was younger, I was one of those kids who thought special learners were “weird,” so I treated them as if they were outcasts just like the rest of my classmates did. Until one day, my older cousin came back to visit my family and she had a daughter already. I was so excited to meet her daughter but when I faced her, I realized that she was “different” (she was born with down syndrome). I was hesitant to talk to her, so I watched her play with my toys, but I finally got the courage to go up to her and spend time with her. When I began to talk to her, I instantly fell in love with her. I then began to question myself on why did I treat them differently. They are just like any other human being. As I began to spend more time with her, she has taught me so many things for a five year old. She has taught me to always live life to the fullest and to always treasure every moment, because each day is a new adventure. She has changed my perspective on the world by teaching me to be more understanding and patient. Who knew that just being with her could lead to a career I thought I would never picture myself in. She makes me want to be a better person each day. She inspires me to become a special education teacher, because all this time I thought she needed me but, it turns out she was the one person I needed this whole time.

What difference do you hope to make in the lives of the children you will work with as a special education teacher and child social worker? I hope to create a second home away from home for my future special learners. I want them to know that they are not any different from others. That we too can have fun adventures also. I want my future students to know that they can always rely on me for anything. I want them to know that I am not just their teacher, but also a friend. As for my clients, I hope to guide them to become better people than they think they can be. I want them to know that they are not alone in the world. They can always depend on an adult.

Describe your first competition experience: My first DMSC competition was nerve wracking. My anxiety was out of control since it was my first full run through and first competition. I broke down later on, but I told myself this is just the beginning of my journey and here I am now, still improving.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a drum major was conducting the Loara Band 2016 field show for the first time in competition.

How would you describe what it was like and how it felt conducting the Loara Band 2016 field show for the first time in competition? What makes it your favorite memory? Being one of the drum majors for the first time for  the 2016 Loara Band field show, “A New World,” will always be a field show I will never forget. When leading the band onto the field for the first time, I got so nervous yet excited. When I saw the head drum major getting started, my heart beat suddenly increased drastically. I kept telling myself, “This is it, my first competition of the season where I'm actually conducting the band. I can do this. Just live in the moment, Steph.” From that time to the end of the performance, I lived through the moment. Hearing the crowd applauding at the end of giant impacts made me so happy that I could have just burst into tears. After the performance was over, I heard the announcer say my name as one of the student leaders. I looked over at my dad and his smile grew, from that day on, I knew I made him proud.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has taught me that it’s okay to speak your mind and made mistakes. The world isn’t perfect, and neither are we.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Don’t ever say you’re not “good enough.” Everybody is good enough. Some people might learn slower than others and that’s okay! When it comes to performing, you are competing against yourself. No other person besides yourself can stop you from doing whatever you want to accomplish, so give it your all and live in that moment.


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Daniel Romero

Chino High School


Leadership position(s) in music program: Parade Drum Major

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan on attending California Polytechnic State University Pomona where I will pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. I hope to work as a civil engineer where I will work on the highways of Los Angeles to improve their efficiency.

Are there any engineering projects/goals you are passionate about or want to pursue in the future? An engineering project that I want to pursue in the future is the improvement of the highways of Los Angeles. LA has major traffic problems and I want to help remedy the situation. The population of Southern California is growing, which will only lead to further traffic. I would like to prevent this problem before it becomes unbearable.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I am really interested in flags and collect them. I enjoy learning about why flags have similar themes (such as colors, symbols, patterns, etc.) and what they symbolize.

How many flags have you collected? Which are your favorites and why? I have a collection of seventeen flags (I know it’s rather small, but its growing). My favorite flags are the Central American flags. These flags are my favorite, because they all have a similar blue color and design. This is because today's Central American countries all come from the Federal Republic of Central America, a country which lasted until 1841. Each of Central American Flag has some sort of remnant from the earlier country, whether is be a similar color, design, or insignia.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? Outside of music and being a drum major, I really enjoy biking, running, baseball, and math. I really like the outdoors, so I try to go outside as much as possible by biking, running, or playing baseball with friends. And yes, you read that right, I really like math. Ever since I was young I have always been good at math. Though, when I took calculus my junior year, I realized that I really liked it because it connects all past math concepts and it has real world applications. This is partially the reason why I want to do engineering.

Describe your first competition experience: My first band review as drum major was a very rewarding one. I actually performed really well at the Loara Band Review, although I was really panicked in warm ups. As I marched towards the starting line, I calmed myself down. I then called my band to attention and started my opener. While spinning I thought to myself, “Look I’m doing it! It’s not even that bad. I don’t know why people are so afraid to do this. Oh wait, I should probably be concentrating on what I’m doing.” I then brought myself back to concentrating and the rest of my run was actually pretty good.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a band member was performing at the 2016 SCSBOA 6A Field Championships. That year, Chino performed one of its best field shows, “The Concrete Jungle.” The championship run of “The Concrete Jungle” was the best field show run I have ever had. I remember ending the final chord, and tears began to run down my face because I knew our band put all of its passion into its final performance. It was also an amazing feeling medaling at championships as well. As a drum major, my favorite memory was at the Riverside King Band Review. I had a pretty good run there. The cherry on top was saluting to an Air Force Airman. The moment when he saluted back was the best part of that run.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has brought out the best within me. Before being a drum major, I was shy and usually kept to myself. Through my drum major experience, I have become outspoken and ambitious. Being a drum major has also taught me how to be a team player. Throughout marching season, I had to work with the drum major team at Chino. There, I discovered how to work with others to accomplish a task efficiently.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: First, do not just develop your spinning ability, but also your leadership qualities. You have to earn the respect of your band through leadership, not spinning. Yes, spinning can be impressive, but what is more impressive is a leader who can motivate and help their band members. Second, do not expect any band member to do something you will not/cannot do yourself. This means that you are not only responsible to be able to spin, but you are also responsible to be able to do everything that you ask of your band. Whether it be running laps, or playing the music, or even standing at attention. Do not be a hypocrite. Whatever you ask your band to do, do it yourself as well.


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Michael Russell

Western High School


Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major, French Horn Section Leader, and First Chair French Horn

What are your post-high school plans?: I would like to pursue a career in music education.

How long have you wanted to pursue music education? What grade level and/or classes would you like to teach? I have wanted to pursue music education since I was a sophomore. I knew I wanted to do something I enjoyed, and helping others with something I am passionate has always been fun for me. I would like to teach entry-level band classes.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I have special performance socks laid out for each performance I do.

Is there something about the performance socks that makes them special? I guess having the socks is sort of like a countdown towards the end of the season. As soon as they are gone and the performances are done there really is no going back, so I’d really have to make those moments count.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I love gaming, but I really enjoy writing whenever I get the chance. I’m mostly a PC gamer. I enjoy playing Unturned and Team Fortress 2. When I have the time, I usually write concepts and short stories. I also really like writing fantasy novels and comics.

Describe your first competition experience: For my first field show I didn’t march, because I had missed band camp, but when our band won sweepstakes I felt incredibly proud to be in such a group.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory is conducting for my band during our homecoming game. The feeling was liberating.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: I now know more about how to defuse situations, and I can say I know how to further cooperate well with others.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: If you have an opportunity, take it. Don’t wait. Utilize all resources you can get.


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Chance McDonald

Martin Luther King Jr. High School

 

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major and Band President

What are your post-high school plans?: I’m currently in the audition process for the Marine Corp Band.  Alternatively, I plan to attend Riverside Community College and work towards obtaining  my Masters in Music. My dream job, after touring our country with the Marine Corp Band, is to be a high school band director.

As a future band director, what kind of community do you want to build for your students? What non-music qualities/lessons do you hope to teach your students? I would love to build a community of respect and kindness. We all have different gifts and talents given to us by God. I want to be known as a director that truly cares for and inspires students and will not tolerate bullying of any kind. Everyone is special and has something to offer. I would definitely involve students with special needs in my program. I would also share my story with the kids to inspire and give them hope no matter where they are. I didn’t know how to read music and I could barely play my sax when I started King band my freshman year. With hard work you can really do anything! Now, I can read music, play in a symphony with very talented adults, and am a drum major auditioning for the Marine Corp Band. I still can’t believe how blessed I am. As a band director, I would teach by example, making sure that for every critique I give, I say at least ten nice things. Encouragement can help kids improve more than anything. I’d want a band that cares more about each other than winning competitions. Winning is great, but relationships, friendships, and huma kindness last forever.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I have collected trains most of my life and thought my dream was to be a train conductor and build electric train tracks around hospitals for the sick children (I still hope to do that part). I also have two screws in my jaw for my fake teeth.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I love to work with sick children and children with special needs. Being around them makes me so happy! They have the best attitudes.

You love working with sick children and children with special needs. When did that start and what inspired you to do so? My dad was a helicopter pilot for the sheriff’s department and once a year they did what’s called, “Cops for Kids Fly In” at the Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. I was five when I first witnessed the event. I wasn’t allowed in the patient rooms, but they allowed me to help hand out gifts and hang out with the kids who were able to come down and outside to see the helicopters. The event is huge and really opened our eyes to how many families are scared and dealing with so much. Half of Loma Linda Hospital is dedicated to children along with a floor for new babies that need assistance. It’s crazy how many kids are sick, scared, and sometimes alone so mom and dad can continue to work. I'm so thankful I was exposed to this opportunity. We made cards and blankets to donate, and collected donations of gift cards and snacks to hand out to moms and dads for Mother’s and Father’s Day. As the years passed, my mom started volunteering and was able to take me to a few events. Last year we took a small group from band to the Children’s Chemo Clinic to perform for the kids getting treatment. That was such a great day! The music helped the kids take their minds off the chemo for a little while. We handed out little fake saxophones, harmonicas, and guitars, they loved it! As far as my love for the special needs community, most of you know that my youngest brother has autism, thanks to him participating in one competition with me. It has given me a greater awareness of special needs. Growing up, I loved to volunteer with the special needs kiddos at church. I was approached at school and asked if I wanted to volunteer in what they call, “PAWS”.  I think my experience with my brother gave me the confidence to help in this program. I go in one or more days during lunch and I’m assigned a buddy to hang out with. They have different activities throughout the year including prom.

Do you have any suggestions for how others can get involved and help sick children and children with special needs? YES!!!!! I know hospitals have strict rules and guidelines, but they are always looking for volunteers. If not inside the hospital itself, they do many functions for the family members outside and bring the kiddos that are able. Depending on your age, you can ask about different facilities like outpatient clinics and playrooms that you can volunteer in to play with the kiddos. If they won’t allow volunteers at your age, they are always looking for donations like cards, toys, blankets, etc. Maybe do a toy drive with your band!!! You will be surprised by the hugs and tears you will see in the hospital waiting room when you hand someone a gift card or blanket for their kiddo. I personally hope to make train tracks that will go around the hospital, with tunnels from room to room, to give the kids something fun to look at. Who doesn’t love trains!!! Your school probably has a special needs classroom and would love any extra help and support you might like to give.  Some of the kids are severely handicapped, but I always leave a better person and thankful that I was there.

Describe your first competition experience: Wow.... DMSC was my first ever drum major competition.  I was so blessed to have former drum major Leiloni Johnson as a friend and trainer to guide and support me. I remember her saying, “Okay, you’re up,” and I told her, “WAIT, I have  to go to the bathroom!” It was so scary standing out there by myself, but after I performed, it was the greatest feeling ever!

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory was performing at the Arcadia Festival of Bands Band Review as the drum major 2017. When I got out of my salute, the tears just started rolling down my face, because I had fulfilled the dream I had been dreaming for the past four years. To be a small part of earning the baton this year means so much to me. I finally felt as if all the hours of spinning, sweat, and tears paid off.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has been the most rewarding and beneficial experience of my life. It has given me the opportunity to treat freshman differently than I was treated. I loved being a friend and helping out the younger class while being an example to the older ones on how we should treat others.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Remember you are a leader and an example. While in school, at a completion, or at a party, kids are looking at you as a role model. Set a good example and it will benefit future generations. Kindness is always a great leadership quality. Never underestimate the power of the word hello and what a smile could do for a fellow band member! Find one nice thing to say to at least one band member a day, and you will be surprised by how far your encouragement goes.

Did you ever imagine that so many people would be cheering for you and looking up to you? How does it feel being a role model for so many young drum majors? I’m in complete shock and awe with the amazing kids I get to be around and compete with each week.  It is an honor to have anyone standing at the end to give you the greatest recognition, a salute, good job, hug, or a dab! My first seminar, I was honored to meet JP, Devin, and Jacob!  They didn’t know me. I was a little guy with NO drum major experience and they treated me like a best friend. All three were great examples and I just knew I wanted to be like them, cheer people on and give to others the support those three gave to me. DMSC is what I look forward to all year!  I’m incredibly grateful to all my friends. I hope to make you proud with both my words and actions on and off the runway! Having the opportunity to be a mentor this year has been an absolute blast. It has solidified my want to teach!

 

 

 


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Christy Nguyen

Loara High School


Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Parade and Field Drum Major, and Principal Clarinet

What are your post-high school plans?: I plan on attending Cal State Fullerton to pursue my bachelor’s in clarinet performance. After that, I will pursue my master’s degree and possibly an artist diploma.

Is there a dream venue and/or piece you hope to perform one day as a professional musician? One day, I hope to perform Mozart's Clarinet Concerto at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA. When I first started playing clarinet, I watched many different clarinet performances on Youtube and the one that intrigued me the most was Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. It holds a special place in my heart, because it was the piece that made me want to keep playing and take clarinet seriously. Also, the piece itself is well-written as it has expressive and technical passages, which I love. I hope to play this at the Walt Disney Hall, because of the location and its architecture. Its overall aesthetic appeals to me and being in a large city with a diverse population shows how Los Angeles can connect with the rest of the world.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? First things first, I love cats and everything about them; I relate to them on a spiritual level; however, I don’t own a cat. I was introduced to music when I was seven when my parents forced me to take piano lessons, which ended up with me calling it quits a year later. Little did I know that I would come back to music in the summer after seventh grade, picking up the clarinet, and the rest is history.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I would say that my interests and passions ARE music and drum majoring but there are other things outside of those which I enjoy doing. I volunteer with my school’s Key Club and National Honor Society to give back to and better my community. Additionally, I am an editor and reporter for my school’s newspaper.

It's great to hear that you give back and better your community! What kind of volunteer work do you do? The kind of volunteer work that I do includes: park cleanups, passing out water cups at marathons, donating canned food, and helping out at community events.

Describe your first competition experience: What I remember most was definitely the anxiety. I kept over-practicing and trembling, but I was grateful that one of my senior drum majors was there to watch me compete for the first time. Although I had a penalty of ten points and I rushed to finish my run and get it over with, I still had fun. And I had ice cream at home waiting for me.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite memory as a band member was when my band went to CSUF to perform at a wind ensemble festival this year. We performed “Angels in the Architecture” by Frank Ticheli and at the end of the piece, I broke down into tears, because of how beautiful it was and how much it meant to me. Ever since I listened to the piece in eighth grade, I secretly wished to play it, so when my band director told me that we would be playing “Angels in the Architecture,” I didn’t believe him at first. Every rehearsal on this piece was memorable and every festival performance was absolutely phenomenal; we had a standing ovation at our district festival and I couldn’t stop smiling, despite my efforts to keep a straight face. I would say that this year’s performances were hands down the best ones since 2012, when my band played it for the first time. My favorite memory as a drum major was when I led my band at the Riverside King Band Review. Rocky kept taking away my baton, because I habitually spin too much before a parade. Although I had an improvised opener and I hit my shako during the roll off, the best part was when I saluted and an Air Force soldier saluted back at me. I had to mask my excitement and right when we stepped out of the competition zone I was so relieved. Later that day, I grabbed Pieology with my friends for lunch and Rocky texted me saying that I got second place in the military division, and I was in disbelief while I ate my pizza. That was the icing on the cake.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being a drum major has made such a great difference in my life and who I am. I was pretty antisocial and quiet at first, yet I managed to create strong friendships with drum majors. It has taught me what friendly competition is, cheering on, comforting, and understanding my fellow drum majors. It also taught me to open myself up to others, get out of my comfort zone, meet different people from different walks of life, persevere, and it has taught me how to be confident in myself. Being a drum major at my school changed me drastically by giving me the platform to voice any concerns and lead with great influence. Besides that, it taught me to be patient with others, to understand others and situations, to work with others, and to be more confident in myself.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: First, have confidence in yourself. When you are a leader, it is more effective to lead others with confidence in comparison to leading without confidence; it establishes a sense of trust and it allows you to set an example for others to follow as well. Leadership is NEVER about having a title, it is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and being the example. Second, don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others and putting yourself down, because all it will do is take a blow to your self-confidence. Use yourself as a model to improve on and set goals for yourself along your journey. Enjoy every single moment you have because thirty years from now, you will forget the score you earned at a certain parade or competition, but you will always remember how you felt that day. At the Arcadia Festival of Bands, I didn’t score very well, but I vividly remember how fierce I felt the entire time and how I felt euphoric after my run. Third, there will be people who will disagree with you as a leader and a person, people who will try to get underneath your skin, and people who will complain behind your back. All I can say is to never stoop down to other peoples’ levels and have integrity. Be the better person, always, and put away your pride. Be humble and do what is best for the band, not for yourself.

The AUHSD drum majors seem really close. How would you describe being part of that community? It's a great community being around people who I can relate to. Surprisingly, we actually started getting to know each other last summer when one of the drum majors organized a whole group chat with all of the district drum majors. We got to talk to each other at tournaments/parades and congratulate each other, so instead of seeing my fellow drum majors as familiar strangers, I got to see them as people I actually know of and people I got to meet beforehand. The DMSC drum majors in our district are pretty close, specifically Loara, Kennedy, Magnolia, Western, and Katella. Competing and supporting each other at competitions have definitely brought us closer as we salute each other, hang out, spin, and talk during our free time instead of being separate from each other.


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Jordan Sales

Santiago High School (Corona)

Leadership position(s) in music program: Head Drum Major

What are your post-high school plans?: After graduating high school, I hope to attend Cal Poly Pomona. My intended major is nutritional science. After four years of college, I plan to apply to medical school with aspirations of becoming a pediatrician.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? I started karate when I was five years old and have competed in tournaments until I was sixteen. Before becoming a drum major, I was a student teacher in my karate class. Teaching karate made me realize the passion I have for helping others and working with children. My current level is brown belt.

What is the most impressive technique/move you have learned and executed in karate? The most impressive technique I learned in karate was a spinning hook kick.  When I learned this kick, I constantly fell on my butt. The advanced students made it look so effortless. This move requires balance, flexibility and control. It took me awhile to learn how to properly execute the kick, but getting it down was a great feeling. Honestly, if tried to do a spinning hook kick today, I would probably pull a muscle or fall on my butt...

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? I enjoy gardening. Whenever I have free time, I like to arrange succulent plants. Aside from gardening, I also enjoy building Gundam models and hiking.

Describe your first competition experience: I can still vividly remember my first DMSC competition. I was petrified. When I was waiting for my name to be called, my hands would not stop shaking and I had this awful feeling in my stomach. All I wanted was to have a good run. Of course nothing ever goes as planned, but I never gave up.  My first competition was one filled with fear, excitement, and determination.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: My favorite band memory was during one of our field practices for band fest. It was towards the end of rehearsal and everyone just wanted to go home. Some of my band members were moving and talking while they were at attention. Out of frustration I shouted, “You are at band-ten hut why are you moving!?”. My band mates and fellow drum majors broke out into laughter. After realizing what I just said, I started to laugh along with my band. To this day, my friends still tease me about this moment.  

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: I used to be extremely shy and struggled with my self esteem. Becoming a drum major has helped me break out of my shell and develop self confidence. I have matured immensely. Drum majoring is a huge part of my life; it has shown me the true meaning of being selfless.  

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: There will always be people who doubt you. Don’t focus on that. Focus on being the best drum major, leader, and friend you can be. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, because it's not all about winning. It is about doing your best. It is about self improvement and building self confidence. It’s about caring for others and putting them before yourself. It’s about enjoying every competition and learning. At the end of they day it is not your score that defines you, it is your actions.  Don’t be too hard on yourself. Strive to always do your best. Be kind, be patient, be understanding, and above all, be yourself.

Did anyone or anything inspire you to join band or become a drum major? My two older cousins were drum majors before me at Santiago High School. In elementary school, I remember going to watch them compete along other bands in street parades and solo competitions. I was in complete awe. They were part of my inspiration to become a drum major. After joining marching band in freshman year, I wanted to make a positive difference in the program and make the experiences of other band members more enjoyable. I have experienced my own hardships in band and I didn’t want anyone else to feel scared or embarrassed the way I did; this strengthened my desire to become a drum major.

What was your experience as a drum major in the Rose Parade? I will never forget my experience in the Rose Parade. The long hours of practice in the cold, the tears of frustration, and the sore feet were all worth it. Some of my favorite memories in marching band were during those practices. I formed close relationships and inside jokes with many of my band members. The five and a half mile march went by so fast and I wish could savor the moment for just a little longer. Marching in the Rose Parade is a moment that I will never forget. If I had the opportunity to march in the Rose Parade again, I would do it. I would highly encourage others to participate. Even though the practices are difficult, it makes the pay off in the end even more worth it.

Being the Arcadia first place military drum major and one of the DMSC Elite Division drum majors, many young drum majors look up to you. What do you hope those young drum majors learn from you? I hope that the younger drum majors learn that it is not about winning medals or titles. It is not about being the best spinner or conductor. Being a drum major is about the hard work you put into your passion. It is about doing your best every time you perform. Being a drum major is about helping and encouraging others, and bettering yourself as a friend, leader, and a person. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. Use those mistakes as a learning tool for self improvement. Doing your best is more than anyone could ask for. There will be people who pray for your failure, there will be people who will say mean things about you. Please don’t focus on that. Please don't compare yourself to others. Focus on the great friends you meet during parades and competitions. Focus on the fun you have while competing. Scores and medals do not define you as a drum major, it is your actions, passion, and hard work that defines you.