2019 Senior Spotlight


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Kevin Dajay

Mayfair High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Drum Major of Mayfair Monsoon Marching Corps and percussionist the Symphonic & Wind Ensemble.

What are your post-high school plans? - In the summer, I plan to march DCI as a drum major or front ensemble member for Santa Clara Vanguard or Blue Devils. In the fall, RCC Marching Tigers. In the winter, marching Dark Sky, Vessel, or Catalyst Percussion. On the life-side of things, I want to become a nurse because I want to help people be healthy and take care of those who need it the most.

What is something your fellow drum major may not know about you? - I am the first drum major at my school to have a three year term.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - Going out and traveling with friends.

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade, or field) - Absolutely terrifying. I was nervous and did not know how to feel about performing from a few friends at my first DMSC competition to almost hundreds of people at parade and field competitions. I was scared of failing and embarrassing myself and worried about how I did rather than just enjoying it. My advice to those performing for the first time: Imagine it is just your practice run but you brought a few friends over. That’s what I always think every major performance I have. But most importantly: Enjoy your performance!!!

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - My favorite memory out of all my four years of marching band was conducting my last show from the first note to the last release. It is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences because all the struggles and downfalls you have faced throughout those years of being a drum major and band member turn into learning experiences, thoughtful memories, and achievements when you finish your last show ever. A bitter but sweet moment of your high school marching band career, but one you can never forget and will always cherish.

How was being a drum major made a difference in your life/ changed who you are? - I was a quiet, shy, and isolated myself most of my middle school life. When I joined marching band my freshman year, I opened up a little, but still kept to myself. When I became drum major, it forced (but taught) me how to be open to other people, not because I wanted to, but needed to. It gave me a new perspective on what a leader truly is and how they act inside and outside of the marching arts. Most importantly, being a drum major taught me to not be afraid to take risk. From reserved and quiet to openly passionate about anything I do and bringing change where I saw fit and making lifetime friends. I hope that I inspired many people from the accomplishments I made at DMSC and at my corps.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum major? - Failure is a lesson we can use to succeed as it not only defines our ability to keep moving forward, but our reflection of who we are to have the strength to get up and be an improved person everyday. Go take risks and fail as you please and do with what you will learn from it. Because without it, you can never understand the joys of risks, redemption, and the beauty of failing successfully. Rome was not built in a day, neither is leadership and skill.


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Brian Wong

Diamond Ranch High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - 2016-2018 Assistant Drum Major, 2018-2019 Parade Drum Major, 2018-2019 Trombone Co-Section Leader

What are your post-high school plans? - I plan to go to Cal Poly Pomona as a Criminology Major, become a personal trainer at LA Fitness, and eventually become an entrepreneur and open my own gym

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - On my very first day of band camp during freshman year, i wore khaki pants and had ice cream for breakfast which caused me to almost pass out. The following day, my director told the ensemble “an underclassman decided to have ice cream for breakfast and tell people about it, SO LETS TAKE A LAP FOR HIM.” Since then, I have learned from that experience, and have improved my breakfast selection choices

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - I enjoy playing guitar, singing, and I’m very passionate about powerlifting

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - The Duarte Parade was my first Parade competition that I was being judged on. I remember being very hyped up for it, and wanted to compete with a new routine I had constructed. I had my brand new dome and crown on my mace, and once I got to the warm up area, I dropped my mace, and was so quick to grab it that I did not realize only the crown was slightly dented. Assuming that my mace was all scratched up and dented, I was able to let loose and have fun through competition, without worrying whether or not I would mess up my mace. I learned from that day that 90% of all our every day challenges are mind over matter, and the right mindset will take you much farther than state of the art training. I ended up taking 1st place that day, and when I went to receive my award, I accidentally wiped my sweat with my hand. I quickly realized that I should have waited 5 more seconds, but little mistakes are big learning experiences.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - My favorite memory as a drum major was when 1 got called up for 1st place Mace Drum Major at the 2018 Arcadia Band Review. Watching Diamond Ranch in 2014, I saw Drum Major Skylar Chang win 1st place, and from that day, I aspired to follow in his footsteps to be a great spinner, but more important to be a humble leader who gives the credit away, but will gladly take the blame for my group. After receiving the award, I was in shock that I had achieved my dream at the time, and seeing my band cheer from the stands made that moment very heartwarming and memorable. 

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - Being a Drum Major has definitely changed my life because before marching band, I was very cocky and only focused on my own needs. The tryout process for drum major has humbled me more and more each year I tried out, because I had great drum majors passing down their wisdom to me. Not everybody is able to lower themselves to another person and see from their perspective. It’s very easy to complain about trivial problems this day and age. Humility is admitting that our problems are BS, and that there are many others out there who would give anything to be in our shoes. As the drum major, I am there for the band and not vice versa. The peers that I lead are my team, family, and most importantly my world. After taking on the position, I became very hypersensitive to my actions wherever I was because I am a representative of my program. I began to appreciate my life a lot more after taking the job because nothing is consistent in life. The only constant in life is change, and embracing that fact will improve life tenfold. 

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? - Being a Drum Major is very rewarding, but also very physically and mentally taxing. The easy part is spinning, conducting, teaching, and delegating tasks. It’s easy to be in the white uniform and accept the praise, and this is what the community sees. The hard part is everything else that comes with the position, including band drama, knowing that everything you do has a big impact, and constantly being blamed for things that are not even remotely your fault. Anybody can spin a stick, wave their hands, and give directions. Being a leader isn’t a skill that is learned; it is who you are as a person. It’s about demanding the best for yourself and earning the respect of your peers with self-confidence and leading by example. Leaders are not made overnight, but rather conditioned over a period of time where growth and maturity are present. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t built in a day, and neither are great leaders. It’s about being the first to arrive and last to leave at any band event. No matter what happens in your own life, leave your emotions at the door, because you have 100 other people who are counting on you to lead them. Be understanding, but also know when to draw the line when someone is taking advantage of your kindness. There is a fine line between asserting yourself and being a jerk. A selfless leader gives away the credit, but takes all the blame. When competing, it’s easy to get caught up in trophies or scores, but those are just numbers and awards that collect dust. The memories, however, stick forever which is a long time. It’s not about who you were, or who you are today, but rather who you want to become and the price you’re willing to pay to get there. These qualities shape well rounded drum majors that eventually lead by example and create new leaders that carry on unique traditions and values the program represents. Also, don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it. Take the time to do what you want to do, enjoy it while it lasts, and make it unforgettable. Give yourself a reason to keep moving forward and something to take with you and pass on for the rest of your life.


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Victoria Sanchez

Bassett High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Conducting Drum Major

What are your post-high school plans? - Attend UCLA to major in civil engineering and minor in music. From there, I want to help in designing buildings for cities with continuing in music along with that.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - I love Broadway shows and will happily belt along my favorite tunes.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - Besides music and being a drum major, I have a passion for math. Ever since I was young, math has just been a subject I could immerse myself in. I always loved the way it could essentially predict and portray the patterns and events we see everyday and greatly appreciate the beautiful complexity of it. I also love playing video games. I especially love the Fire Emblem series and love playing Smash Bros Ultimate as Corrin (even though I’m not very good at it).

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - So this year has been the first year my band has competed in field show competition. I have competed with another school as a performer, but this was my first experience as the drum major. I was so nervous but it never really hit me until I was on the podium looking across the field at my band. They all stood tall and proud. They were ready to give it their all. Throughout the performance, I couldn't help but smile and it was one of the proudest moments as drum major. As we marched off the field, I knew all those hours put in were worth it. I was just so wonderful to feel my nervousness and fear melt away and just become this immense sense of pride and happiness.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - I don't have a particular moment as my favorite, but it's more like a moment that is created over and over. I've been drum major for 3 years so I've seen the growth of many people and how they have improved in so many aspects. Really, my favorite memories are the ones where I see someone change for the better because of band. Some people find their friend group, some become more confident in their abilities and in themselves, and others simply become a step closer to the best version of themselves.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - Being a drum major has honestly made me enjoy my high school career and generally life more. I have always wanted to be the person that would be able to help others and be the one others looked up to for guidance. As drum major, I feel that this purpose of mine has been fulfilled. Through this, I have become more confident and happy. I get to fulfill my purpose while also doing something I so much enjoy: conducting.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? - To remember why they wanted to become drum major in the first place. Sometimes the position becomes overwhelming and you may want to just wish you didn't have to deal with it. At times like that, remember what you are meant to do. As drum major, you guide, teach, and the lead the band. All that stems from you having your own purpose and hope for the group. Everyone has their own purpose for becoming a leader and each purpose turns into fuel for them to continue leading. Just stay true to your initial reason to become drum major and the pieces should fall into place.


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Bryan Nguyen

Rancho Alamitos High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Drum Major, Trombone Section Leader

What are your post-high school plans? - attend college with a major in Biology

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - I'm left-handed and I only enjoy eating food if it's spicy enough to make me sweat and cry

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - I'm really interested in marine biology and the oceanology. Humans know more about space than we do about our oceans. It would be exciting to discover new things in the waters. Maybe name an animal or something.

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). -  My first DMSC competition was this year, the Bellflower Masterclass. I had no idea what to do but lots of people helped me figure out my way. I remember I met Rocky, who I've never met before. Apparently, I'm his “grandchild” because my coach was his student. When I was on the line to perform, I couldn't see the flag so I was stuck at attention for a good 10 seconds before someone yelled at me to go. Even though I was a mess, everyone was so supportive and happy to see me and that inspired me to compete for as much as I could

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - My favorite memory is going to the Chino Band Review and watching all the big bands perform at night. It was the only time where the band could stay up late and enjoy ourselves in the stands

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - Being a drum major made me realize that I am capable of leaving a legacy behind for my school to follow. I realized that I could set the example for everyone else in my school to follow so that they could succeed. Because of this, it inspired me to motivate other people to achieve their goals so I could help others grow even after I leave. 

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? - It's easy to be hard on yourself and want to give. Hard times only beat you down so you can get back up better than ever. But the most important thing to do is to always remember the reason why you became a drum major in the first place. 


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Olivia Baeza

Santiago High School (Corona)

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Senior Co-Drum Major/Head Field Drum Major

 What are your post-high school plans? - At this point in the school year I’d love to just graduate and live on a very nice rock and wear a cowboy hat. More realistically and long-term though, I’m going to school for nursing but I'm still not committed to a college yet. I'd like to get my BSN and perhaps from there go on to become a Physician's Assistant.

 What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? – I used to be really involved in sports! I was in gymnastics, track, played soccer, and more recently I played hockey. I actually still roller blade all the time because I work as a skating carhop for a Drive-In restaurant chain. Though if I hadn’t joined band and continued playing sports when I was younger, I probably would’ve ended up as a Santiago Cheerleader. Isn’t life crazy? 

 What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? – I can’t say I partake in many non-band affiliated activities, but I really enjoy spending time with my friends I don’t get to see during the week who go to different school or have since graduated. I also love to draw! I haven’t been able to as much as of late due to school and college stuff but if I’m not at practice or working on homework, I am most likely drawing in one of my old torn up sketchbooks that I carry with me. I wouldn’t say I’m all that talented but it’s all in good fun.

 Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - My first DMSC competition was at Glendora in 2017. While I wasn't the only one from my school competing, I got there way earlier than my fellow Santiago boys and ended up befriending a few of the Glendora Drum Majors which was a wonderful opportunity to branch out! On top of being incredibly nervous, it began to rain and they called for inclement weather protocol a few minutes before my run. Not being able to spin in uniform like I had practiced, I was even MORE nervous than before. Who knew my hands could shake that much? I sure didn't. Walking down to the line and waiting for my name to be announced was terrifying, and once the green flag was waved I'm pretty sure I blanked out because I couldn't and still don’t recall a single thing between the flag and the sound of the final whistles. Though my run wasn't anything special, the sigh of relief after a first competition was absolutely unforgettable. It's as if the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders, that you're incapable of feeling stress of any kind from that moment on and have found oneself at eternal rest via Astral Projection. I soon found out that feeling only lasts until the next Saturday :] Also I got to ride in the Glendora utility cart so that was pretty cool.

 What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - While I have adored just about every moment I've had the privilege of spending with my band mates and DMSC friends, I would say the entire experience leading up to and the Rose Parade itself takes the top spot. Spending countless hours working up my beating of time, getting the synced routine for saluting the cameras just right with the other two Drum Majors, performing at an orphanage, our field show at Band Fest, even waking up at an ungodly hour to travel to Pasadena was unforgettable because I got to spend it with some of my very best friends. I met so many band kids from the Australian Band's Marching Koalas, the Green Band from Kyoto, Japan, and ran into some of my Southern California friends in the PCC Honor Band! I even saw master photographer himself Jayson Antonio on the parade route (Well, rather HEARD him. The man was yelling at me.) and couldn't help but smile knowing that so many people I knew were finally seeing our months of practice come to fruition. I actually couldn't lift my arms over my head for a few days after the dreaded five and a half mile march and my right shoulder still hurts from it, but it was definitely one for the books and a once in a life time opportunity. I will forever owe my experience to my band's hard work and dedication that allowed us to be selected for such an event. I mean, how many people can say they've lead a band down iconic Colorado Boulevard on the morning of January 1st? 

 How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? – While I’ve learned the importance of consistent hard work and how to build confidence, I think the most valuable lesson I’ll take from being  a Drum Major is (and I know it sounds harsh) that not everyone is going to like you. No matter how you present yourself, no matter the lengths you go to in order to change someone’s mind, no matter how to a ‘T’ you follow the rules and directions, it may just never work and that’s okay. Comments are just comments, dwelling on non-constructive criticisms will only drag down you and those who are saying it, so try your best to realize you’re doing your job to the best of your ability and to rise above it! I know this just sounds like more generic advice but it’s allowed me to change my perspective on leadership as a whole, not just in the band setting.  As long as you continue to always be kind and hold a neutral regard towards everyone, you’re doing the right thing and it will turn out alright. I wish I could send junior year me a postcard saying all this, but I feel lucky that I’m able to move forward with such knowledge. Brush it off! You’re doing great! –Love, Future Olivia :]

 What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? – Gosh, I think my advice can only go so far, everyone’s experiences are so different. When I first became Drum Major my junior year, I read so many articles and asked my older band mates what it’s like to have a position like this, and even then their words didn’t prepare me for the unspoken rules and duties that you have to uphold as a student leader that vary from program to program. As I’ve witnessed through first and secondhand accounts, leadership isn’t a title, it’s a way of being. Honestly, you don’t even need a title or formal position to be an influential and great leader, of course it can help, but the most important aspect of being a role model is how you choose to act. Being a master spinner or conductor isn’t what makes you a good Drum Major. A leadership position is all about the personality you have and what kind of attitude you choose to put forth, even in the face of adversity! Of course keep practicing the physical skills of spinning and conducting but really focus on being the leader you wish you had, or if you’re lucky like I was, be the leader that you DID have when you were an underclassman and who made you want to attain the position and carry on the spirit of your program. And make time to make friends! It’s all so busy and goes by so fast that one day you’ll enjoy reminiscing on the best and worst of everything with those you met along the way, I know that I’ll treasure memories I’ve made with you all at DMSC and beyond. Thank you. Best of skill!


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Mervyn Samayoa

Anaheim High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Assistant Drum Major of the Colonist Band and Pageantry

What are your post-high school plans? - I will be attending Fullerton College. After that I will transfer to a UC.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - I play tuba and I am part of my school’s color guard team. I am also the first drum major from Anaheim High School to compete in DMSC.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - My interests outside of music and being a drum major is performing as a color guard member. There is such a trill when you perform on a personal level where you connect to the audience. Aside from spinning a military baton and mace, I also know how to perform with rifle, sabre, flag, and swing flag. I find it easy to switch between the style and techniques of spinning as a drum major and a color guard member.

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - My first competition was amazing and thrilling! It was a field competition. I felt such pride to be able to lead the band to competition on the field with the other drum majors. It’s a great feeling to conduct the band and feel the music as you stand on the podium. After the performance, it was time for the awards ceremony. It was a wonderful feeling to be with the head drum major, color guard captain, and the drumline captain to accept the awards for our hard work.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - My favorite memory as a drum major is leading the band during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in San Francisco on March 16, 2019 which happened to be the same day of my 18th birthday! I was astonished by the amount of spectators on the parade route. As I was warming up right before the parade, I caught the attention of a San Francisco Chronicle journalist who came up to me and interviewed me. I was mentioned on the Newspaper later that day. I was proud to have my name on the newspaper and to represent the City of Anaheim and Anaheim High School all the way from San Francisco.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - I learned to be more confident in myself and to be able to give that confidence to other members of the group. I learned to have the ability to inspire people and inspire the band and color guard in performance. It made a difference in my life by showing me how to be highly responsible and reliable. The biggest impact it had on me is that it allowed me to flourish and grow as a leader.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? -Do not be afraid. Believe in yourself in whatever you do. Before I perform, I do a mental performance in my head so I know exactly how and what I will do to succeed. Another piece of advice is to practice. You can’t expect to toss perfectly and have a strong catch if you haven’t practiced before it is performed.


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Matthew J. Tobilla

Eleanor Roosevelt High School 

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Head Field Drum Major & Vice President of Band

What are your post-high school plans? - While serving in the US Navy Reserve, I plan on attending Riverside City College and attain my AD in Nursing. After this, I plan on getting my BS in Nursing at Loma Linda University. After I get my college degrees in Nursing, I plan on joining the US Navy full time.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - My favorite family recipe is Beef Stroganoff, which both my grandfathers made for the crew on the ships while they served in the Navy. 

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - Outside of band, I absolutely love the art of marksmanship, food and animals. I admire the sport of marksmanship because of its demand for precision. I love food because I come from family of chefs and we are always trying new culinary dishes.  I love animals because they are a part of the ecosystem that we all share ~ specifically I like Manatees and Kermode Bears. 

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - My first year competing, I remember panicking and pacing a lot at the 2018 Bellflower competition. I was having a small panic attack because it was my first time competing. I didn’t really know any of the other drum majors. However, at the end of the competition I made many new friends to which I can now call good friends.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - I don’t really have many favorite memories because every moment is a favorite moment of mine. From bad to good, the memories I make along the way are what build the house that is my legacy I leave behind.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - Being a drum major has made me more patient while being able to work hard in achieving goals at top efficiency.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? - Be kind, be focused and be strong. In the end there is a goal that must be met but all the while there are others that need help to reach their goals as well. One of the many sayings I’ve heard in my travels is “Plant the trees to which you will never sit under”.  It is because those trees, will be a part of forest that will prosper for a lifetime.


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Hazel Corona

Loara High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Parade Drum Major 

What are your post-high school plans? - attend Fullerton college and purse my passion for cosmetology/dance.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - I’m in colorguard! 

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - I love to dance, and guard really takes up some time of my day. So i dance practically every day! I also like thrifting and going to mountains and beaches. I also like collecting streetwear clothes and reselling them.

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - DMSC: i was sooooo nervous and i knew that i wanted to make a good first impression, so when i went up for my first run, i last minute cut out some tosses. Love getting an adrenaline rush after i perform. Parade: it was at the placentia band review and it was raining!! i was definitely nervous but i stayed complete and had a beautiful run. Field: I was a lil ol freshman in guard and spinning anything was new to me, but i love to perform so i wasn’t really nervous.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - My favorite memory is after my final run at Arcadia; which by the way was an amazing run, i broke down into tears with rocky because i was so emotional that it was my last run.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - ever since sophomore year, i’ve developed skills i never knew i could acquire. i’ve definitely become more disciplined because of being a drum major. being a drum major also teaches you patience and you learn that there’s only one of you and a whole bunch of band kids. so when it comes to them, you know you’ve got to set the perfect example.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? - Never kiss up to your band director for a drum major position. Earn your position.


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Nathaniel Romero

Arnold O. Beckman High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program?: Drum Major of the Patriot Marching Band, Student Director of the Beckman High School Mixed Chorus

 What are your post-high school plans?: Attending the Oberlin Conservatory for Music in the fall of 2019 pursuing a B.M. in Vocal Performance. After doing such, I plan on getting my M.M. and hopefully D.M.A in order to become an Orchestral/Symphony/Choral Director at the High School or International Level.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you?: Honestly, one thing I do not mention to most people is the fact I have composed various major Orchestral and Choral works that are in the process of publication and distribution.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major?: Outside of music, I have always had a passion for Chemistry and Architecture. Every now and then, I resort to watching videos on the history of different architectures around the world, along with various Chemistry videos that display tons and tons of experiments.

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field).: If I am to be honest, I barely remember the first competition. I believe it was Bellflower in 2018. Going there, meeting new people was not an issue, I happened to bounce around back and forth speaking to about 5 people within 4 minutes. It was a blast. Being the type of guy to do both Spinning and Conducting, I grew a passion for conducting and happened to have stuck to it since then.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member?: Definitely at Arcadia. When Beckman High School was announced to have won the ‘John Phillip Sousa Award’ for playing the best Sousa March, I assumed we had to go up and receive the award. Subsequently, I get up, have everyone else in my leadership get up, and we begin to walk- next thing you know, my Assistant Drum Major grabs me by behind pulls me down to my seat telling me we aren’t going to get the award. For a quick thinking move, I’ll admit that was necessary, else I would’ve gone up on my own to receive an imaginary award. But by far, best arcadia experience ever. 

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are?: Being the Drum Major has taught me not only responsibility over a large multitude of people, but it has brought to me some patience. Having patience to lead an entire band with the help of section leaders and your director is a good skill to have in life, and frankly, it has made me a much more patient person. 

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors?: Simple: Have Fun. Sometimes you will get caught up in your stress and responsibilities of your role, but you have to remember; You’re not the only one in band. My goal in my marching band was to make this year the best year for everyone. Make it the year where freshmen can say “wow, remember our freshmen year?” for the good reasons. My band may not have done as well as previous years, but what matters the most is the experience. It’s just as my former band director Jim Kollias use to tell us, “ Trophies don’t matter. You will not remember what Trophies you got in Marching Band 10 to 20 years from now. What you WILL remember are the memories; that one time at arcadia, that one time on the bus, that one time- you get the idea.” The only advice I give is: Have Fun.


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Blake Murray

Norco High

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - Assistant Drum Major/Head Parade Drum Major 2017, Head Drum Major 2018

What are your post-high school plans? - I plan to attend either The United States Air Force Academy or THE Ohio State University as part of the Air Force ROTC.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - Those who may have been around me more often may know that I will be commissioning into the US Air Force, but most do not know that I am very fascinated with aviation. Flying is what I enjoy the most and there are lots of facts about the aviation and airline industry that many wouldn’t know, and most drum majors wouldn’t know this about me.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - My major interests outside of being a drum major is mainly anything that has to do with aviation. No matter where I am, I will always look up into the sky if I hear engines roaring above me and if planes are low enough in the sky I like to try and identify the type and airline. When hanging out with friends, I’ll get caught staring into the sky, and living close to an airport doesn’t help my case. I love flying and enjoy every moment I’m at or near an airport.

 Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - My first parade competition was the SCSBOA Placentia Band Review, and that day was both exciting and nerve racking. Having had no prior experience on the street before Placentia my junior year, I didn’t know that I could do certain things like walking to the parade line before the competition and with no instructor with me I had to figure out how to warm up properly and hope my technique was good for being in front of judges for the first time. Having watched drum majors from other schools before me, I knew what I needed to do and had an idea of what a competition was going to be like, but when I got up to the line my heart was pounding and all I could do was think about my routine and hope my cotton gloves and gauntlets didn’t get in the way of spinning. After saluting the American Flag and judge it was smoother sailing, I only had to worry about cutting the band off right as we passed the end competition line. 

 What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - My favorite memory as being drum major are the football games on Friday Nights. Even though the days were long for all of us, being down on the field and hanging out with all our friends is one of the best parts of band. Being the Drum Major, I get to walk around and meet with members all throughout the band and I get to talk to everyone, from the youngest freshman to the oldest senior, and share a laugh here or there with many people, and that is what is most memorable to me. The comradery that we have between band members is the best thing as a drum major to have before starting parade season and is something I will never forget.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - Being a drum major has given me the opportunity to learn how to more efferently work with a diverse team of individuals but also how to lead a large group of people with much pressure put on both our band and of myself while leading. Being a drum major has taught me many things that will have helped prepare me for my future career in the military, those including communication, teamwork, management, patience, and service. I have been tested repeatedly on these skills throughout two seasons and at the end of my final season, I was a much better leader able to take on the toughest of challenges my director would throw at me to handle.  

 What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? – To future band members who aspire to one day take on the enormous responsibilities that is Drum Major, there are a couple of things that are important to know before you take the baton and wear the uniform. First, it is important to remember that there will be a lot thrown at you and only a small amount of time to work through the problems that have been put on your shoulders. However, always remember that you are part of a team that you will lead onto the parade route, when there’s too many items on your to-do list remember your teammates and work with your section leaders who are appointed to help you in order to solve problems. Once you figure out these things, your life along with those of your fellow leaders and band members will be so much more enjoyable. One last piece of advice is to remember you are a representative of your band’s organization and that of its members. When you march down the parade route or on the field receiving the award for your band, you are representing the many people who make up your school’s band, don’t forget that and know that you will always be looked upon as an example to others and first person your band director will blame because someone isn’t at attention. These are the most important things to know when assuming the position of Drum Major or when considering it. What’s also important is to not consume HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN-SYRUP, a message from my instructor to you.




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Christopher Cantuba

Chino Hills High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? – Back when I was a part of band in 8th grade (2014-2015), I was a drum major, trumpet section leader, and high brass captain.

What are your post-high school plans? – After high school, I plan to attend Mt. San Antonio College where I will then get my Associate’s in Science Degree for my Commercial Flight Major. On top of that, I plan to possibly find a second major, but I have yet to find another major I’d like to take up. Besides school, I plan on reengineering the common military baton and Scottish mace. I would like to create a new military baton of my own design and possibly manufacture enough to sell to drum majors of all bands and give to those who seek to succeed in competition. If successful, I will then give away free military batons to those who win the honor of receiving one in the future of DMSC competition.

 What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? – I’m allergic to bananas and avocados. I’m not in band and haven’t been in band for all my years in high school. I practice EVERY day (no joke). 

 What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? – Outside of being a drum major, I like to hike, adventure, and explore new places with a group of friends. I generally love hanging out with my friends anywhere because any time with them is a good time.

 Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). – I was beyond terrified to be performing in front of so many other drum majors that had way more experience than I did at the time. On top of that, I was even terrified of the judges as well since it was my first time being judged by officials. I was such an introvert at the time, I didn’t talk to much people other than this one person from Stauffer Middle School. I specifically remember finishing my run and turning to walk away after dismissing my band. I was so caught up in my own world and worried about my score so much that I totally didn’t notice the group of Glendora drum majors waiting to salute me a few feet away from the end of the competition area. Surprisingly, I got an 86 on my first run.

 What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? – My favorite memory as a drum major was when I called all the drum majors to attention at the end of a DMSC competition. It was at Santiago High School (Corona) in 2018 when I took 2nd place in the “Elite” General Classification. The drum major who took first place (Alex Seim) wasn’t there to attend awards. When the staff asked for the General Classification leader to come up and assist the Conducting Classification leader to dismiss the drum majors, he wasn’t there to go up. Instead, the staff then asked for the 2nd place recipient to come up and fill in. I was so shocked to know that I was able to go up for the first time in years since 8th grade to call a band of people to attention. It felt so nostalgic being able to yell out “Band, Ten, Hut” and having a group that felt like a band to me. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop smiling and everyone saw that.  

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? – In 8th grade, I wasn’t good at my instrument like the other drum majors. I was only good at spinning some stick (otherwise known as my military baton). When high school came around and I was disowned by the band in freshman year, I disconnected myself from band and I continued spinning the stick and became good at it. Though I wasn’t in band like everyone else in DMSC competition, I became good at what I did, and what I did was spin a stick. People then took note of how good I was and I was happy to show off everything I know when it came to spinning a stick. This stick then meant so much more to me every day I became better. Random people on the streets asked me what the stick was that I was spinning and I would then explain to them that it’s not just some ordinary stick. This stick I spun was my baton. I become better and better at spinning a baton to the point where friends from DMSC would ask me to teach them something. That’s when I found out I was impressing people. Not just because I was spinning a baton, but because I was able to do it without being in band nor having an instructor in my years of high school. It got to the point where I became an inspiration to those who wanted to become a drum major one day. I always say that I’m not a drum major and I’m just really good at spinning a stick, but I somehow became proud of what I do. Being a drum major taught me that being a good leader starts within yourself. I created myself through discipline in learning and advancing my skills as a drum major on my own. With that, I then find myself being happy to give as much help to anybody. 

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? – Take advantage of what you can when it comes to learning and winning. People say that winning isn’t important. In my opinion, everyone is a winner either way. There are multiple areas that you can win in. You can possibly have the goal to win a DMSC competition. Some people would count gaining a large amount of friends as a win. Winning can be as little as being brave enough and being able to go up and do a competition run. Truthfully, winning isn’t everything, but it’s good to win something that you’d like.


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Branden Gu

Foothill High School

What is your leadership position(s) in your music program? - flute/piccolo section leader, instrument crew

What are your post-high school plans? - I haven't made a decision on college just yet but I know I will be majoring in math and I will try to keep performing music in whatever ensembles I join in college.

What is something your fellow drum majors may not know about you? - I am the first drum major from Foothill to ever compete in DMSC.

What are your interests/passions outside of music and being a drum major? - Literally all I do at home other than practice or study is sleep so I guess I'm pretty passionate about sleeping?

Describe your first competition experience (DMSC, parade or field). - I performed terribly during my first competition for DMSC at Beckman but it was honestly so much fun because everyone there was so nice and supportive. I'm pretty introverted and I didn't really know many people but I did get to talk to some other drum majors and it was a great experience.

What is your favorite memory as a drum major/band member? - I've made so many friends in band and I've met some cool people from DMSC but there's not really a single favorite memory that I have. Every moment with these people is special to me and I will cherish all of the memories I've made.

How has being a drum major made a difference in your life/changed who you are? - I'm not officially a drum major at my school and have only been competing at DMSC during my senior year but I think being a drum major for this short period of time has really allowed me to interact with different people from all over SoCal, something I most likely would not have been able to do without competing in DMSC.

What advice would you like to pass on to future generations of drum majors? - Don't be afraid of messing up. Don't try to make mistakes but when you do make mistakes, make them apparent so you know what to fix next time. Learn from all of your failures so you can come back stronger next time.