Advice For Marching Band Drum Majors: A Dozen Considerations

! MusTech.Net has been around for ten years... all posts are valuable, but please note that this post is older. Check out our newest posts for the latest! - Dr. J. Pisano

Update (6/1/2007): Hey current and future drum majors, This article is being read dozens of time a day (by people just like you) and there is still no discussion on this article. Please leave us a line, tell us about you, your band -what you experience as a drum major, fears with tryouts etc. We would love to hear from you and have a conversation with you! Let’ start a conversation about this today! Again you can remain anonymous if you would like or provide a link to your band page in the website box at the end of this article! ~J. Pisano :)
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Lately, MUSicTECHnology.net has been searched a lot for “drum major help” and “drum major advice”. I guess it’s that time of the year! In August of last year, I had a student submit an article about helpful drum major warm-ups and I published it. It was well done, very insightful and will provide another great reference for current drum majors or those seeking to be a drum major.

As a marching band director, conductor and adjudicator, I have specific ideas about what I look for when considering a drum major and what is expected of them throughout the year. I have composed a list of a dozen items that I feel are necessary attributes for a good drum major to have.

Each band director will have their own ideas about what constitutes a good candidate for a drum major or a good drum major. This list is not exhaustive but it does provide a good framework for thought.

There is one pre-requisite that all drum major candidates must have before any of the following is considered and that is a strong desire to actually be a drum major. Some people may have all the qualities listed in this article and more but if they don’t really have the desire to become a drum major then they should not consider it as a matter of practicality.

1. Drum majors must be masters of meter, rhythm and time:
A drum major that does not have a good sense of rhythm and an “internal clock” to keep and provide a tempo is not much use on the field.

2. Drum majors must be clear and concise in their conducting patterns:
A drum major that does not provide a clear ictus and an even takt is doing more harm than good to the ensemble. Clear, large, easily visible patterns are more useful than fancy and ornate ones.

3. Drum majors must be respected by their peers:
A drum major that does not have the respect of their peers will find themselves having a very difficult time being in the leadership role.

4. Drum majors must be respected by their directors:
A person that has not earned the trust and approval of their directors will find themselves not being a drum major in the first place.

5. Drum majors need to be disciplined:
If a drum major is undisciplined in their day to day routines and with their course work, they will not be disciplined on the field. In order to be an effective drum major, scores and routines need to be memorized, resolving field placement issues needs to be second nature and there are a host of other things that need to organized, deployed and implemented by the drum major. Unorganized people will find these tasks daunting if not impossible.

6. Drum majors must have a resilient personality:
Being a drum major is not for the meek. There will be times when you will feel pressure from both your peers and directors. Drum majors need to be able to channel all the feedback they get, both positive and negative, into the proper places and learn and grow from it.

7. Drum majors must have a commanding presence:
The drum major must execute their whistle commands and vocal commands with authority. They must direct with confidence. They must act the leader, play the leader and become the leader that the drum major role demands.

8. Drum majors must have the heart of a servant:
The drum major is not an all glory role nor should it be thought as such. In actuality, the drum major is a servant on multiple levels. They serve the ensemble, they serve the composers, they serve the directors, they serve their school or organization and most importantly they serve the musicians and drum majors of tomorrow by providing a model and blazing a path for them.

9. Drum majors are part of a team and they need to be be an integral member of the team:
The drum major is a key component in a larger community, the band itself. The best leaders are both leaders AND “team players”. The drum major doesn’t have to have all the answers; however, they need to know where to get them and more importantly: how to work through them when needed. The band is a group and every single person has their own important role.

10. Drum majors need to be in good physical shape:
Directing the ensemble from the field is exhausting. Drum majors are called upon to climb ladders, run up and down the field, wield the mace, direct while moving backwards and deal with a lot of other mental and physical challenges. A person who is not in shape may find themselves in a medical predicament that they do not want nor need to be in.

11. Drum majors need to be huge supporters of the band and inspirational:
There are few people that can inspire the band to get “pumped” like their own drum majors. Drum majors need to be able to inspire the band to be the best that they can be and after a hard day of performing or rehearsing, the drum major needs to not only reflect on what needs to be fixed but also what was done well. The band members require constant encouragement and feedback.

12. Drum majors need to realize they are human too.
Often times it seems the weight of the “world” is brought to the shoulders of the drum major. A drum major is not super human, nor are they expected to be. A good drum major is able to let down at times and enjoy what is happening around them. Mistakes will be made, learn from them. I was once told that perfection is the enemy of true excellence. Nothing will ever be “perfect” but we can make things better and we can be excellent! True perfection is unattainable and if you focus on every little thing that is going wrong you will never realize the amazing things your band has accomplished on their journey.

The drum major is not alone in these roles and the burden of theses responsibilities are carried by many. The directors, advisors, officers, section leaders, squad leaders, and the members themselves all share and are part of the “community”. To be an effective leader you must be able to see the “big picture” and realize that every single band member, audio/visual and band managers included, have large roles to play. All members are part of the “whole” and when the band is excited about being the band (Esprit de Corp) and everyone is functioning in their capacities -success will, no doubt, follow.

I would appreciate your comments or additional thoughts! Please drop us a line and/or leave a note of encouragement for all those reading this post by replying below!

Pisano Sig.

[tags] marching band, drum major, music, advice, tips, help [/tags]
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Fine Arts at Grove City College, PA and the Vice President of TI:ME. He also writes for DCI Magazine, In-Tune Monthly and has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the help! I’ve been using this site for the last few weeks while writing an application essay for the position of drum major in my band.

  • http://www.mustech.net J. Pisano

    Anonymous,

    Hey! Thanks for being the first to write! I wish you well with you essay. If you get (or anyone) get a chance, let us know what some of the reasons are for you wanting to be a drum major!

    J. Pisano

  • thetweller

    Joe,

    It is great to hear your take on Drum Majors. I mm looking forward to my marching band next year because of the 3 young people who will serve our organization in that captacity.

    In regards to points 1 & 2 – it does fall on the Director to outline expectations for their student conductors. Musically – what are they responsible for? How should they conduct? I have seen plenty of fancy student conductors in 12 years in front of a band that does not play with clarity. Clear and accurate downbeats must take priority over any clever tricks designed to garner points from judges. Drum Major and Field Commander positions are also great ways to develop students who aspire to a career in music education. The important part for the director is to develop ways in which they are involved with teaching music and drill, handling small administrative tasks, and serving the band in the best way possible.

    Respect is a tough rung on the ladder for student leaders. I constantly tell mine to lead by example – not words. Be the first there, the last to leave. Know the drill for every squad or person. Speak from experience, and do not take anything personally. It is a student conductor with a disciplined mind, who cares only for the good of the organization and the quality of their performance that can best serve. Furthermore, they must have a quality about them that helps them rebound from any setback. There is an old adage I remind my student leaders – “No pressure, no diamonds.”

    Our drum majors and field commanders – for lack of a better way to say it – must be the stud around which we build this band house. In them we should see everything that we want the rest of our band to aspire, and they should inspire every senior down to every member in their first year in the organization. The message that these leaders can send to younger members when they go about their duties in a professional, diligent, and timely manner is so powerful.

    Director’s can not go it alone. Football coaches have the Quarterback, Basketball Coaches have the point guard, and Band Directors have Drum Majors. Drum Majors are not part of the show. They help the show succeed. Drum Majors are not more important than other band members, they have been saddled with more responsibility. So to all you future drum majors, quit conducting in the mirror all the time and learn how to serve your band too!

    T. Weller

  • Anne

    Joe
    I came across your website while doing a search on identifying leadership models. Congratulations on compiling a wonderful list of “must-have” DM qualities. Thank you for including the need for a “heart of a servant”. You made my day!

    I no longer teach high school, so I don’t have the opportunity to watch the wonderful things that happen from the start of summer band camp until the end of a competitive season. I miss it a great deal. Good luck to everyone who is gearing up for the 2007-08 season. Joe, keep up the great work!

  • http://www.mustech.net J. Pisano

    Anne,

    Thanks for your kind words! Please feel free to stop “by” anytime!

    J. Pisano

  • http://llprior.wordpress.com Laura

    Joe,

    I was drum major my senior year of high school and another great idea is sending your drum majors to a camp specifically for drum majors. I attended George Parks Drum Major Academy and found the information I learned there so important not only for being DM but for teaching in general. Sending your DM’s to camp also gives them time to really solidify their styles, teaching techniques, and relationships so that come band camp time you have DM’s who are on the same page and with the same goals.
    Pont 4 (respect of the directors) is, I feel, one of the most important as well. Too often I have seen directors publicly criticizing their drum majors. When band members see that the respect is diminished and the drum major has lost a bit of their authority. If corrections need to be made pull them aside and yell and scream and criticize as needed, but never do this in front of the band.
    Once again, thanks for this post, it should be helpful to many directors and drum major hopefuls!

  • Anonymous

    I want to try out for the drum major for my high school and there are also three other people. But the thing is that last year they tryed out just to learn how to conduct and I have been searching everywhere to figure out how to conduct without a baton but everything is with a baton or something stupid. And try outs are in two weeks and i was hoping that you would tell me how to conduct and what is the best way that i could win over three people who already know a lot more than me.

  • http://www.mustech.net J. Pisano

    Hello,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I admire you wanting to become a drum major, but think you may be going about it the wrong way. You hit on some really important items in your email… It’s hard to win over somebody that knows more about you anything because they’ve taken the time to learn the subject… This is something that you need to do… I teach conducting at a College and I can tell you it’s not something that you can learn or do well in three weeks. There are so many things involved.

    Baton conducting is almost universal among wind based instrumental groups… it’s rare to see the baton not used in anything but marching bands. That being said they same basic principles apply to conducting regardless regardless of whether or not you use the baton as a techincal instrument.

    My advice would be to approach your directors or assistant directors and let them know you are interested in trying-out and seek their advice and help.

    I am not aware of any internet sites that can help you with marching band conducting techniques. Maybe one of the readers can point you to a site that I don’t know.

    Best wishes!

  • http://www.myspace.com?gaylaoneandonly Gene

    I am going to be a drum major as a senior next year and I want(High School) and I want to know how I came break down the fundamentals to the upcoming freshmen without being too harsh.

  • HGB

    Hey,
    just wanted to say thanks I’m not going to be a drum major but I am going to be a section leader and I needed to get some ideas to put in the essay I have to write on why I think I should be section leader
    this site helped a lot!
    thanks again
    HGB

  • http://www.mustech.net J. Pisano

    Hi guys,

    I’ve been away for a few days here, I’m going to get back into things tomorrow. Gene…stay tuned.

    HGB… Congrats!

  • Sara

    wow this really helped me alot. im trying out to be drum major for my high school next week and i feel that i have most of these qualities. it gave me some really good ideas to put in my essay. with this artical i really hope my dream of becoming drum major comes true.

  • http://www.mustech.net J. Pisano

    Sara. Thanks for coming and sharing your comment! Please stop by again and tell your friends about MusTech.Net!

  • Brittany

    Hi,
    I’m reporting from one of the big Texas marching bands. I’ve found some of this drum major advice helpful but I think you should design a website commited to advice on being a drum major. For starters, more articles about commanding authority, conducting with clarity, and being charismatic.

    Thanks From An Aspiring Drum Major!

  • http://www.mustech.net J. Pisano

    Hi Brittany,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment at mustech.net. I’m glad you found my articles helpful. As to starting a blog about Marching Band Drum majors… we’ll have to leave that to someone else to take on! :) It’s too busy just keeping up with my regular article here… Please let us know how it works out for you. I wish you the best for this year.

    J. Pisano

  • http://andyzweibel.com Andy Zweibel

    Joe,

    Another old post that I’m resurrecting, but I thought you would appreciate knowing that I passed this on to the five applicants for DM in the University of Miami “Band of the Hour” this past week, and it seemed to go over well!

    A very belated thank-you for this great post!

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Andy, continuing the experiment… I think after we get this down we should joint announce an venture on our sites to get the ME bloggers on tothis system. It does play very well now with the WordPress system and you can easily remove it and not lose comments…

  • http://andyzweibel.com Andy Zweibel

    I agree completely! I think this would be a fantastic idea… maybe we can even try to get the folks at Disqus on board! I can talk to the community manager over there about that.

    Have you figured out a way to get email notification of follow-up comments on posts you’ve commented on outside of mustech, though? As of now, the only notifications I get are if someone directly replies to one of my comments with theirs (by clicking the “Reply” link), but I really like the blog feature of getting an email any time anybody replies to a post you have already commmented on… maybe something worth asking Disqus to add?

  • Alex

    I really enjoyed reading this advice. I am trying out for the drum major position at my high school tomorrow and this helped out a lot. Even though I may not get the position of being drum major, these tips are still usable to other band members.
    Thank you,
    Alex

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Alex,

    Best wishes at your drum major audtions and thanks for taking the time to comment at mustech.net!

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  • wesghodges

    Excellent list, Dr. Pisano!

    I’d like to send a message to all existing & potential future DMs here: be natural and be real. There’s no way to deal with your vital importance to excell & its pressure wearing a mask. There’s a difference between looking the part & actually being it.

    Conducting is actually a small part to what a DM is, its the leadership he/she provides that truly makes or breaks the position. You’re much more than a human metronome.

    Of all the forms & styles of leadership, I believe leading by example is THE most important. You serve as the mold to which your band pours in. How can one make an excellent cake with a cracked container to support it during the baking? Also, how can you expect your band to excell to its limits and truly be phenomenal if you yourself don’t eat those words? Hypocrisy, which one doesn’t always notice without careful self-examination, can be one of the biggest & fastest killers in respect towards leaders. (Also, respect is EARNED, not for granted. Titles are flimsy, action is adamant!) Take for example an alcoholic tells someone fond of cigarettes to break their addiction, while using the same breath to inhale more drink. Would that man take notice or care to his message? Not likely.

    Finally, a little personal note. Last year I was an ambitious junior bent on landing a DM spot at my school. For more than a month, I spent hour after hour preparing & preparing to be my best & show it at the audition. When the day came, I couldn’t have made audition any better if I was given an additional year to perfect it. Those who witnessed my conducting grabbed me afterwards and went fanatic, telling me I constantly gave them chills during my performance. My interview with a panel of recognized judges from the area with dreamy, with everyone complimenting me & smiling. I’ll never forget the wide smile my director gave me when I left the room, words cannot recreate it. But, in the end, I marched my senior year. You see even though definetly deserved the DM position based on all aspects, superceding everyone else who auditioned, even the 3 veterans, my director decided to keep the very same 3. I can tie this into the “big picture” topic above, in that my band would be better off this way. Our current DMs are really ONLY good at conducting, they have no talent for marching. What I believe my director did was spread out the talent, they kept what they had experience in, & I was given Band President. I even lead a Bass Clarinet feature in our show this year!

    To make a long story short, if you truly want Dm for the right reasons, for what’s best for your band, sometimes that is synonimous with what’s not best for you. Accept it, I grieved for a while, but I lived & helped lead on the field.

    Once again, great list Dr. Pisano! I hope this helps as well for anyone in the future!
    -Wes

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Wes,

    Thank you for taking the time to write and also for such an informative reply! Best wishes in the future!

  • Jonathan

    I’m in the process of trying out for Drum Major. I’m a freshman now, but when the time comes, I’ll be a sophomore. I’ve had alot of people tell me that I wont be picked because I’m an underclassman. And I’m actually glad they said that because it motivated me to work harder than before. These tips are very useful, and I thank you for them. I’ve wanted this more than anything, and I’m going to strive for the best. :)

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Thanks for taking the time to write! I wish you the best on your auditions!

  • A. Nonymous :)

    I, like many others on here, am an aspiring DM. I tried out last year as a freshman (for my sophomore year) but did not make it, and I’ve grown to see why. I still had a lot to learn (and still do!). However, I’ll be auditioning again this year, with much more practice, precision, and passion put into it this time. Thank you so much for your article; it is now part of my checklist for auditions :) The one thing I’m most nervous about (as was last year) is saying why I think I should be drum major during the interview portion, and they ALWAYS ask it. I feel cocky/self-righteous saying things like that, even though my B.D. has personally told me I provide the best example for anyone to follow. I think this might be my downfall for this year, any advice?

    One last thing, I can’t really explain to them (the judges) WHY I want to be drum major, it’s just a passion of mine and is kind of… unexplainable. Any ideas as to how I should put that?
    Once again, thank you so much for your information, time, and attention! :)

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Hello, thanks for taking the time to respond to this post. I think that being passionate and strong about a topic or subject doesn’t go hand-in-hand with being “cocky”. Just tell them why you wan to be drum major, tell that about all of the hard work you’ve put in and that also that this is something that you’ve aspired to for along time. If you BD is behind you then you must be doing something right! :) Best wishes on your upcoming auditions! :)

  • RJ

    Thank you so much for this!!!!! I’m now officially a drum major. :D

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Congratulations!

  • anonymous

    I have drum major tryouts in a week and although i have been working hard, I’m not sure if I would be chosen because I am small. I have all of the qualities and have been a section leader for two years, but i feel like our band director think that people would not listen to me because of my size. Do you think this would hinder my success? I don’t want to be denied a position because of something that I have no control over

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Hello. I think you will be fine. Band drum majors are chosen on ability not size. Go out and do the best you can. Do not let your thoughts about height deter you in any way so as to take away from your confidence… Best wishes for your audition!

  • merl

    With auditions in slightly less than one month, my search for a good prepaired piece continues. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Anonymous

    thank you for the advice! my director just named me as the drum major in training, and as a freshman its great to know what to expect in the coming years. thank you!

  • Bandgeek

    Dr. J. Pisano
    Im trying out for drum major in a few months and this really helped a lot. I have been practicing my conducting everyday for the past couple months and since last year. This will really help me get everything else perfect. I especially appreciate the one about cammands considering the fact that i forgot about it. I have good competition but now that i have good advice i know that i have a good chance. THANK YOU!!!!

  • Jtz1094

    ive been in drum major training for the past 2 monthes now and its about a month left before auditions. im one of the youngest ones trying out and i will be a junior next year. i go to Mountain View High school in Mesa Arizona. and we are one of the most dominent marching bands in the state. and im going against a lot of next year seniors. the school has a history with junior drum majors being the prodigies of the band becuase they love the band and take the time and commitment to be the leaders of the band. ive been told im good enough to make it as drum major. wich really motivates me because people are actually counting on a underclassmen to make drum major. but their are 9 other people besides me trying out. most of them have already gone through the drum major process last year but failed to make it. but i dont believe they have love and intensity that i bring to the band. but saying tht people say im to “ego tistical” to be drum major. though i believe that im on the down side with the director because of me being an underclassmen. though i dont know if the drasitc improvment of maturity has helped me. please comment with advise on how i can show my fellow band memebers and director that i can be a very good drum major and lead the band to great places. thank you. sincerily J.T. Ziervogel.

  • Twirler01

    Thank you so much for these tips. I am interviewing for my band’s drum major today. I interviewed last year, and did not get it because there was one person that my director thought was better. This will he m senior marching band season and being drum major is a huge thing for me. I know that your tips will help me accomplish my goal.

    Thanks
    Amanda

  • Anonymous

    I have a bit of an interesting story for my drum major tryouts. The BD had announced that there would be two drum majors next year, and then continued by announcing that the tryouts would be on May 17, which was yesterday. I was thrilled, because that is my birthday, and I took it as a good sign. I was still extremely nervous, because I was going against people who had already been DM, and people who had tried out last year and been beaten. I also was extremely nervous because yesterday was just my 16th birthday, and next year I am going to be a senior because I am graduating early. It didn’t help knowing that if I didn’t make it, I wouldn’t be able to be DM. But sure enough, I was chosen, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

  • Jamie

    Hey thanks for this it helped me a lot. I’m in middle school and we really arnt having tryouts just mr Mullins will pick who he thinks will be good. And the drum major now keeps on telling me that I will get it and I think I will but in scared because I’m the one in the band that doesn’t talk at all around people that arnt my age. But I know mr Mullins knows that Im really loud around my friends. But I don’t know if I can be that one very one comes to. Because I know I won’t be ably to do every thing but it bothers me so badly because I don’t want to let any one down.

  • Kaitlyn

    Thank you very much for posting this. :) I’m an upcoming drum major for my high school band. I’ve already been assistant, but as such I was mainly watching everyone’s feet and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. Unfortunately, the drum major wasn’t liked very much, which bothered me, because she was my favorite person /in/ band. She the best of the best. First flute. Top of her class… But, she lacked people skills. :/ And that’s what hurt her.
    I’m gonna do the best I can. I talk to everyone and when I notice that someone has worked extra hard during camp or has done exceptionally well, I make sure to let them know. I count my band as my second family. I may not like all of their behaviors, but I do love them as a whole. :)
    I’m excited but extremely scared for the marching season.. I’m small (5’2″ and 105 pounds to be exact) and am usually soft spoken.. But, during camp, it’s like my volume gets turn up all the way, so to speak. :P I believe in my band and I’m a very optimistic person, but I’m not very sure of things… But, I’m working on that. :D

  • Tina

    Hey there. I read your article, and found it very helpful :)
    I’m going into my sophemore year, and ever since the beggining of marching my freshman year, i knew i wanted to be Drum Major. However, since I have these goals ahead of me, i have the bad habit of psyching myself out. I have a year until i have to audition, so i feel i have time to learn. But Im also very nervous, because I’m not sure if im the strongest marcher. I have difficulty with the heat, and often have to sit out during practices for at least 3 minutes, sometimes more than once. I cant help this, I drink plenty of water, and have always had problems with the heat. However, I feel like i have all the personality traits needed. In the end i guess, i just want to know if you have any advice on how to prepare my skills besides marching to the best of their ability.

  • Arvind

    Band camp starts tomorrow and right now I am the Section Leader for the Pit or Front Ensemble. This year I would love to try out to be assistant drum major. Thank you for this article. :)

  • Bluealbino12

    I’m currently a sophomore, and going to try out for drum major come spring.  However, with over 425 members in my school’s marching band, I know there’ll be plenty competition. I’m a pretty okay player, and the directors constantly compliment my marching abilities. I really would like to help my band improve, and this has given me a lot of ideas on how to express my interest to our directors!

  • Perfectionist

    I am trying out for the Junior Drum Major position since I’m a Sophomore in highschool. I’ve been having trouble getting my conducting really precise. You can understand where the beats are but I’m a perfectionist when it comes to stuff I have to do! I currently have one senior-class drum major and one drum major that graduated last year. I am really nervous because I am going against this girl who… basically gets everything. The auditions are around May or June so since December 13th, I have been practicing every night in my room for two hours just with the metronome so I can get it more precise. I even added new.. signals, I guess you would call it. I think I have a good shot but I am SUPER nervous!  No one in the band knows yet because I want it to be a surprise if I do make it. I don’t have any enemies in the band and everyone likes me. But I’m just scared all my hard work will be paid with a “Sorry, you’re not Drum Major!” I would be able to handle that but… it would be hard for me. A Superior Band calls for a Superior Drum Major, so I’ll keep working harder and harder! Thanks for the tips (: They really helped

  • Rachel.

    I’m looking into trying out/auditioning for drum major for this upcoming marching season. I found this article very helpful! I feel like I have a lot of the qualities to become drum major and the tips in here will definitely help me better myself and encourage me to not only meet my director’s standards, but to impress him and make him see that I can really lead our marching band with pride, honor, and passion! :)

  • Robert B

    Mr. Pisano, i am a Freshman and i am looking into being the drum major for my sophmore year. My Older brother who recently graduated was the drum major last year. And due to a change in the band director position, my director did not choose my brother fr the role. She was not a fan of him, she disrespected him and did not like him. And i am afraid she wont like me because i am realated to him, but i dont want her to see ny brother i want her to see me, because i want to be drum major not to say im the boss, but to say “here i am, i have worked hard for this and i wanna look back and say I lead this band to state finals what do i do?

  • Bassoonhero95

    Hi! This has helped me so much! I tried out for drum major in my band last week and I thought about this list the whole time during my interview with the directors. Hopefully it worked! :)

  • LuKi

    THIS ARTICLE REALLY HELPED, I’m trying out for DM tomorrow and I’m nervous as heck, but I believe in myself and I believe I can do it. My conducting skills are good but there is still a gap for improvement, but my teacher said that she believes that being a DM isn’t about conducting it’s about leading and representing the band, which I felt better when she said that too. Im the only one in my grade level going out for jr. drum major and I don’t know if this gives me an advantage or not, but we shall see tomorrow. lucky my friend is going to be there to support me.

    Again this article really help to keep my nerves down.
      

  • Kiki3234

    I was just awarded this position, very pumped and ready! Thank you, this was a helpful passage :)

  • Andrea

    This is amazing! This fall will be my Senior year, my first as drum major and my second with a leadership position. I loved this article! 

  • Armond

    Hi, my name is Armond Dorsey and I am currently a freshman at Suitland High School in Forestville, MD. I am part of the marching band and I would like to be drum major my junior and/or senior year. I am, to be honest, out of shape and I do have a sense of rhythm, but I cannot not dance well, but I am charismatic. Are there any tips you can give me? I have to learn how to do a good body roll, possibly a half split, and a back bend (I can’t be far from the ground, lol.). Thanks!

  • http://www.mustech.net/ Dr. J. Pisano

    Armond,

    Thanks for contacting us and commenting. Your best bet is to “get in shape”. Check with your school gym teachers and get into a regimen. What you are looking to do is called “tumbling”. I’m sure there are a number of people that can help you, just be confident and take the time to ask.

    Also, don’t be afraid to ask your director for pointers too and get in touch with previous drum majors from your school and ask them for advice.

    Best wishes.

  • Relly

    This is my second year I’m trying out for drum major. Last year I was only a freshman and only tried out for getting the hang of things. Right now I really REALLY want to be drum major and I’m confident that I have the needed qualities (might need to hit the gym for some extra endurance, but that’s fine with me). Right now I’m having problems with getting a nice conducting pattern. I feel like mine is too definitive and fancy. You can see the beats clearly… but you can see every “and” of each beat fairly easily as well. I find this troublesome in faster pieces and I soon fall behind. I also look at one of my current drum majors and her pattern is clear, not as definite and flows much better (she said she adapted it from a phantom regiment drum major who used a baton). I like her pattern but I want my own style! I’m really worrying because I’m quite a perfectionist with things like this and, like I said earlier, I want to be drum major for my junior and senior years. May some one please help?

  • Cate

    I’m currently applying to be the field major in my band which means I would be on the track to be the drum major- a drum major in training. The field major is a sophomore who conducts in the bleachers at the football game. The director basically has them learning. I joined this band as an eigth grader, which is relatively unique. I have another year of experience. I have to write an essay and I was looking for ideas about what I could say my strengths are. This article really helped. One of the things that this article didn’t mention that I know my director places a great deal of importance on is that ability to read and teach drill. Also strong marching abilities are required to be able to help other members of the band. Basically, the drum major is meant to be a person that the rookies can look up to and attempt to exlemplify.

  • Grace

    Thank you Joe Pisano for this list. I’m currently trying out to be drum major and auditions are in 4 days. There are two spots availiable with the third going to our new head drum major. There are 6 of us trying out for these two spots and most of them being my best friends. I know that I have been working extremely hard for this role and have dreamed about it for a long time but my director said this is going to be the hardest tryouts he has ever had to do. With that, I am a nervous wreck trying to write my drum major essay, and this list has helped. Thanks for the good advice!

  • Anonymous

    This was tons of help! Thank you so much!

  • Samantha Licon

    This helps so much honestly. But the advice really only helps if you, your other drum major(s), and the rest of the band will fully participate. I have that problem in my band and as drum major, sectional leader, and just an overall instigator of activity in the band I find it really hard to motivate an unmotivated, lazy band. It is a small band but nonetheless has the capacity to be a good band. It just has nothing to show for it.

  • Taylor burnham

    I’m trying to find excersizes for drum majors that I need to start doing to build up my endurance. I just found out I am our drummajor for next year (so exited!!!)and I know I need to start getting stronger. Any advice?