Majorly Committed


Kyly Jacobs

Anna Schwarm gazes up at Mr. Griffin and Caroline to keep time while leading the band during the Pink Out game Oct 7. In order to lead the band the majors rely on each other.

It’s another Friday Night, spirits are high as Anna Schwarm and Caroline Tartleton senior drum majors put on their uniform, adjust their gloves and prepare to lead 110 of their bandmates

Drum majors- what are they? “By definition, it’s just the word out there for conducting through. Like the performances, keeping everybody in time,” Tarleton describes. “But it’s also a lot to do with leadership and meeting everybody through just everyday things and also competitions and football games.”

Aniya Sparrow

Drum majors hold an enormous amount of responsibility in the band and keeping it as one, and they have to go through a rigorous process to get this position beginning with an application. Drum major applicants then discuss their answers to questions on the application with band staff. 

Band director Nathan Griffin explains, “that starts to give us an insight to just who they are as leaders, how they’re thinking about leadership, their philosophy on leadership.” They then move onto a “nerve wracking” as Schwarm says and “crazy and cruel” as Griffin describes interview in front of the rest of the band. Griffin explains that he does this for lots of reasons. Not only does it benefit the band, but seeing how the applicants do under pressure, seeing if their answers are either selfish or band-first minded, and just seeing how they overall command the room is helpful.

Drum major applicants have a long interview process because of how important their presence is to the band and the band staff. 

Griffin says he is “looking for somebody who is a servant, first and foremost because the responsibilities they’re going to have in this job is really going to be serving the band. They’re going to be put through so much, almost like staffing, they’re gonna be handed so many responsibilities.” Band majors truly do have many responsibilities outside of conducting the band on those tall podiums we all see. Whether it is having to find quick solutions to things when performing or dealing with drama, a lot goes on behind the scenes, including the unpredictable. 

Tarleton shares,“When it rained, a lot of our instruments can’t get wet. Like, we’re at the beginning. We’re supposed to have a guitar solo, but because it’s electric, it can’t get wet. So we have to improvise and explain to everybody what’s going on. And they’re asking us all these questions because they want to know what’s going on.” 

When encountering challenges, it helps that Schwarm and Tarleton are good friends with such a strong bond already. Tarleton describes her relationship with Schwarm as something special and useful. 

 “We also like to read each other’s minds. We call it twin telepathy, even though we’re not related.” Drum majors are separated, feet apart, but have to be able to communicate and understand what the other needs, making this position even more challenging and special.

As previously mentioned, to Griffin, being a good leader is obviously very important for drum majors so he takes lots of steps teaching them the ropes.

 He also sends them to a camp at Kansas State University where they “get to meet other drum majors, from not only Missouri, but from, in this case, Kansas and other places where now they’re swapping stories, they’re learning from them, and maybe some different nuances that they hadn’t thought about. Or maybe they’re picking up new ideas that they can bring back to us.” This camp makes them as prepared as they can be for the coming season and experience. 

Lots more goes into being in the band and especially being a drum major than outsiders could ever imagine. Next time you are enjoying a Friday night football game and dancing to our fight song, take a moment to listen and appreciate all the unseen work drum majors and the band put in for the students to have that experience.