Leadership is Their Forte

Read about the 2015 EHS Marching Band’s Drum Majors


photo courtesy of edinabands.com

Last year’s Marching Band Drum Majors

Erik Lindquist, online editor-in-chief

The band performances during halftime are often a highlight of the football games for all spectators, and Andy Richter, Director of the Edina High School Hornet Marching Band, isn’t the only one responsible for their success.

Every year four students are selected as Drum Major, the highest honor and leadership position an Edina band student can receive. Drum Majors oversee the whole marching band, which consists of 340 high school band members from the Concert, Varsity, and Symphonic bands. Out of 37 applicants, Mr. Richter chose seniors Josie Wilde, who plays the clarinet, Gretchen Miller, who plays the oboe,  Alex McLaughlin, who plays the french horn, and Kjell Redpath, who plays the trumpet.

Drum Majors undertake various tasks and duties for the band. The first and most obvious is that they conduct the band during halftime at the games. Each Drum Major has to learn different whistle commands and how to conduct. All four of them stand on a step-ladder to ensure that every band member can see their arms, which keep the tempo. Their garb differs from the rest of the band’s in that the boys wear white pants instead of green, the girls wear skirts. Additionally, all four of them wear capes.

“It’s really fun to listen to the music and move to the beat, trying to energize the band and get everyone to show their passion,” said Redpath. “Personally, I can’t help moving to some of those groovy songs.”

Another responsibility the Drum Majors are charged with is being the liaison between the band and the teachers. “Staff asks for input and gives us direction, and students give us their ideas, questions, and comments!” said Wilde.

“We do a lot of planning and organization. I wouldn’t say we have a lot of power but the teachers will look to us to take responsibility of practice, improving, what music to play, etc,” said McLaughlin.

This year has been especially difficult for the band. The band usually marches in the Minnesota State Fair parade, but it was unfortunately cancelled because of Black Lives Matter protests that occurred at the fair that day.  Also, the Homecoming Football Game, their biggest and most spectated event of the year, was cancelled because of the rain. These cancellations put a diminuendo on the band’s spirits, especially for the seniors who didn’t get to perform at their last homecoming.

“I cried after the state fair parade got cancelled, after the homecoming halftime show got cancelled, and after our last homecoming. It’s all very emotional,” said Miller.

Drum Major responsibilities don’t just end in the fall, though. They also conduct the pep bands in the winter for boys’ and girls’ hockey and boys’ basketball. Over winter break, the marching band will head to San Diego, California, where they’ll be marching in the New Year’s Day parade and playing at Disneyland.

“Last year, Drum Majors had additional responsibilities in Concert Band and that may continue this year but it’s completely up to [Concert Band director] Mr. Kile,” said McLaughlin.

It’s safe to say that for all four Drum Majors, leadership is their forte. “Band gives us so many opportunities both socially and musically. It’s the best of all worlds and it’s my favorite part of high school. Makes me laugh, cry, laugh until I cry, as cheesy as it sounds,” said Miller.

This article was also present in the Zephyrus October print edition.