Inside the Mind of a Drum Major

Article by Kaitlyn Beauchamp


Drum Major Rowan Hayden. Photo by Suzanne Ibrahim.

Somewhere in a parking lot, with only two street lights shining, there are ninety-seven marching band members either playing music or spinning flags. Above them, on a podium, one person is waving her arms in the air, instructing the band on how to play and in what direction to march.

“Drum Major, Rowan Hayden, is your band ready?” the announcer asks as bell chimes start to ring. The Kings High School band is ready to perform their 2018 show, In the Shadow of the Bell Tower.

Rowan Hayden is a senior at Kings High School and has marched all four years. She spent freshman to junior year marching sousaphone, but became the drum major at the beginning of her senior year. Being drum major and leading the entire band was a big responsibility for Hayden.

“Memorizing all the music, knowing how fast or how slow it is, correcting all of the fixed mistakes, and everything that we have worked so hard on this season has led up to this moment,” Hayden explained “There were countless times that I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, and being the only one makes those moments scarier.”

Brian McDonough, who has been the band director for seven years, explained the responsibilities that Hayden has as a drum major.  

“The drum major is the highest ranking student leader in the band. They keep the pulse of the group and help with the communication between the members and the staff. They also maintain order and focus of the group during rehearsal. They have the most important musical responsibility of conducting the group in performance,McDonough explained.  

Although some things about being drum major are stressful, Hayden was able to continuously lead the band to success; they earned a superior rating at the state competition.

This year would have been difficult for any drum major. The conducting of the show was the most demanding in my seven years as director. [Rowan] had to learn and grow a lot as a musician and conductor,” McDonough explained. “The most difficult aspect of being drum major is the workload. The job requires significantly more time, focus, and attention than any other student role in the marching band. One must be incredibly committed to the group in order to be successful.”

Hayden does all that and more, she memorizes the tempo of the whole show, gives marching members information about when they will stand or march during the show, and helps load and unload the speakers for the show, the wind, the brass, the front ensemble, and the battery equipment that goes on the band truck, along with the speakers the band uses for shows.

“The role you take  in the band changes so much, that by your senior year it doesn’t even feel like you’re in the same activity, not always in a bad way,”  Hayden explained.

Some of the best memories Hayden had were on senior night.

“I got to go around and hug everyone. Getting to see the effort reflected in the eyes of younger members is the most important part of my job,” she evaluated.

One of the best things Hayden learned about being drum major is how much time and effort the directors put into the show.

“I wouldn’t trade the insight I got into that piece of the show and my strong relationship with the directors for anything.”

Despite the fact that being a drum major is a big responsibility to place on the shoulders of high school student, Hayden handled it with maturity and poise. The band performed their show one last time in front of their friends and family on community night, putting a rest to all the long hours that were put into this show.

“I’m happy with our season, and I look back on it incredibly fondly with everything we have accomplished,” Hayden said.

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