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Student Leadership in Marching Band

November 3, 2021

There are many opportunities for student leadership at Central and one is becoming a part of band leadership. Within the band there are opportunities to be a band president, drum major and section leader. Some of these students shared their responsibilities and the role they play in making the band run smoothly.  

The band has three drum majors Elana Elder, Emilio Parra-Garcia who are seniors, and Amelia Larson who is a junior. Michael Abbound who plays the tuba is a senior and a co band president. Ross Paule who plays the Sousaphone and Grace Rock who plays the baritone in the marching band are junior section leaders. Chinema Ekeh plays the trumpet and is a senior section leader.  

Q: What does your leadership position entail?  

Elder: I conduct but it is also a leadership role, so I lead different fundamental block and stretching. I also give pep talks.  

Parra-Garcia: I am one of three drum majors so I’m partially in charge of the band, conducting the band during our shows, setting up the field for practice whether it is an afternoon practice or morning practice and then just making sure that everyone has music and everything that they need.  

Abboud: I am co-president of the band. I coordinate bonding experiences as well as giving input about activities and how we initiate things.  

Paule: I am a low brass section leader. I make sure that everyone has what they need, and mainly I just make sure everyone is okay mentally and having fun. I make sure people are doing what they are supposed to be doing but also having fun.  

Rock: I am a low brass section leader. I make sure that everyone is doing okay, and I just help make things more efficient. I make sure people are on the right dots for marching band.  

Ekeh: I am a high brass section leader, so I just overlook pretty much the trumpets and mellophones during marching band. I just make sure that while we are marching everyone knows what they are doing and knows what the shape is. I help with their music, making sure everyone knows their notes. I lead practices and take any of my section member’s grievances to the band director.  

Q: What is the best and worst part of your role?  

Paule: The best part of my role is that it feels nice to have all my work, because I have been playing the tuba since sixth grade and I think I am pretty good at it. It is nice to know that all my hard work has paid off. The part I don’t like doing as much is when they do not take me very seriously. 

Elder: The best part is being such an integral part of the band and since you are conducting you feel as if you are connected to everything going on. It’s nice to feel needed. It’s nice to feel like you are important. Probably the worst part is as a drum major you are separated from your section. You are up on those stands so you don’t get those conversations that you would if you were in the formations. I miss being in the clarinets sometimes.  

Ekeh: I would say the best part is just working with my section and talking to each of them and getting to know them, like finding out everyone’s personalities and what makes them tick. I would say the worst part is working with deadlines and when the stress hits and everyone is kind of on edge because you have to remain focused. You have to put up a front and make it look like you know what you are doing. 

Q: Is it hard to lead people who are so close in age to you? 

Parra-Garcia: I don’t feel as though it is hard, I feel as though it is the opposite because they are the same age as me, so we are able to communicate easier. Both are coming from a place of understanding. Just that connection or closeness in age gives me the ability to create a connection with people.  

Rock: Sometimes, like when I have to make sure they’re not messing around, I have to be a bigger person and tell them to stop doing it and that’s hard, but I think being that close in age helps us be more of a friend than an authority role.  

Elder: Juniors and seniors yes, freshman, sophomore, it is such a large divide. Like you don’t think about it because it’s only three or four years, but they are so tiny. I remember when I was a freshman the seniors seemed so big, not necessarily just their size but their personalities were so big because they were so comfortable with where they were, because they had been in band for four years.  

Q: How do you get your peers to listen to you, or does it come with the title? 

Paule: I think it definitely came with the title at first, because I don’t think anyone last year would have said, ‘Oh yeah I think Ross is going to get section leader,’ but I think because they all do respect me they decided to listen to what I have to say. But like I said I do have to raise my voice and yell at them sometimes.  

Parra-Garcia: I think that it does not always come with the title because you need to earn people’s respect. People are only going to listen to you as much as you listen to them and so whenever I try to communicate with band members I am also open to conversation and never hesitate to listen to their opinions as well. 

Ekeh: Honestly, it is just expressing how important what we are doing is, making sure they realize what needs to be done and how we are going to do it. Making sure people know the deadlines we have to meet. Know what they are working towards.  

Q: Do you feel as though the leadership follows you out of the band activities and into your personal life? 

Elder: Kind of, I am more upbeat. I just want to try and make everyone more comfortable, and I strive to set a good example. I don’t do things that I don’t want other people to see me doing.  

Rock: When I was a freshman, I definitely saw that through my section leader. Once they are a section leader, they are always a section leader in my mind. So, I think that is how people think of me, but I don’t really see it that way, at least for myself.  

Q: Do you think you enjoy band more or less now that you are a leader? 

Abboud: More. I get to take past knowledge and kind of pave the way to how I would have or how I could have seen band go better in the past years.  

Parra-Garcia: I defiantly enjoy band more, only because I feel as though, like I mentioned before, I get to impact people. I feel as though I have gained a lot more knowledge about band, and I see it as more than just an activity on the side. It has become a passion of mine.  

Paule: I think that I enjoy it more. I definitely did not enjoy my freshman year. That’s just because I hated freshman year, but I definitely do enjoy it more this year because I don’t have a ton of power, but I like having some kind of power. I like being able to be heard and to be listened to.  

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