Meet the 2023-2024 marching band drum majors
May 22, 2023
With the school year coming to an end, the band has finalized its 2023-2024 drum majors. The role of a drum major is to lead the band throughout both the fall and spring semesters.
“When auditioning for drum major, we not only look at the conducting aspects, but we also look at their contribution to the band — how they lead and represent themselves,” assistant director Brock Alsaffar said. “Conducting is only [a] small part of the job.
Junior Chan-Hee Kim:
Junior Chan-Hee Kim is currently a drum major and will be a returning drum major next year. Before becoming drum major, Kim marched the flute and has been playing the flute since sixth grade. Kim always had the idea of becoming a drum major on her mind, but became completely convinced after watching her brother perform in Indianapolis for BOA Grand Nationals.
“I remember [being in middle school and] seeing [drum major] Abby Rieger and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool, I wonder what she does,’” Kim said. “And so, when I came into high school and got to know the drum majors, they impacted me in so many ways and I just wanted to be that person for someone else.”
Throughout the audition process, Kim found that putting her aspirations of wanting this position into words to be difficult. She sat through interviews and multiple rounds of auditions, but she said it was worth it because of the friendships she’s made as her and the other drum majors worked together throughout this school year.
“I’m really excited to work with this new team,” Kim said. “These are all very great people and I feel like we could work together really well. I’m just excited in general [about] what this year is going to bring for us.”
According to Kim, a drum major’s role is more than just conducting the band. In her thoughts, the drum majors work as a team to be role models who are more like friends rather than the people in charge. Kim’s goal is to be approachable and leave a positive impact like past drum majors have done for her. A huge part of the band, for her, is making connections with the people around her — it’s the little moments that have truly done that for Kim.
“There have been so many times when we have to stay after [school] and just be around a lot,” Kim said. “Sometimes, we’re so tired and sleepy, but we just laugh [through it] while cleaning. We’re just like, ‘oh my god, we have to be here so early tomorrow.’ It’s honestly one of my favorite moments.”
Junior Jose Gallegos:
Junior Jose Gallegos is currently a french horn player and has been marching in the band for the past three years. Gallegos started off his leadership journey by joining the band student leadership team and is currently a band officer, and said he felt it was better than jumping straight into auditioning for drum major.
“Once I connected [with] the drum majors, I was enjoying things a lot more because I understood [everything] more,” Gallegos said. “I was like ‘Wait, that’s kind of fun. Maybe I’ll be that one day.’”
To Gallegos, the role of a drum major is about facing and resolving conflicts — especially on a day-to-day basis. The drum majors are a concrete image for the band and his hopes are that, as a team, they can be approachable and helpful throughout the entirety of next year, whether in marching season or not.
“Every year for us is difficult,” Gallegos said. “[Mostly] because every day is not the same. We always approach conflicts and new hassles every day, so I feel like that’s the difficulty of the role.”
Gallegos said his goal for next year is to make a positive impact on the band through something as simple as kindness. Gallegos wants to make people feel comfortable and give back. He said he believes giving back and connecting with the community is a huge part of the band’s goal.
“[This world’s] just getting dark,” Gallegos said. “If I get to add a little bit of light in people’s days, especially during the marching season, [since] it gets really tedious, it will make everyone feel excited to go to band — that’s [exactly] what I want.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn Nguyen:
Sophomore Kaitlyn Nguyen marched flute this past season and will be a drum major for the 2023-2024 school year. Nguyen said her inspiration spawned from seeing past drum majors, as well as her aunt, who was a drum major.
“Seeing how much [past drum majors and my aunt] helped me go on to become a better person compared to who I [was]has really inspired me to do that for other people, even people outside of band,”Nguyen said. “That has really helped me push forward.”
According to Nguyen, the hardest part of the audition process was being mentally prepared, as the role is challenging mentally and physically. Nguyen said the importance of consistently representing the band in a well-mannered way is important; she believes the drum majors are the face of the band in certain aspects.
“Becoming a drum major has [to do a lot with] your mentality and how you’re able to handle such a big role in front of over 300 people,” Nguyen said. “Even [when] going through a really rough day, being able to just keep on a face that [represents] the band is [hard, but important].”
Nguyen said she believes being open with the band and making friendships is a vital aspect that has helped her have a better experience. She wants to do this for others as well, but in a leadership position.
“I was a very timid person [my freshman year],” Nguyen said. “I had no friends and [now], comparing that to my sophomore year, I like to say I’ve grown significantly better as a person. I have a lot more friends and that’s something I think I can help the band [with] under my leadership. I know there’s a lot of other people that don’t have the greatest experience [in band] because of how closed off they can be.”
Sophomore Noorain Aziz:
Sophomore Noorain Aziz marched piccolo this past marching season and will now be a drum major for the 2023-2024 school year. According to Aziz, being a drum major is about giving back and doing something for the band.
“I think a really big part of it was wanting to leave an impact on the band and [give] back to this really amazing program that has done so much for me,” Aziz said. “[This] program is built on the people who come and go on [from] it. I wanted to be part of that lasting legacy and also live up to some of my really great role models, like drum majors and leaders [from] the past.”
Aziz said that throughout the audition process, her worst enemy was herself. She pushed herself to be the best version she could be to get the role she had been longing for. Aziz said it was about putting her all in, whether it was double or even triple her usual. Now that she has the role, Aziz wants to truly implement good and positive changes in the band.
“There’s been a lot of section disparity and a sense of great divide between upperclassmen versus underclassmen,” Aziz said. “While I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask everyone to be best friends, I think there needs to be a bigger sense of responsibility from the upperclassmen – leadership or not – to be integrating freshmen better.”
For Aziz, being a leader is something she believes can be seen in anyone, but it shouldn’t be a role that is seen as scary, but rather more relaxing and approachable. The drum majors she became friends with this year helped her audition for the position and show her how leaders, at the end of the day, are still human.
“Being friends with the drum majors helped [me see] them in a much more humanized way,” Aziz said. “[I want to] use my own personality and humanity to hopefully inspire other people to step up to the plate. If there’s a better drive for leadership in the program, even within people who aren’t technically leaders, the program [will improve].”
Sophomore Steven Solis-Welch:
Sophomore Steven Solis-Welch was one of the first male sophomore drum majors in over five years for the marching band. Solis-Welch marched saxophone his freshman year and was a drum major for his sophomore year. Solis-Welch said he has always loved to be a leader and make an impact, so being a drum major seemed like a perfect fit for him.
“I was president of student council [in fifth grade], and I’ve always liked the leadership aspects,” Solis-Welch said. “I knew that [being a] drum major would give me that opportunity.”
Though conducting the band is rigorous, for Solis-Welch, the hardest part of auditioning was time management. Auditions take place in the last few weeks of school every year, close to AP and STAAR testing days. Finding time to prepare, stay motivated and make room for everything was difficult for Solis-Welch.
“It’s very hard to stay motivated [when] you know that everyone else is a good candidate and [that] you need to [stand out],” Solis-Welch said. “When you [do] the interviews with the directors and senior officers, you have to know how to show them that you are a true leader and [that] you are going to be different [from] the other candidates.”
Among all that, Solis-Welch said the connections he made are super important and that he tries to use his own ways to implement a more confident band. He believes it is important to work together as individual musicians to create a unified organization. With these connections in mind, in Solis-Welch’s eyes, the friendships he’s made have had a vast impact on him. According to him, he found comfort in them and knew they’d always be there.
“You [know] that as drum [majors], y’all [are] a team,” Solis-Welch said. “In the hard and tough times, we knew we could go cry with each other. In a way, it was like we were [our own] little coping circle.”