Conducting Cody High School’s Band

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You’re at a football game. All around you energy abounds.  The crowd is cheering. The players are crushing it. Everyone feels invincible. But what’s the unseen driving force behind this energy? The band playing fiercely. 

The band doesn’t just play at basketball games or concerts. From summer to mid Oct., members of band slave away at a marching show that later goes to state. Each Tuesday, they meet from six to nine trying to perfect their show. The large assortment of musically inclined individuals is run by not only the artistic director, Wade French, but drum majors. Seniors Kate Beardall and Hunter Kindt claim this title.  

“I wasn’t expecting it to be so difficult. People always disagreeing with us or any drum major,” said Beardall. “But, we have to still make those group decisions regardless of their feelings.”

The girls heard about the position at the end of last year, and it’s regarded as one of the highest honors in the band world. 

Kindt has been aspiring for this honor since 8th grade when her sister was the drum major. In fact, it was her sister who invited her that year to play with the high school band during sporting events. 

“It’s really nice having the students give me lots of respect, and I like having the respect of Mr. French,” said Kindt. “If anybody needs anything, they can come to me. I like being there for all the people and making sure everything is perfect.”

Drum major responsibilities start in the summer. They put on the rookie camp for the incoming freshmen and also conduct in the Fourth of July parade. However, marching band is their main focus, but their responsibilities don’t end after state. If Mr. French isn’t at school, the drum majors conduct the band, and they have general responsibility on all band trips. If Mr. French needs anything, his go to is the drum majors, and if anyone in the band needs anything, they’ll go to them as well.

“I feel like making other people happy is the best, so having this position was the perfect way to do that. I like mothering them,” said Kindt.  

According to Beardall, it’s fun, but it’s a lot of pressure and work. The drum majors are in charge of the entire band, and they fully use everyone in the show despite abilities, or if they’re an underclassmen. Unlike sports teams where players often sit on the bench, band utilizes all members. Freshmen Mel Hopkin aspires to be a drum major one day. He has been in band for three years prior to high school. 

“Kate Beardall and Hunter Kindt are very talented musicians, and they both show excellent leadership skills,” said Hopkin. “I definitely want to say that to both of them, there’s a softer side and more serious side. During the whole performance and practice, they still made it a ton of fun.” 

He was expecting marching band to be concert band plus choreography, but it’s more invigorating than that. The main challenge for him, as a freshman, occurs when the two combined, song and movement “…it’s a whole different experience,” said Hopkin.

During the marching show, the drum majors conduct the band on large podiums, so everyone can see them. At the beginning of the show, the drum majors lead the band out of a hallway, the band gets to their spots and then the announcer asks, “Drum majors, is your band ready?” The drum majors respond with flashes signifying the band is ready. This year, due to the difficult pieces chosen, they weren’t able to do as many flashes. They kept their focus more on conducting.

“…in ‘American Barn Dance’ we went from 24 to 38 every other measure, for a whole section. For the band to keep together on that, we had to conduct very very strictly. We didn’t have much room for error at all there,” said Kindt. 

In the end, the band scored an excellent which is the highest score behind superior. 

“If it was any other judge, I really feel like we would have got superiors. The band just worked really hard, and the score we got was really good. It just wasn’t the best score possible. but it was still good,” said Beardall. 

While Beardall explained the band put in a lot of hard work, not getting a superior ranking was troubling.

The difficult aspect of marching band compared to concert, jazz, or pep band is that while performing difficult showstopping melodies, the band is expected to walk along strategic patterns. According to Hopkin, you realize quickly it’s a lot harder to play and move at the same time, but players slowly get used to it. 

At the end of the day, drum majors swelled with pride. 

“I say we’re more family than anything,” said Kindt. “We all want everybody to do well, and it’s more of a hobby than other activities we all want to be in band and do music. We do band and marching band because we just get pure enjoyment out of them,” said Kindt.