Marching to her Own Beat (Q&A): Caroline Heyl is the only sophomore drum major in marching band this year
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What is your role in Marching Band and why is it important?
Drum majors during competitions their most major role is conducting and stuff like that. During practice, it’s a lot more micromanaging such as leading small exercises, rehearsal, warm ups and helping people be the best marchers and players they can be. So it’s just a lot of going around and helping people–kind of like a team captain.
How were you chosen for this role?
There was an audition process in April that was right after spring break. We had to prepare a conducting sample, write an essay and answer questions at a face to face interview. I wrote a pretty lengthy response to the essay questions. I think the total was like 8 pages, so I went in there and I think they were impressed with my written application and the sample of my conducting and the questions I answered in there. That all led to getting appointed for the position.
What was it like auditioning and knowing that you were one of the youngest people?
I went into the process of auditioning without any expectations. I wanted to keep my options open if I wanted to audition in years to follow. So I went in thinking, ‘I am a sophomore. There is no way anything is going to happen.’ But, I did put in effort into the audition that I think they (band directors) ended up appreciating that. It was a weird experience because I found out the day of my audition. I did not expect anything, but then I was getting texts from people. At first, I was confused, so it was just a whirlwind.
Can you describe your reaction to the news and how other people reacted?
I wasn’t expecting getting the results the day of, so I never actually saw them (the results) posted up in the hallway. Since I did get them the day of my audition, people were texting me congratulations. At first I thought, ‘they’re probably just talking about the fact that I auditioned today.’ Them, I ended up getting a picture of the results. After I got that picture, I was receiving so many different reactions. My most memorable reaction from that day is when someone said, ‘I feel so lucky that I am friends with the person who is a sophomore drum major.’ On the other side of the coin though, someone said ‘Everybody hates you now. Lol.’ There were definitely a lot of different reactions. I know people did feel negatively about me, but it was never to my face. That was a positive, I guess. I had more allies that I had enemies.
Can you describe your experience as the first sophomore drum major?
It’s been really weird. It was a lot weirder when we were not in the marching band season. Once we started, it was a little awkward because I was trying to get people to listen to me. There were people that are two years my senior who I am supposed to lead and order around in some aspects. It was weird at first, but I think as the season went on people began to see my own abilities instead of the fact that I am younger. People started to see that and I think people just began to forget about it. Now, I am just one of the other ones–one of the other four drum majors.
Which podium do you stand on and what does that mean?
There are four different podiums for all of us. There’s the center, which is the most important because they keep tempo and they watch the drums to keep tempo with the band. They’re basically controlling the speed that the band is going at. Then, we have two other drum majors in the front. The center podium is at the left side of the field and on the right side of the field is my podium, which in a way is the second most important because I am controlling that entire side of the field for the people who can not see the left side. Theres also one drum major on the far left and one in the back. I am on the 35 yard line to the right, if you are facing the football field.
Was it at all intimidating to be the first sophomore drum major?
In a lot of ways it was intimidating. Again, there were a lot of mixed reactions from people. I felt like I had a lot to live up to because it’s mostly upperclassmen. Its definitely a lot of how do I speak up in a way that people won’t be angry with me. It’s just a matter of getting used to talking to people in a way that they respect you.
Has this experience been what you expected it to be?
I was really nervous going in to marching band. Going into marching band last year, as my first year, I kind of built myself on the fact that other people have been through this. It will be okay. This year, when I got drum major, not a lot of people are chosen for this. It is a very small amount of people and I thought what if they (band directors) made a mistake? What if I am not prepared or ready for the jobs? It did take an adjustment and I was really really nervous. It takes time, but ultimately you are able to do it. It has not been bad.
Anything else you would like to add?
I love the band. I know this is cliche to say, but this is like a big family. I am very honored to be in a position where I can be leading them and looking to me for guidance. It has been a wonderful experience so far and I am excited to see where we go the rest of the season.