'For Drum Majors Only' workshop fast approaching

Clinician Sam Saunders on his memorable moments

In just nine days, current and aspiring drum majors will have their day in the spotlight! A day to learn and grow, and ready themselves for a fantastic marching season that lies ahead! Ben Johnstown 6-10.JPG

The Cadets and the US Scholastic Band Association are thrilled to bring current and auditioning drum majors the ‘For Drum Majors Only’ workshop on Saturday, April 30. Running in tangent with The Cadets rehearsal camp at Woodstown High School in Woodstown, N.J., ‘For Drum Majors Only’ features current and alumni drum majors who will share the skills and expertise necessary to lead a marching band from the band room to the podium. With an emphasis on leadership and communication skills, this workshop is a must for anyone auditioning for a Drum Major position or looking to improve their skills for the coming year.


Former Cadets Drum Major Sam Saunders (2002-2003) is one of six Cadets drum majors scheduled to lead the workshop. Let’s hear a little more from him on his experiences as drum major:

When did you decide to be a drum major and what influenced you to make that decision?

Well, in my time we didn't have drum major auditions. It was one of these situations where George Hopkins just kind of surveyed the corps membership and more or less offered us the position.  

I decided to take the job for two reasons - primarily because it was an honor and an incredibly worthwhile challenge, and secondly because I wanted to continue with the corps, but I wasn't sure that my (already suspect) knees could take another season of running around with a tuba on my shoulder. 

What was your best day ever as a drum major? 

My best day as a drum major was actually after my official duties had ended. When I became drum major, I was kind of "in the weeds" regarding the ins and outs of the battery's role in the Cadet system. My only background in music was four years of drum corps tuba (read: lots of whole notes), so the whole ensemble timing thing was a huge mystery. 

I struggled with it for both years on the podium, but by the end I got to be proficient. About two weeks after finals, one of our bass drummers emailed me and told me that despite my initial struggles, the battery really had respect for me and had noticed how far I had come since the beginning. At that point I knew that I had managed to achieve everything I wanted to achieve as drum major. It was a big deal for me. 

A close second was conducting the encore to the encore at DCI East in 2002. The crowd wanted us to play Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy again, so we did. People were going nuts. It was an excellent feeling. 

 What is the single most important thing to becoming a successful drum major? 

A successful drum major's most important job is really to be a professional at all times. In our activity, this really boils down to balancing the role's primary responsibility (the success of the institution) with everything else, including personal relationships.  

A shorter way to say this is that the sooner a drum major figures out that there is a difference between being liked and being respected, the more successful he or she will be. 

 How has being a drum major changed your life?  

In several ways, most notably stress- and time-management. At this point it takes quite a lot of stress to interfere with me. I worked in the felony division of the Washtenaw County Public Defender's office during law school - a very high-stress situation - and can honestly say that even on my toughest days in the courtroom, there was never a point where I cracked like some of my colleagues. Same situation with the bar exam -- the stress and pressure of it never really got to me because frankly, it wasn't as tough as a tense Cadet ensemble rehearsal in the middle of the summer or performing 2 minutes of brand new music and drill that the corps learned that morning. 

Also, I'm now physically incapable of being late for anything. 

Other things too…

Confidence, pragmaticism, creative thinking, problem solving. You name it. 



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