Monday, July 4, 2022

Q&A with Spartan Marching Band’s fifth female drum major

December 5, 2019
Lisa Lachowski rehearses at Munn Field on Oct. 22, 2019.
Lisa Lachowski rehearses at Munn Field on Oct. 22, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

What does it mean to you being the fifth female drum major? 

When I think about that, I don’t think about being the fifth female that much. I think it is very cool and an honor to be that... It’s becoming more prominent since 1995’s number one, but I still think it’s hard to comprehend. Women weren’t allowed in the band until the 1970s. So, that’s partly why we didn’t have a female drum major for a long time, but it still took a while for us to get there and it’s still kind of rare. I think it’s cool, but in the bigger picture, it’s more like I love all the former drum majors and getting to be one of them is amazing.


How many people were drum majors in the band?

About two thirds of our band is comprised of former drum majors from high school. I don’t know the exact number, but many people come here. Sometimes, a freshman will go around the circle and it’s like, “Say something interesting about yourself,” and they’ll say, ‘I was a drum major in high school,’ and we’re like, “Hold up, who else was a drum major here?” And most people raise their hands. That’s the nature if you put a bunch of people together who really love band... You don’t have to be a drum major to be the best band person at all. A lot of them are just driven, leadership driven as well, and they end up coming in as drum majors.


What misconceptions do people have about drum majors? 

People generally think that — and there have been drum majors who have done this — we don’t do anything because we don’t play an instrument, we don’t conduct in the Big Ten, really... So they’re like, “What do drum majors do besides wear a tall hat?” I kinda get that because coming in it’s like, “I really don’t know what they would do.” But, to me, I wouldn’t give up playing my instrument for a tall hat and a back-bend. It means way more than that... We do a lot more than that and most of it is behind the scenes, which is what people don’t see. You kind of give up the performance aspect of it so you can help the whole band be better performers in the long run, hopefully."


What goes into auditioning for drum major? 

In previous years, we have an initial meeting, you buy your baton, you buy a couple whistles and get the equipment that you need. And then, as soon as you figure out that you want to start training for that, you need to be running and doing cardio and training your body first and foremost because a lot of the audition is physical itself. In the second semester, you go to clinics once or twice a week with the current drum major who will be training the next one.

They teach you the pregame routine, (and) ... the strutting to get out into that routine. The strut is when you lean back — which is very unnatural for your body, which is why you need to train for it... Then, we have whistles and commands and some basic marching with the baton just so we can watch and see what your basic fundamentals are because you should technically already be an exemplary marcher before you do any of the wacky stuff. 

Then, there’s a teaching portion where you pull a concept out of a hat like two minutes before you go and you teach a group of novice marchers for ten minutes just that concept. That’s probably the most important part of the audition because we want to see how are you as a visual teacher, you know, because that’s going to be your main job. Following that is an interview with the top three people... January to April you’re training. This year it’ll be in February.


Anything to add?

Band is something that — at least the Spartan Marching Band — is something that people don’t know a whole lot about, but you can easily learn more by going to our rehearsals, coming to games, watching us and even if you're a high school student, by auditioning yourself and seeing what this has to offer.


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