Changes to band leadership yield mixed responses

September 27, 2018 — by Sofia Jones and Connie Liang

With their backs to the empty bleachers, junior Alena Jarrett and seniors AJ Lee and Deyshna Pai stood on raised blocks on the football field recently for a normal after school rehearsal, and motioned to the beat of the music. Before them, a moving column of students holding clarinets, flutes and trumpets spread out across the field and stepped into position.

Jarrett, Lee and Pai are three drum majors who hold traditionally integral roles in the marching band leadership hierarchy. This year, however, members of the 140-member marching band are learning a new show, titled “A Dream Within,” as well as adapting to a student leadership system.

Band leadership in previous years put drum majors at the top of the hierarchy, followed by general managers, managers and section leaders. The new system, in contrast, has multiple manager teams rather than just one, replaces general managers with seven captains and almost doubles the number of students in leadership positions, from 29 members last year to 41 members this year.

“We wanted to improve upon last year where, with a small leadership team, we couldn’t get a lot of things done because there were just not enough people to do it,” Lee said.

The leadership team’s goals for the year are to increase connections between upperclassmen and underclassmen and help lessen the stress on band directors Jason Shiuan, Michael Boitz and Andrew Ford. The newly assigned captains are essentially taking on a pre-drum major role; they lead and give advice to their respective sections.

The increase of people in each manager team means responsibility for jobs getting done is delegated to more people, ideally improving efficiency.

Shiuan noted that the group dynamic differs from year to year depending on who applies and who is in the group. With this particular group, however, he thinks it is going well.  

“This year, a larger leadership team seems to be working out,” Shiuan said. “People are starting to feel more involved in the program, and it helps them take ownership of the ensemble.”

However, the new leadership team system is something some veterans are still adjusting to. Junior Brass Captain Joshua Yoon said that he believes there may now be too many people with leadership positions.

“Last year, there was a tighter connection between everyone,” he said. “Leadership is already big enough, but this year it's so big I sometimes have trouble remembering everyone.” On the other hand, Lee sees this as an opportunity for more students to take on the role of helping the adjusting freshmen, thereby fostering a more cohesive program for everyone.

Shiuan and others are seeing improvements from these changes and believe it is helping the band prepare for the approaching competition season in October.

“These new changes are really beneficial for this group, and as the season goes on, it feels like a step in the right direction,” Shiuan said.


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