Three Drum Majors Keep Pep Band Rolling


Ava Vande Corput, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

You hear their instruments play at football games, pep assemblies, and even in holiday parades, but many people don’t hear from the people behind the instruments that make up the Notre Dame Band.

The students who play in the Notre Dame band are led by second-year Notre Dame teacher Steve Johnson as well as the three senior drum majors:  Drew Gunville, Audrey Sladek and Elliot McGinnity Schneider.

The senior drum majors are chosen each year after giving speeches to the other band members. Then the upper band members vote for their drum major of choice.

“Only upper band is allowed to vote to ensure it’s not a popularity contest and make sure everything is fair,” stated Gunville.

Gunville, Sladek and McGinnity Schneider were chosen to be drum majors because of their love and dedication to the Notre Dame band since freshman year.

“I wanted to be a drum major because of the impact the past drum majors had on me. They showed me what an inclusive and fun group the band is as well as made me feel like a part of the group,” stated McGinnity Schneider.

Sladek more or less echoed his words, saying, “I wanted to be a drum major because it is a different band experience that I have never had. I have always played the music and thought it would be so awesome to actually conduct it. This is a wonderful leadership opportunity for me as well. I thought I would learn a lot about leadership and grow more confident as a whole.  I admire the past drum majors  we have had, andI want to be a good role model for our younger students, just like the past drum majors were for me.”
In order to be a successful drum major, each selected senior has to attend a week-long drum major camp.

They have to memorize many marching pieces as well as learn how to conduct, direct and cue nearly every instrument in the band in order to fulfill their role.

Not only did the drum majors have to attend a camp to learn new skills, but they also had to adjust to the new location at the football game.

Instead of standing right in front of the student section, the band now plays in the upper right hand corner of the field next to the scoreboard.

“We like the new location because we are not stuffed in the stands. Also, the sections and the band as a whole could not hear each other which made playing a lot more complicated,” said McGinnity Schneider.

“The band is also directional, so unless you were on the other side of the field, you could not hear anyone but the instruments standing near you,” explained Gunville.

Overall, the reasons the drum majors like being in charge of the band was a unanimous vote towards working to be able to improve the band as well as showcase the abilities of the talented students.

“In the end, my goal is to make the younger members feel included in the group, and I believe that’s the true goal of being a drum major,” said McGinnity Schneider.