Drum Major Elections

A drum major or Field Commander is the leader of a marching band and in my opinion is the most important person in the marching band. Every year, the Tuesday before our last home game (this year it fell on 10/9/15), drum major elections would occur. This was my first time experiencing this process and I can tell you it is quite an experience.

The tradition of electing a new drum major goes back decades. There is a strict procedure that must be followed. Weeks before the actual date, papers with space for nominations are posted around the band room. It is not all serious, I mean Kim Il Sung was nominated (well I mean, he did invent marching band and founded Cornell). The head manager would read out all of the nominations while people could chose to either accept or deny the nomination. Anyone who accept the nomination would then be locked up in the band office for the remainder of the night.

This year there were a total of “5 people” running. I put 5 people in quotation marks because two “people” ran for fun and one of those “people” were actually five different people because they ran as “all-the-Jordan-in-band”. It is also a tradition for a freshman trumpet to go and run for drum major. This year, the honor went to Fat Tony.

The procedure for each audition if you will is as follows. First the candidate would play two songs. Star spangled banner and a song of their choice. Then the candidate would conduct a 5 minute rehearsal with the song they chose, trying to improve it and allowing the whole band to get a feel of what their style would be like. After this rehearsal, they are given time to do a 5 minute speech on why they themselves think they should be the drum major. After this was question and answer time, where any member of band would be allowed to ask the candidate a question about anything. After all of the candidates were done, a discussion between the band members would occur.

First the not serious candidates went. All-the-Jordan-in-band chose to each conduct a different song creating a bizarre clash of sounds. It was a great moment. Fat Tony presented a speech from a video game. It mood was all very relaxed and the questions and answer sessions were all very silly.

When the three actual candidates started their audition, things became much more serious. Much more serious questions regarding the future of band was asked. People were taking notes and listening in to what everyone had to say. All this time the candidates were locked up in the band room, not able to listen in. After all the candidates were done, there was a huge discussion about what everyone thought of each candidate. This discussion section was not mandatory so I decided to go back to North and not participate in the discussion.

In order to vote, we had to be present for all of the candidates auditions. Officially, elections started at 9pm and it didn’t end till 2am. It was a very long night. But by the end of the night, the band elected a new drum major. As per tradition, the new drum major is not announced, but instead he will wear the drum major whistle the next day, indicating that he is the drum major.

It was a very long but fun experience and I look forward to these elections for the next three years.


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