Female Drum Major Leads Kiltie Marching Band
In four years, Beth Kirchenberg went from knowing next to nothing
about marching band to being Alma College’s first female drum major.
“In high school we really only marched in parades — we focused on concert band,” says the senior from Manistee. “When I came here it was a complete turn around. As a freshman, in two weeks I had to master marching techniques I never even knew existed. I love every minute of it.”
Kirchenberg has played the flute and piccolo for 12 years, which actually deterred her dream of being a drum major in high school.
Alma College Drum Major Beth Kirchenberg
wasn't allowed to try out for drum major in high school because I was
the only piccolo player, and my director said she needed me more on the
field to lead the others in my section,” she says.
She hadn’t even planned on trying out for the spot at Alma, but after encouragement from marching band director Dave Zerbe and many of her friends, she decided to take the risk.
“I had to conduct a previous marching tune and the alma mater using appropriate vocal commands and techniques in front of a small group of professors and peers,” she says of her audition.
“I am very proud being a female drum major,” she says. “I know there have been female assistants in the past, but I am very honored to be the one running the show.”
Kirchenberg practiced conducting with a recording all summer, but as drum major, conducting is only one of her tasks. She also helps fix field placement, calls drill, and deals with problems like attendance and uniforms.
She also helps with musical problems and makes sure everything is on the field for the band’s daily practices.
“The best part of being drum major is being able to see the finished product,” she says. “When you are the one marching, you often don't get to see the result of your hard work. Up on the podium I get to see how they grow. Each day they get stronger and it is incredible to see.”
Posted: Wed, September 17th, 2008 at 8:45AM