Strong Ties

Though born into an inner circle within the marching arts, one performer finds an ever-growing network of her own.

I was born into the center of a large marching band family. At the time, my father was the president and CEO of Bands of America (BOA), the organization my grandfather founded in 1976.  Before my first birthday, I attended the 200th anniversary of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band on the White House lawn with President Bill Clinton, the BOA Summer Symposium and numerous marching competitions. Growing up, a typical weekend in the fall included traveling with mom and dad to the next marching band show. I thought nothing of it. That just simply became a part of my life.

Expanded Family

Marching band introduces you to a whole new family, and for me this is more than true.  At competitions you could find me making myself at home in quite a few places: I would either be attached to my mom or dad, in the press box with Chuck Henson—the Voice of BOA—or on the field in the middle of all the action with educator Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser, a man whom I have come to call my uncle.

During the Summer Symposium, I would sit in the back of Dr. Tim’s leadership sessions or George N. Parks’ drum major track sessions.

strong-ties-2My Start

Growing up I was always mesmerized by the color guard. The way they moved and how they made tossing a flag or weapon look so effortless always intrigued me.

Fast forward: In seventh grade I decided to join the cadet winter guard program with our school district to compete within the Indiana High School Color Guard Association (IHSCGA). We finished that season as state champions.

In the fall of my eighth grade year, I joined the Marching Tigers of Fishers (Indiana) High School as a color guard member. Marching as an eighth grader was very difficult but extremely worthwhile because it added to my extended band family and allowed me to go into high school the following year with a large support group.

That winter I decided to go back to the cadet guard and ended up becoming a featured soloist; we finished as state champions for the second year in a row.

I joined the Fishers color guard again my freshman year for marching band and continued into the winter season where I—along with only one other freshman—made the high school’s varsity guard.

That year I also had the opportunity to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade with the 300-person Bands of America Honor Band. I had auditioned to participate in the winter of my eighth grade year.

I didn’t stop there; having been a percussionist since sixth grade, I joined our front ensemble for the fall season of my sophomore year. In that time I experienced more of the musical side of the marching band rather than just the visual aspects. That winter I returned back to the varsity guard to preform my last guard season. While many people find the transition between percussion and guard interesting and challenging, it just allowed for me to enjoy everything at once.

Prime Time

At the end of my sophomore year, I went through a multi-step audition process and was chosen as one of the drum majors for the 2014 season. I had many people tell me that the only reason I made drum major was because my dad was on staff. I had enough confidence in myself to brush off their comments, knowing I could prove that I earned my place in the following season. Through the entire process, all of my friends stuck by me. At the end of that season, one particular peer told me that he was wrong in his assumptions earlier that year and that I had become one of his favorite drum majors.

I had to re-audition and once again made drum major for the Tiger Band in my senior year. Going into this season, I felt more comfortable in some areas while I also had some newfound fears because it was my second year as a drum major.

Overall, I feel that our program has grown and excelled much more than I expected it to in such a short time. Our band has changed the culture and dedication at Fishers, and that has only grown the family bond stronger.

Featured photo courtesy of Megan Mellinger.

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