University of Southern California’s First Female Drum Major

A photo of India Anderson at USC.

When the University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Marching Band announced India Anderson as its first female drum major in April 2019, the musical prelude seemed fitting for the historic moment. According to Anderson, however, it was simply standard procedure.

Just as the announcement was handled the same way as prior years, Anderson plans to approach the role in the same way as her predecessors. “I don’t think a female drum major should treat the position any differently,” she says.

Leading the Spirit of Troy, the USC drum major dresses as a Trojan warrior and conducts with a sword. Therefore, the costume itself appears male-gendered. However, Anderson pushes back. “I don’t see why it couldn’t be a woman,” she says. “We’re not putting on a historical reenactment.”

Anderson’s costume will have a female breastplate but will otherwise be the same.

To prepare for the audition, Anderson began a year and a half before the selection process by going regularly to the gym and attending weekly sectionals hosted by the previous drum major. She and other hopefuls made their own practice swords out of pipe.

After passing an interview and preliminary physical audition, final candidates perform the routine on the field in front of the entire band. Then every member votes. The section leaders play music until the votes are counted and the name announced.

“It’s so great to be able to have this position after working so hard,” Anderson says.

Photo courtesy of Ben Hua.

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Jamie Lee Cortese

Jamie Lee Cortese graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in Radio/TV/Film and political science. Jamie also writes scripts and is an actor, singer, and director who hosts a weekly radio show, Jammin’ with Jamie. Visit her website and read her blog at