Hug a Grad Assistant

They lurk in the shadows or hover on top of tall towers. They have quick feet, frantic arms and growl loudly, especially when they’re overexcited or if you ever step out of line. But what does this creature have to do with marching band? Got ya stumped?

They’re graduate assistants, of course.

Truthfully, I was rather intimidated by them and never got to know them very well when I was an undergrad. But I definitely know how much they did for our band. They made our lines straighter and our sound more cohesive because, frankly, the band director can’t be in more than one place at a time.

The feature article “Grad Assistants: Unsung Heroes” sings the praises of those irreplaceable instructors who don’t step into the limelight very often.

And so I dedicate this publisher’s letter to all of my prior Northwestern University (NU) graduate assistants, particularly those I’ve become reacquainted with because of Halftime Magazine. Since being at NU, they’ve definitely made prominent names for themselves in the band world.

  • Christopher J. Woodruff joined the faculty at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo as associate director of bands in 2006. We met up at Drum Corps International World Championships in 2007 when he became one of our first subscribers.
  • Carolyn A. Barber is director of bands at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and joins the ranks of the very few top female directors.
  • Elizabeth Driskell is the band director at McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she teaches 6th and 7th grade band and jazz band. She is also the current president of the NUMBALUMS, band alumni from Northwestern University. I’m proud to serve on the board with her and have learned a lot from her this past year.

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.

To the rest of you, I say, go and hug your graduate assistant.

Musically Yours,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

About the author

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Christine Ngeo Katzman has played the flute since the age of 8. She marched in the Northwestern University Marching Band, including the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl. She graduated cum laude from Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1997. Since then, she has worked in the publishing industry as a writer and editor and helped launch Play Music, a magazine for recreational musicians, sponsored by American Music Group (now Music and Arts Center). In the summer of 2006, Christine worked at Yamaha where she interacted with staff and students in various marching bands and drum corps. Christine earned her MBA with honors from the University of Southern California in May 2007.

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