Drum major auditions test leadership, musical ability, flexibility

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | 5:26 p.m. CDT; updated 5:24 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
From left, Zach Kohl, Nate Edwards, and Joe Schreimann were recently selected to be the MU marching band's drum majors for the coming school year. All three have been in the marching band since coming to MU. The three drum majors posed for a photograph outside Farout Field on Tuesday morning, where they will be leading the marching band this fall.

COLUMBIA — In a sea of white sparkling coats, three lone black-coated leaders stand out. These three people conduct, guide and provide a face for Marching Mizzou, the marching band for the MU football team. Juniors Nate Edwards and Joe Schreimann and senior Zach Kohl were selected Monday out of the fourteen who auditioned for the 2008 Marching Mizzou drum majors.

“A drum major has a huge amount of responsibility,” said Michael Knight, director of Marching Mizzou. “They are leaders on the field for the band. They conduct the band on the field in performance and in the stands in performance during football games.”


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Auditions for the three drum major positions took place over a span of three days with tests in many different areas. The candidates were interviewed and conducted Mini Mizzou, the pep band for the MU men’s basketball team. They each directed the small band in the Star-Spangled Banner and a song of their choice.

“The hardest part was conducting Mini Mizzou,” said Edwards, this year’s only returning drum major. “You are in front of your peers, who know what’s up, and they have been there before. You had better be on your A-game; otherwise they will know that you are nervous.”

The drum major candidates had a chance to teach fundamental marching skills to future section leaders of Marching Mizzou. They also took on the signature move of the Marching Mizzou drum major: the strut. The strut is a type of run across the field that takes place at the beginning each pre-game show at the home MU football games.

“The strut was probably the best part of auditions,” said drum major candidate Erik Dancy. He started practicing several days in advance to “see how low (he) could go.”

At the end of auditions, seven finalists conducted the band at Saturday’s Black and Gold game, which is the spring MU football scrimmage held to raise money for the Central Missouri Food Bank. Each finalist received about 6 minutes to pick appropriate songs to conduct at crucial times in the game.

“It’s not one particular aspect we are looking for but many, many smaller aspects that go into being a drum major,” Knight said.

He and the Marching Mizzou graduate assistants judged the candidates based on their leadership, ability to teach, strong musicianship and ability to command respect.

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