This year, the Pride of Paoli has selected a new drum major, and senior Alicia Neale has been chosen to fill the spot at the podium. At the end of last school year, the POP held auditions open to anyone in the band who would like to fill the position. The audition process included writing an essay about why they wanted to be a drum major, being interviewed by the band and former band director Ben Werne and conducting the band through The Star Spangled Banner and the school song.
Over the summer, Neale went to a drum major camp at Ball State University called Music For All Summer Symposium.
“To help prepare for this season, I attended a drum major camp that lasted one week. It was very informative and it helped me improve my conducting skills,” said Neale.
Neale isn’t the only one in her family who has had the opportunity to lead the Pride. Part of her motivation to audition came from her grandmother and her mother who were drum majors before her.
“I wanted to become a drum major because I have had two people who were drum majors at Paoli many years ago. I thought it would be truly amazing to carry on the legacy in my family,” said Neale.
It takes a lot more than knowing how to conduct to be a drum major. For Neale, it also means being a role model for the rest of the band.
“What being drum major means to me is someone to look up to and someone to rely on, not only with the music, but also as a close friend,” said Neale.
Neale had to navigate a few changes when she transitioned from being in the hornline to being the drum major, including adjusting to a new director.
“Changing directors right before marching band season was very stressful. I was taught a lot of different ways to conduct the same music and it got very confusing. It was hard to tell who to listen to about my conducting style. Although it was challenging, it has gone quite smoothly since the change. Thankfully, we all adapted to the new director very quickly,” said Neale.
Neale looks to improve everyday and earn the band’s trust.
“I think the band, as a whole, needs to work on staying together musically because sometimes we tear apart. Personally, I want to improve on conducting well enough for the band to be confident in my tempo,” said Neale.
Even with all the new challenges, Neale is looking forward to this year’s marching band season.
“I am very excited for this season because we have a lot of potential as well as the talent of each individual. I see this season going exceedingly well and I hope that we can fully live up to our potential. I am so thankful that I have this position and I hope to be the best I can be for the band,” said Neale.
Story by Angie Ceja