A Lifetime Journey

Being the daughter of the guard coach led to unique challenges for one performer.

Photo by Bailey Schaffer

Band isn’t just an activity; it’s a journey. My journey in band has been quite unique.

I have been around the Crane (Texas) High School band program my entire life. My mom gave birth to me in March of 1996, and the following August, she stepped down from coaching the Crane color guard line to raise me. After a year and a half, she had my sister, Kerri. She felt that with babies that young, it was best if she wasn’t coaching color guard, but she missed it tremendously.

Kinder Guard

As soon as we started school, she went back to her role as coach, but this time it was different; she was a mommy, too. My sister and I went to most rehearsals with my mom. We were her little shadows, and the color guard members loved it.

I remember walking with my sister every day from the elementary school to the high school, which is only about a block away, to meet my mom.

Most kids our age were learning to write their names and count to 10, but we were learning how to do double spins and pump jack tosses while marking time. We had no idea how unusual it was for a kindergarten student to be doing the stuff we were; that’s all we knew.

Band Days

Through being at the band hall so often, my sister and I both grew very close to the directors, especially Mr. Daniel Todd, the head director. He enjoyed entertaining us with Nerf balls and other toys that he kept in his office when we started getting in the way of rehearsals. That relationship lasted well up into middle school when I started beginner band. I wanted to play the clarinet. He begged me to play the French horn, but I was determined to play clarinet because that’s what my older cousin Kaitlin played. He gave in.

Like a Target

When I got into high school, I knew I wanted to be in color guard. It came so easy to me since I had been doing it my whole life, and I breezed through tryouts, keeping up with the veterans. But being the coach’s kid wasn’t nearly as easy as tryouts had been. I always had a target on my back. Everybody always said that I only made it because my mom was the coach. To prove them wrong, I had to work 10 times harder and be 10 times better. It was rough, but I loved guard, so it was worth it.

Something New

I began considering trying out for drum major the spring of my freshman year. I knew it was a long shot, being so young and all, but the next year was a state year, and I wanted nothing more than to help lead the band to the Alamodome for the state marching contest. We only get to compete at the state level every other year. I was a little hesitant at first because being drum major meant no more guard, but I couldn’t help it; I had to try out.

I approached Dominic Rivas, the senior drum major at the time, and asked him to work with me on conducting, marching and vocal commands. I worked with him several times after school, and he taught me everything I needed to know for the tryout.

I was beyond excited when I found out I had made drum major. Despite losing me from the guard line, my mom was so excited for me. She knew I had done the right thing for me and for the band, and she was just as ready as I was for the following marching season.

Life as a Leader

I continued my role as drum major throughout my sophomore, junior and senior years. Transitioning from guard to drum major wasn’t difficult; the real challenge was being a drum major as a sophomore. As drum major you are expected to lead the band, and you are responsible for the conduct of the band during performances and rehearsals. I had no idea how difficult this would be as an underclassman. I had no respect from most of the students, and I had to prove myself over and over again to even be taken seriously. All in all, I would never have traded it for the world; it was a great learning experience.

In life you won’t always be treated with the authority you think you deserve, but even when you don’t get the recognition you expected, you still have to get the job done and do it with a good attitude. That is way more rewarding than a pat on the back or someone’s, “Yes ma’am.”

Every year I learned a little more and got a little better. My teachers and family were all supportive of me, not only in my role as drum major but also in my playing. They have pushed me to make myself better in everything I do, and that is what has made my journey through band so great. It’s sad realizing that this is my senior year, and that this 13-year journey is almost over. I’ll definitely miss the incredible staff at Crane and all the friends I’ve made along the way.

The Crane High School Band has helped shape the person I have become, and I’m so blessed to have been a part of it.

About the Author

Andrea Dannheim is a senior at Crane (Texas) High School. She has been the drum major for three years and will be graduating in June. She has been accepted to Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, and plans to march in the Ram Band this coming fall.

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