Being a high school and drum corps drum major as well as competing in conducting competitions take one student in a whole new direction in life.
My very first experience in music occurred in my three years of middle school show choir. It came and went, but I did not find myself completely devoted to music until I joined band at Burbank (California)High School in ninth grade. I originally pursued snare drum. Music seemed to take up a majority of my time and grew into a passion. I decided to take on a leadership role very quickly due to my love for music. I knew I wanted to become a well-rounded musician and leader, to spread my devotion of music to everyone else in the program and to help my program grow and succeed.
My name is Gilbert Nazari, and I am a drum major, bass drummer and tuba player.
During my freshman year, a friend invited me to a rehearsal for City Sound Drum and Bugle Corps in Long Beach, California. I went in with limited knowledge but instantly fell in love. I joined City Sound and played bass drum. I spent the entire summer improving as a musician. I learned how much hard work goes into a top-scoring performance and how much self-discipline,motivation and talent is required.I also learned an entirely new method of operation that I was able to take back home with me just in time for the new school year.
Going back into my high school’s marching program as a sophomore, I was chosen as the assistant drum major. After spending an entire summer with many devoted musicians, I knew that the spirit of the Burbank Bulldogs needed to be revitalized. My high school band director, Mr. Michael Stanley, has always inspired me to pursue my ambitions on and off of the field. Together, we worked out methods that would implement the skills learned from drum corps to a small but strong marching band of 70 people. Being stricter about standing at attention,being meticulous with learning drill and music and acting more professionally in the stands and on the field were just some of the new standards we set to become a more polished group.
After the 2013 marching season, I became interested in individual drum major competitions and attended a camp instructed by the World Drum MajorAssociation (WDMA).
WDMA hosts two types of competitions:conducting and equipment flourishing. In conducting, drum majors conduct a recording of their selected piece. Contestants are judged on Musical Leadership, Technique and General Effect, which includes everything from beat patterns to uniform appearance.In flourishing, drum majors perform routines with their equipment, whether mace or military baton. For both types,competitors are divided into three classes: Novice, Open and World Class.
I competed in the Novice conducting portion of WDMA. After carefully and meticulously picking apart the rules and regulations, I continuously and tediously practiced my song, “Ride” by Samuel R. Hazo, for about three months. The song has many meter and style changes to showcase a vast spectrum of my abilities.
Preparing was difficult at first because you have to get into the habit of critiquing yourself and accepting criticism. As I grew to understand my errors and how to fix them, I looked to my high school band director for as much knowledge that my arms could grasp.
Going to the actual drum major competition was always fun. Whether frantically practicing in the car while driving over or listening to my piece 30times on repeat, it all served to be part of the reason why I was there, and I never ceased to find method in my madness. In my first year, I ended up with three first place medals and became the Novice Class conducting champion.
After finding success in the WDMA circuit,I headed back into drum corps with anew position in mind. I became the drum major for City Sound for the 2014 season.With a new perspective of the field came new and unexpected challenges. Many people decided to leave the corps early on,leaving us with less to build upon. Reality set in, but there was no time to mourn over something we had not yet lost. We took advantage of all the strengths in our group and flaunted the talents of all of our members, which left us with an energetic and unforgettable show.
I am now the head drum major for Burbank High School. My leadership is constantly improving along with the trust of my peers and band director. My dedication has only increased along with my skill in mace work and teaching abilities. We recently were invited to go to the Arcadia(California) Festival of Bands competition,which we had not been to for many years.We were eager to show them our immense talent and boundless capabilities.
What really inclined me to keep moving forward in my marching and musical journey are the people that I befriended along the way. Being a drum major, even marching in general, allows me to build such great friendships and bonds with quality people who understand and share my musical aspirations.
Becoming a drum major has spun my life into a completely different direction.I have found my place and reason through music. It has contributed to all my successes, on and off of the field and podium. Music has made me a more efficient and logical person. It’s made me completely self-motivated and constantly enthusiastic about new challenges.
Everything that I know about leadership branches off from drum majoring.As drum major, I have difficult tasks constantly thrown at me, but I always find a way to overcome and succeed with grace.
Being drum major means being responsible for up to 100 people at a time while still maintaining a cool persona, a likable character and stability in all aspects of life.
The entirety of my marching experience has never had a dull moment and has never failed to captivate me within describable spirit. I have gained anew-found sense of pride in myself. I definitely advise anybody speculating a drum major candidacy to just try it.
About the Author
Gilbert Nazari is currently a junior at Burbank High School in Burbank, California. He works independently as a barber and marches in many other circuits and organizations (Drum Corps International, WGI indoor percussion and Southern California Percussion Alliance). He is currently the drum major at his high school and plays tuba for concert band.