Band department returns to in-person auditions for important drum major roles


Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kon

Jonathan Kon, one of the current drum majors, conducts the band at a football game. The drum majors lead the band and organize events, along with the help of the drum minors.

Abby Knight, Staff Reporter

After a multiple-step audition process in February, the band department selected two new drum major assistants (drum minors), Lucas Keeley and Aaron Peng, for the next school year.

The two selected drum minors will serve as the drum majors, or leaders of the band, in their senior year. The current drum minors will take the lead in the class as drum majors next year, maintaining the cycle of leadership positions within the band.

“We had to answer a few questions online, then they had us conduct a few songs and had us march, just direct some marching, [it was] pretty simple,” said sophomore Aaron Peng, who was selected to take on the role of drum minor next year.

The current drum minors, majors and the band director each have a voice in selecting next year’s drum minors.

The audition process this year was completely different from the current drum majors’ audition process, which took place two years ago during distance learning.

“It was actually a digital audition, for two out of three of the events. I had to record myself conducting to invoke the Star Spangled Banner and a piece of my choice,” said senior and drum major Jonathan Kon, who auditioned for the role in 2021. “And then I also did a virtual interview, which was interesting. And then I remember we did the marching portion where I had to call commands for a small group of people in person.”

Both minors and majors serve to support music director Kyoto Yamamoto in any way possible. On a day-to-day basis, for instance, drum majors are basically the leaders of the class.

“You basically take on the position that every drum major takes on, which comes with leading the band in terms of marching, conducting, organizing and performing,” senior and current drum major Landon Stein said.

Drum majors conduct the band at events such as the Little Big Game, and bring pride and spirit to school activities.

“So in general, as drum majors, our primary goal is to take the load off of Ms. Yamamoto, and pretty much run the band in a way where we’re effective,” Kon said. “We’re doing our job, we’re supporting the community and the event and we’re performing at the best of our ability.”

The drum majors lead a variety of other events, including the Pet Parade, Memorial Day Parades, the Hillsborough Parade and a joint concert for eighth grade students who plan to join the band in high school.

The current drum minors, Kaylee Ng and Ryan Dokoza, have similar roles: They also have a leadership position in class, and they help the drum majors plan events.

“I’d say a big perk is just having a credible role and having people look up to you,” said junior Kaylee Ng, a current drum minor. “You have the responsibility of conducting whenever the drum majors are not available.”

Drum majors are responsible for arranging football game performances, and drum minors used to plan those for basketball games, but stopped due to lack of space in the gym. However, they still help out at sports games and important events.

“At events, we’re all kind of helping out with keeping everyone organized and making sure everyone’s in the right place at the right time, since the band has a lot of people,” Ng said.

Drum minors also spend their junior year training to take on the role of drum major.

“The whole point of this whole year, for me, is to look at what Jonathan Kon and Landon [Stein] are doing… and basically just use them as models to kind of learn what I should do and what my role is next year,” Ng said.

In terms of everyday activities, drum majors and minors help the band director, band teacher Kyoko Yamamoto to guide the class.

“You just have a lot more say in what happens throughout the years, and what your opinion is for Ms. Yamamoto, our director,” Stein said. 

For those who want to pursue a musical career, the role of drum minor or major offers the experience of directing band ensembles, conducting and bringing the music community together. As mentioned previously, the role requires significant commitment, dedication and responsibility.

“The position of drum major holds a lot of responsibility because it takes up a whole part of your free time, time outside of school,” Stein said. “You have to take charge, and that is something we don’t see in just everybody when considering the drum majors.”