Chloe Farrar and Abigail Kent of Shreveport and Kaci Waguespack of Destrehan have been named as drum majors for the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band for 2021-22.
According to Interim Director of Bands Dan McDonald, the drum majors hold the highest-ranking student leadership position in the band. The drum majors are a liaison between the band members and the directors. McDonald said they offer support to any student that needs it and they help guide members on all things band, academics and college life.
“They are meant to be looked upon to help others and to represent the band as a whole. It is an incredibly important role in the band,” said McDonald. “Most fans recognize them because they conduct the band during halftime and in the stands. They march out front of the parade block, and they are the first on the field during our pregame performance. However, they do much, much more behind the scenes.”
McDonald said the drum majors are integral in the planning and teaching of all the band’s leaders throughout the spring and summer. They organize lessons and activities and do much of the teaching during our sessions.
“During our pre-season band camp in August, they teach all of our marching technique to members of the band,” said McDonald. “The drum majors teach much of the music during our large sectional time and they also help plan the activities of the camp.”
Kent, a senior music education major, is in her second year as a drum major after a 2020-21 school year in which the Spirit of Northwestern was unable to perform as a whole at Demon football games and events such as the Natchitoches Christmas Festival parade.
“With the lack of halftime performances of football games and less opportunities to play for an audience, there was no marching involved in marching band this past year,” said Kent. “However, we did our very best to make the most of it. Moving forward, we are very excited to have marching return to the 2021-2022 school year.”
In the fall 2020 semester, the Spirit of Northwestern was split into five different ensembles, Drumline, Demon Heat Colorguard, Demon Dazzlers, and the winds were split into two groups called the Purple Band and the Orange Band. McDonald said this was so that each group could focus on their area and dedicate time to enhancing skills while also following Covid protocols. A performance was held in late October to showcase the different groups and the work they had done all semester.
“In the fall, we didn’t have a marching show, so we were fully focused on producing entertaining music,” said Farrar who is in her second year as a drum major. “We only got to perform once at band extravaganza, but we were very thankful for the opportunity to perform at all. Our jobs shifted from teaching music and marching drill, to ensuring everyone’s safety and trying our hardest to produce music while being safe.”
In the spring, the band was split into six units. Some band members performed in two of our premier concert bands, Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble. They rehearsed several times a week and gave concerts throughout the semester. The other wind and percussion members formed the Athletic Band. This was a 120-member ensemble that performed at all basketball and football games in the spring semester.
The Demon Dazzlers Danceline rehearsed throughout the semester and performed at basketball and football games. The Demon Heat Colorguard split into two teams this spring. One team performed virtually by submitting videos to the Louisiana Mississippi Colorguard and Percussion Circuit (LMCGPC). They were judged and rated much like a normal performance. The other team performed virtually and in person for LMCGPC and Winter Guard International (WGI). They advanced to the WGI finals.
“While the overall routine for the Spirit of Northwestern was different, the role of drum major was less affected.” said Kent. “We still had the opportunity to conduct the best sounding band in the land and experience our new role in a football game setting, which was a big first for us. I mostly look forward to getting to lead the SON in Turpin Stadium for both pregame and halftime for the first time. I am very thankful for another opportunity to serve as drum major.”
Waguespack is a junior liberal arts with a concentration in humanities and social thought in the Louisiana Scholars’ College. She plays clarinet in various NSU concert bands depending on her schedule.
“Since I’ve been at Northwestern, I’ve always looked up to the drum majors, especially Chloe, Abby, and (former drum major) Hope (Spaw),” said Waguespack. “They’re something very inspiring about seeing people who you can identify with in powerful leadership roles. Women in leadership roles is something I’ve always valued, and to see them lead the SON made me think I could too.”
Waguespack’s high school band director Christopher Williams was a drum major at NSU in 2014-15. She hopes the upcoming year will be one in which the band can perform as a unit.
“Band is usually my source of stress relief, but the lack of opportunities to play has definitely taken a toll on my mental health,” said Waguespack. “For myself and others in the band, it has been really hard to be motivated throughout rehearsals without an end goal of performances in sight. The band extravaganza last October was our first step back towards normalcy, and I have very high hopes of what the upcoming year will look like for the Spirit of Northwestern. As a second-year member of the SON, I miss connecting with audiences, especially the kids who are aspiring musicians and have so much joy when they see us perform.”
Farrar is a senior with a double major of biology with a biomedical concentration and a minor in chemistry and applied microbiology.
“I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to serve the Spirit of Northwestern again as a drum major,” said Farrar. “I was very grateful to have the position last year, but there’s something special about standing in front of a band in full uniform and performing a full show. I already know that it’s going to be one of my favorite senior year memories.”
Pictured: Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band drum majors for 2021-22 are from left Kaci Waguespack of Destrehan, Abigail Kent of Shreveport and Chloe Farrar of Shreveport