About the McNeese Summer Drum Major Academy

The High School Band Academy Handbook

Note:  Drum Majors must bring their concert instrument (including mouthpieces, mutes, reeds, percussion sticks & mallets etc.)

Note: The McNeese Drum Major Academy is not designed to teach mace technique for Big 10-style drum majoring

Basic Components: 

* Conducting Fundamentals

* Verbal Commands

* Score Reading

* Teaching of marching fundamentals

* Organizational & Personal Leadership

* Team Building

* Concert band rehearsals & performance

The Drum Major Academy has been designed with input from past participants and band directors.  The curriculum is carefully planned to teach drum majors the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to lead their peers and serve as effective assistants to their directors.  The focus of the camp is on the development of the four basic areas of leadership in a marching musical setting: conducting, marching, teaching and leadership.

Conducting: Students attending the Drum Major Academy learn to effectively communicate musical ideas and intent through conducting patterns and gestures.  Participants learn a common style, which can then be adapted by the student in consultation with their band director to best fit the style of their school and program.  Students learn basic patterns in 2, 3 and 4, as well as mixed meter and compound meter patterns.  They learn to demonstrate dynamics and style of music, as well as cuing and more advanced techniques.

Marching and Teaching: Skills in the teaching of marching techniques are fundamental to the drum major, as he/she can be an primary asset in teaching marching fundamentals.  Participants in the Drum Major Academy work together in large and small marching experiences, simulating working with an entire band or a section.  Students learn a common marching style at camp and leave ready to adapt their new knowledge to their school’s style.

Each small group is supervised by a McNeese instructor; the instructor and the students work as team to develop every student’s ability to teach marching basics and drill, as well as their skills at error detection and cleaning.  Students return to their home schools with an understanding of what constitutes a unified marching style, the skill to teach and clean a variety of styles, and the confidence required to call commands and teach their peers.

The teaching and error detection skills learned in the marching component transfer easily to other areas of the ensemble, including rehearsal of winds, percussion and color guard.  Fundamental to our philosophy is “completing the feedback loop.”  Many student leaders are very skilled at giving instructions, but fall short of seeing and hearing whether their instructions were carried out successfully and uniformly.  At the McNeese All-Star Summer Camp, participants learn to give instructions succinctly and effectively, but they also concentrate on error detection and ensuring their peers understand and can execute their instructions.

Leadership: Conducting, marching and teaching are important skills for every student leader in a marching band, but they are useless without a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a leader.  Students in the Drum Major Academy focus on the concept of “Servant Leadership.”  This concept, coined by Richard Greenleaf and championed by leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Stephen Covey, teaches students they can and will achieve the best results with their ensemble by thinking of the needs of their peers and teachers first. 

We discourage the leader-as-a-star model and encourage participants to develop their skills as listeners, motivators, and builders of community.  Participants emerge ready to see the bigger picture, assist their teachers and directors in a positive and collaborative way, and focus on results rather than authority.  Students return to their home schools with the knowledge to lead in an effective way, the skills to communicate up and down the leadership chain, and the confidence to do what is needed to benefit the band as a whole.

Learning Goals & Outcomes for the Drum Major Academy:

Students will:

* Develop a basic working knowledge of conducting in arc and focal point techniques in common time signatures of 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 as well as compound meter and mixed meter.

* Develop skills in rudimentary score analysis.  Section leaders will look at scores for common mistakes and as a music teaching tool, while drum majors will examine scores for conducting issues including cues and dynamics.

* Develop their ability to lead their peers musically, including warm-ups and rehearsal techniques.

* Develop their ability to lead their peers in a marching rehearsal, especially basic marching skills.

* Develop their ability to lead their peers and work with their directors and staff in a positive manner, consistent with the goals of servant leadership.

Pre-Academy Information Letter