Marching Madness: An Interview with Brandon Parkes


Jade Najarro, Writer

Brandon Parkes is a cheerful, humorous 17-year-old high school senior here at CHS. He first started playing in the band when he was in 6th grade, where he briefly played the trombone before switching to the bassoon. Ever since then, Brandon has continued to perform in band throughout middle school and high school. Now, he performs in the school’s Symphonic Band, where he is the only bassoon player.


Brandon also performs in the high school Marching Band, where he serves as Drum Major alongside junior Maddie Morrow. After performing regularly in the Marching Band throughout high school, he was able to land the position his senior year. Recently, Brandon was interviewed about his experience as Drum Major.


When did you first join Marching Band?

My 8th-grade year of middle school.


How did you do Marching Band in 8th-grade?

So in [my] 8th-grade [year], there was another band director, Mr. Steelnack. He and the middle school band director Mr. Elzey allowed 8th-graders to march with the high schoolers. But that stopped when [the previous director] Mr. Shive came to the high school after Mr. Steelnack retired.


Has Marching Band been an enjoyable experience for you?

…Yeah. At some points, it is, and at some points, it’s not. Mostly just because of the environment that I was set in, but like, on average, yeah, pretty much.


What instrument did you play before becoming Drum Major?

Alto saxophone.


Were you a good player?

I like to think I was.


Have you ever had any other leadership positions within Marching Band?

I was a librarian for one year my junior year.


What did you do as a librarian?

As a librarian, my responsibilities were to make sure each individual section had copies of the music and of drill charts, which basically tell us where we are in the show and how to get there. Other responsibilities were to make any extra copies if the original copies were to get misplaced or destroyed.


What made you want to try out for Drum Major?

I don’t know, actually. That’s actually a really good question. I just saw other people doing it, and I was like, “I want that.” And then I’m it.


What are your responsibilities as Drum Major?

Some of my responsibilities include like making sure everyone is on the [practice] field on time. Make sure everyone is getting dressed on time. Making sure everyone’s prepared, has their instrument, no one has died, and making sure just everything runs smoothly as like, kinda like a mini [band] director.


Is it fun being Drum Major?

Kinda? It’s definitely different with the new [band] directors. There’s just a lot more pressure on just the whole entire leadership crew, not just the Drum Majors. Like we never had to deal with so much at a time. But some points it can be fun, some points, I do just wanna quit.


How are things different with the new band directors?

The responsibility part of it is ultimately the biggest change I have seen, [as well as] a combination of the huge influx of freshman coming into the program and leadership people who [are not prepared for the role]. [Leadership responsibilities include] making sure everyone is focused and attentive to what is going on, [checking that] everyone has [their things] for football games, competitions, and parades, and [making] sure everyone doesn’t step out of line. It may not sound like a lot, but a lot of sections have ten plus members with at least two section leaders, which puts a lot of pressure on the leadership [team]. As a drum major, it’s my responsibility to look after everyone, leadership or not.


How do you feel now that the old band director, Mr. Shive, has left?

When I first heard the news of Mr. Shive [leaving] the school, to put it short, the disappointment and grief were insurmountable. Knowing that the teacher I started high school with wasn’t going to be there for my senior year was heartbreaking. Now, I’m making the most of the situation. I still am very grateful that we get a marching season, but it doesn’t feel the same.


Is being Drum Major different from what you expected?

Absolutely. I always saw what was going on on the [Drum Major] podium, but not during sectionals. I thought that like, I would just be walking around helping out different sections. But now I have to do a sectional myself with the other Drum Major. So absolutely, it’s completely different from what I expected.


What’s it like working with the other Drum Major, Maddie?

I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not bad, but it’s different. And that’s the best that I can explain it.


Have you ever regretted being Drum Major?

At one point, I did. But I don’t really anymore. At one point, I did regret auditioning. But now I just don’t, and I just deal with it.


Despite it taking up a lot of his time, Brandon still enjoys Marching Band. When asked about his plans for the future, he responded that he is thinking about continuing to pursue music after high school. However, Marching Band isn’t something that he would want to do in college. But for now, he’s continuing to lead the CHS band at football games and competitions with enthusiasm.