The sound of guitar floats around the room at 6 a.m. as junior Shadi Frank stretches and readies to face the day as the junior drum major of the PRHS band. Much of the work she does may go unnoticed, but her dedication helps take thundering drums, blasting trumpets and delicate bird-like flutes and transform them into dulcet songs–and top places in band competitions.
Frank, who dons in the spotlight a crisp white uniform that offsets her from the deep crimson of the rest of the marching band, bears the responsibility of helping to lead the band when band teacher Sonny Galvan is busy assisting other students. Frank is also in charge of directing on the field and conducting the performances themselves.
Along with four and a half hours of 2nd period marching band every week, she also leads practices every Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m.. Frank arrives early to ensure that everyone is ready to go with their instruments and music.
In a typical practice, Frank and senior Daniel Tibbetts, the Senior Drum Major, conduct the band, arms circling and pointing. They critique performances, halting the action altogether or evaluating after the finish.
During football season, Frank stands aloft and warms up the band with the Star Spangled Banner, Alma Mater and Fight Song. She runs them through the pre-game march on–a parade of sound and color– and then practices a seven minute long show, during which band members must march around the field, creating arcs and curving lines, all while playing the memorized song.
Along with these group rehearsals, Frank also practices conducting and with her military baton, a silver staff with a crimson braid that is used to command the band during parades, roughly three hours each week.
Frank’s passion for band began in fifth grade with the flute and has since grown, as has her sense of community with her band members.
“We all know each other’s struggles and we all spend a lot of time together because of band. Sometimes band gets frustrating and we get frustrated with each other, but we’re always a family and we’re always there to support one another.” Frank said.
Tibbets, who also began band in the fifth grade as a clarinet player, has worked closely alongside Frank as the two command the band together.
“Working with Shadi has been very smooth. She is turning out to be an awesome junior drum major.” Tibbetts said.
Along with Friday night football games, the band also performs at the Pioneer Day Parade, the Colony Days Parade in Atascadero, where they competed and placed third, a competition in Selma, the Paso Christmas parades, as well as winter and spring concerts and festival, a concert band competition. Frank has personally participated in five parades and four competitions.
“I really like going to Selma, because we get to watch the smaller bands as well as the bigger bands who have hundreds of people on the field. We get to see bands from all over California” Frank said.
The process of selecting the Junior Drum Major can take anywhere from five days to two weeks and involves an extensive process of filling out an application, a one on one interview with Galvan, showing they know how to give and execute the commands and a conducting audition. Four or five candidates are selected from that, and the final
decision is made by Galvan and Principal Randy Nelson.
In preparation for assisting in leading the band this year, Frank attended a four day Drum Major camp at UCLA over the summer, where she learned how to call out commands and be a motivational leader.
Next year, she will take over as the Senior Drum Major and help to train her successor. While she’s not sure that band will be in her future plans, she knows she will always make music a part of her life.