Beyer's drum major commands respect

"Band, atten-HUT!"

Members of the Beyer High School Marching Band and Color Guard repeatedly hear these words on practice day and immediately snap to attention as soon as the last syllable is pronounced. The command comes from the top of a platform in front of the practice field from Erica Engel.

As Beyer's drum major, Erica must keep the band in time when it's marching, and when it's not, focused and ready to perform. It's no easy job, according to Erica.

"To be the drum major, you need confidence in yourself," she said. "After all, how can you lead the band if it doesn't have confidence in you?"

Erica enjoys being Beyer's drum major because of "the people in it, because all of the band kids are willing to work hard and get along."

On the other hand, some band kids have compliments about her, too. According to junior Amanda Deigan, "She is doing an amazing job, and is almost always easy to read when she conducts."

Travis Hair, a senior, says, "I feel Erica is doing a great job. From all the drum majors I've seen in recent years, I feel she is just as incredible."

Freshman Jacinda Boudreaux says she "appreciates all the advice and extra time she spends with me and with anyone else who asks."

Clearly, Erica has won the respect of the band with her willingness to help others

and also with her commanding presence on the field.

Gary P. Gilroy, former Beyer band director and current director of bands at California State University, Fresno, said there are several things a drum major must have to be successful at that position.

"The first is an unending dedication and enthusiasm for the band. He or she must also be extremely energetic, athletic and charismatic," he said. "(A) drum major should get along well with people, and understand the drumline very well, in order to keep tempo during performances."

Being the drum major is certainly a change from Erica's previous job in the band: playing the flute.

When asked if she missed playing with the band, Erica said, "Yes, I definitely miss marching, but being drum major is another step for me in my leadership role and is an opportunity for me to grow personally."

This goes along with Erica's reason to become drum major in the first place: "I was flute section leader last year and felt ready to expand my role as a leader to a higher level."

For those who want to become a drum major, Erica advises "don't hesitate, do everything the way that benefits all, and don't focus on having authority, instead, help others."

Check out the Beyer band and color guard, as well as units from Modesto, Downey, Patterson, Ceres, Davis, Enochs and Los Banos high schools, at the Modesto Invitational competition Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. at Johansen High School, 641 Norseman Drive. Admission is $12 adults, $6 students.