Dear Drum Major Candidates

We have five amazing candidates auditioning for Drum Major. I sent them the following note to let them know that WE (directors) know how hard they’ve been working. I wish we could pick them all…..

To Drum Major Candidates

Thursday, 5/4 is the day for Drum Major Selection.

We will start as quickly after school as the judging panel is able to get here. We will start with all of you in the band room and then have you individually after that — with the others waiting in the hallway until called. If the panel has a clear decision, we will announce it right away. If additional consideration is needed, it could be later tomorrow evening or Friday. We’re allowing about 10 minutes with each of you, 10 minutes with all of you together and so, should be finished by about 4:45.

I want to say a few things to all of you — and please share this with your parentals.

You have ALL put in more time getting ready for this audition than any previous DM audition I’ve been involved with.

You filled out an extensive online application answering a variety of detailed questions about you and how you would deal with specific, difficult situations.

You rated yourself in that application in areas that included honesty, integrity, confidence, personality, truthfulness, trustworthiness (with both students and staff) — and also your proficiency as a marcher, conductor, and musician.

You indicated your grade point averages (which I checked) and listed teacher references (which I’ve contacted).

You watched videos of drum major salutes and a variety of conducting styles — with the hope of encouraging you to develop your own style.

You analyzed score examples (and submitted online responses) and marked up the score of the show opener.

You submitted a self-critique of video conducting the show opener.

You practiced a variety of meter, tempo, and style – including dynamics, accents, cues, pickups, holds, cut-offs and more.

You conducted ME singing the national anthem according to your conducting…and we both survived.

You asked questions, asked for extra help, and responded to feedback I’ve shared with you along the way.

You practiced conducting in front of each other, in front of the band — and several of you individually with me.

You practiced vocal commands, using each other as a marching squad.

In at least one case, you sent me video you took at home for feedback on your conducting and salute.

As I list all those things, I think it would be fair to say that,

“Gardner really made us jump through a lot of hoops.”

…and I did so without apology or regret.

I have been critical of each of you. Perhaps I’ve been hard on you because of something you did or said, or didn’t do. Hopefully, you took all that as constructive criticism. I told you at the beginning that this was going to be like a real job interview — because it is.

It is an important job that Mr. Petek and I take very seriously.

I don’t know of any time in my 13yrs here that we have had a better field of candidates. I said at the beginning that I believed each of you could lead this band and that the band would follow you — and I stand by that.

Now, here’s the tough part.

The band is not big enough to have 5 drum majors. We MUST select one and cannot justify selecting more than two. That means some of you will NOT get the job….and with all the work and effort you put into this, that is going to be hard. It will be a huge disappointment for YOU. It will be hard to take. I am sorry that you must experience THAT — but applaud all of you for putting yourself through this. You are all going to be better because of this, even if you don’t believe so right away.


I want to remind you that on your application, I asked how you would react if you are NOT selected. If you had answered that question inappropriately, I would have removed you from the group. You all said the right things and now….I will hold you to those.

For some of you, this would be your last chance at the spot — for others, there is at least another year. From the DM stories I told you, I emphasized that from MY perspective, it would not matter what grade you are in, how long you have been here or what instrument you play. MY scoring will be based on all the criteria you had in the original info packet…and the judging panel will be instructed to do the same. You might want to review that information, the audition flow and score sheet I gave you last week.

Be ready for some tough questions and instructions. Think through what you think those might be and prepare your response as best you can. Bring and show “The Look”. Be confident. PERFORM!

To make this as open and fair as we can, we are anticipating the judging panel to include:

  • Mr. Baker
  • Mr. Court
  • Ms. Cook (Rachel)
  • Mr. Gardner
  • Mr. McElhaney
  • Mr. Petek
  • Mr. Walter

Again, you’ve worked hard and should be able to walk away from the result knowing that you prepared well and gave it your best shot.



17 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them. Also 4yrs as proprietor of, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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