Ava Seccuro staff writer
His overarching high school goal was fulfilled at the opening of an envelope.
As junior Alvin “Joshua” Serrano’s name rolled off the tongue of this year’s current drum major, Julie Park, Serrano “couldn’t stop shaking” during the auspicious announcement of the 2019-2020 head drum major at the spring band concert.
“It took me a couple of hours to actually realize, ‘Wait, I won,’” Serrano said. “This is really big deal for me because I have wanted this since my freshman year.”
Serrano was tested on myriad of skills such as conducting, marching, baton spinning and even oration through a tedious process lasting several weeks prior to his selection. While most students spent their spring recesses travelling or relaxing, Serrano, among the 11 other drum major candidates, put time, sweat and energy into sharpening his expertise and candidacy in preparation for his drum major audition. Shortly after Serrano found success and was voted as head drum major by his fellow bandmates, candidates junior Ethan Gorin and sophomore Maryann Han were chosen as assistant drum majors alongside him.
What set Serrano apart from his peers upon his selection was his unwavering ebullience and passion for band. Han, well aware of Serrano’s undeniable commitment to the program, claims that it’s one of the most important qualities that a drum major could possibly possess.
“Usually the drum major is someone who’s been in the band for a while and they’re really passionate about the band. They love the band, and Josh definitely fits that part of the quality,” Han said. “He’s super invested in the band; he shows up to all the away games, all the basketball games. He’s in jazz band, so…he cares.”
During Serrano’s big moment, instrumental music teacher Bill Bradbury noticed the palpable anticipation in the room.
“Obviously there’s an atmosphere of expectation, and upperclassmen have gone through this [for] multiple years, so they know what it’s like. They may, depending upon their relationship with the different candidates, they might be rooting for someone, and I’m sure the candidates themselves are kind of like, ‘Wow,’” Bradbury said. “It’s always fun; the outgoing drum major usually opens the envelope and makes the announcement. So it’s fun…[Serrano] was very excited. I was very excited for him and the audience was very responsive.”
Aside from his enthusiasm, another aspect that gave Serrano an edge against the competition, according to him, was that considering the fact that he had pined after this position since his freshman year, he began training long before his date with destiny.
“I started earlier than everyone else. I just did it for fun [my sophomore year]. I learned how to [conduct], and then whenever I listen to music, I would just practice conducting, so, that’s how I got those skills,” Serrano said. “In the middle of first semester I started bringing home a military [baton], and I would just practice and watch YouTube videos and try to replicate that. That’s how I got a headstart over everyone on spinning.”
Although Serrano already had leadership experience as a section leader in the saxophone section and could add that to his resume, he admits that competing with his friends for his hard-earned spot was difficult, because each of them possessed advantageous qualities.
“Ethan [Gorin] was my biggest threat because he was like the most popular candidate and I think he was like the second runner up. And Maryann Han, which is the other [assistant drum major], she was already a past drum major, so she has experience, and a lot of people vote for [that] too. I had to make myself stand out by my spinning, which is what I stood out on I think,” Serrano said.
Serrano also has much to thank from Han, who used her valuable experience as an assistant drum major to walk him through the process and give him pointers.
“Since I got elected last year, I got to go to this camp over the summer, and throughout the course of the year, I got to learn some [new skills]. And then when we started holding our drum major clinics to train new drum majors, I always helped him out. From what I learned in that year, I was able to help him out more and sometimes we just got together as friends and we practiced together,” Han said. “I’m really happy for him because I know he’s going to do a great job and I know he has wanted this.”
In regards to the future, Serrano is excited to continue to feel the euphoria evoked by his passion for band, and is also looking forward to contributing to the program in more meaningful ways.
“I love band. It’s probably my favorite part of high school and marching band especially is my favorite part of the band season. I actually have a lot of fun playing and I want to contribute more on a whole new level. Playing marching music itself, especially in a huge crowd for a football game where it’s like all hype, I just feel really happy and I just feel great. It’s pretty hard to explain,” Serrano said. “I don’t want to say something cheesy, but they’re like my second family basically. Being drum major, I’ll be able to help the whole band and I think that will help me.”