Marist High School has been known, in part, for its band for decades. The high stepping, the field formations, the trips from coast to coast, and of course, its amazing sound. That kind of success is the product of hard work, discipline, and leadership. This year’s senior drum major, Gavin Donnelly, has helped keep the tradition alive.
Gavin started his music career in fourth grade at St. Christina, where he picked up the clarinet. Though band was only one day a week, he knew it was something he wanted to stick with, and the band program was a deciding factor in choosing Marist. He continued to thrive in the well-known program.
At the end of his sophomore year, Gavin applied to be drum major during his junior year. The process includes some self-reflection on why someone wants the position, a conducting lesson, and multiple interviews with the band director, Andrew Creagh ’04. Gavin was selected and served alongside Connor Mish ’15. This year he is partnered with junior Lizzy Travnik.
“During my freshman year I was watching the drum majors and thought it was cool,” explained Gavin. “I liked the opportunity to conduct instead of playing an instrument on the field. I thought it would be neat, especially the chance to lead at parades.” Gavin says the Thanksgiving Day parade and leading the band through the school halls for special events are among his favorite aspects of being drum major. The biggest challenge, he says, is having to discipline friends, as drum majors are expected to help keep the more than 100 members at attention.
His effort hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Gavin has a very strong work ethic and is a skilled musician. The marching band is successful this year in large part due to his success as a drum major and leader,” explained Mr. Creagh.
As for the misconceptions about band, Gavin says it is not like what is seen in movies. “Band members aren’t anti-social. In fact, Marist band members represent all academic levels, many sports, and lots of clubs.”
During his four years in the band, he has gone to Disney World, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., and New York City on band trips. The group heads to New Orleans this spring. “The trips really help build the family feel of band,” Gavin explained. “In the band room it’s all business, so when we go away, it’s a lot of fun and you get to learn things about people, even things you didn’t know about your close friends.” Gavin says the group also enjoys seeing the fun side of Mr. Creagh on the trips.
This fall, the band extended its field season due to the football team’s great playoff run. Gavin says the musicians love playing at the games. They play before the game, during halftime, and the drumline plays after the game. The music during the games adds a lot of spirit to the atmosphere. Coach Dunne has often credited the band with helping the team get energized.
As for next year, Gavin is looking at University of Dayton, Butler University, St. Louis University, and Marquette University. He says he would join a college marching band, but only if he could be drum major-a tough gig to get as a freshman. He says he would be open to joining a student orchestra.
Gavin will perform with his bandmates in this weekend’s band Christmas concerts. They will be held on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm in the main gym. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door.