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University of Arkansas/ Fayetteville campus is simply gorgous! And over 80 high school students arrived on June 17 and took over! Some of them were vets of the program and knew their way around campus as well as if it were their own living rooms. But the majority of the Academy students were new: new to campus, new to DMA and new to the challenges and excitement of being a drum major.

Some much to learn, so many questions to ask, so many new techniques to try to master, and so many new people who soon became great friends! DMA/ Arkansas was a success almost before it even started.

As usual the march offs became a bit of the focus during the week: some to look forward to at the end of each day. Human beings and competiton–if rooted in the educational structure of the program these small competitve moments can bring out the best in ALL participants! And this year was no exception except for one tiny factor: Grace Warren.

March off #1: Grace Warren
March off #2: Grace Warren

Would Grace make a run on ALL the march offs? The question was answered soon enough:

March off #3: Josiah Rosell, Southwest Mission HS, KS

Thus endeth the potential streak. But Grace was not fazed or upset. She was gracious and supportive of her defeator- the first to congratulate and celebrate with him! THAT is what leadership is about. THAT is being a drum major. THAT screams success!

So now the stage was set. The entire group stepped EVERYTHING up THREE notches! The morning squad preparations were focused on helping each other improve their own skills but more importantly, on assisting each other in the development of individual observation and evaluation skills–developing their teaching skills!

The next thing we knew it was time for another march off and the excitement was electric.

March #4: Grace Warren – Fayetteville HS, Arkansas

It was almost expected but it wasn’t a given. She EARNED that one!

As the final day started to wind down and the students saw their parents begin to arrive all thought turned to the final session–the one that would end with a last march off for DMA/Arkansas. Everyone participated in the squad demonstration showing the audience HOW to be another set of eyes for their band directors. It is all about the details and everyone must look exactly the same for precision to be attained. The students looked fantastic–they had clearly learned the Teaching Procedure.

Next came the conducting demonstration and all students showed off their new skills–skills that will take time to develop and mature but again, it was clear that they had paid close attention to the mechanics of proper conducting.

Finally it was time. The tension was high but it was positive energy. Things moved quickly until suddenly it was all over and the winner:

Grace Warren!

Congratulations everyone—you were all WINNERS this week because you understood that being a drum major is not about the glory of being front of the band, but rather in the focus and concentration required to be a TEACHER!

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