Major Responsibility

Junior Emily Fox relishes her role as Stevenson Marching Band’s drum major
Emily Fox stands under the platform shell climb so that she can direct Stevensons marching band at a football halftime show.
Emily Fox stands under the platform she’ll climb so that she can direct Stevenson’s marching band at a football halftime show.
Kalee Corraine

Standing atop the podium above the band, Emily Fox held her arms out in front of her, commanding the band for a standby. Her next moves channeled the opening sounds to the “Stevenson University Fight Song,” as she powerfully brought down her hands to launch the driving beat that reverberated through the stadium. In iconic drum major fashion, she guided the Stevenson University Marching Band into another dynamic show, leading the ensemble with characteristic passion.

As the drum major, Fox plays a crucial role in setting the tone and ensuring the precision of the Stevenson University Marching Band. This ensemble, a vibrant and integral part of Stevenson University’s musical community, has a rich history and tradition. The band’s commitment to excellence is showcased in various performances, including halftime shows during football games and other events.

Drum Major Emily Fox directs the Stevenson band at a football halftime show in 2023.

“I just kind of had to make my own way and figure things out,” Fox said about embracing the role of head drum major. “That’s what being a leader is all about — inspiring people and encouraging them to keep going.”

Drum majors are not merely a conductors; they are the heartbeat of the band, responsible for more than just musical direction. They stand on an elevated podium, often in front of the band, using signals and gestures to convey musical and performance cues. In addition to their musical responsibilities, drum majors are often seen as ambassadors for the band, embodying the spirit and energy of the ensemble.

Fox, a junior, brings a vibrant spirit to the position as the band’s first drum major since 2019. Growing up immersed in music, Fox built on humble beginnings playing the flute in fourth grade to ultimately directing the marching band just years later – equipped with communication skills perfectly suiting the responsibility.

Dr. Mark Lortz, director of music and bands, described Fox’s progression as a leader.

“Emily’s journey into leadership roles, particularly as a drum major, began with her standout talent and enthusiasm as a student.”

Fox’s musical journey found its spark in elementary school and was further fueled by her father’s enthusiasm for percussion. She joined marching band in middle school, falling in love with the synchronized spectacle. When looking at college options, stories from a former bandmate about Stevenson sealed her decision.

“I wanted a small school atmosphere that had a really good marching band. And that’s really hard to find,” Fox explained. “For this just being a hobby for people and no one really pursuing music, we have a really, really good marching band.”

Fox first performed in the band her freshman year before taking on student worker duties and then becoming equipment manager to gain leadership experience. Observing the drum major position from afar, she long envisioned assuming the role one day and prepared through advanced workshops and drum major academy.

“I took a proactive approach to foster her growth by encouraging her to shadow senior leaders,” Lortz said. “This intentional mentoring paved the way for Emily to develop the skills and confidence needed to eventually take on significant leadership responsibilities within the music department.”

Through dedication to her craft and ability to connect with peers, Fox represents the heartbeat propelling the marching band to success.

Before taking center stage at halftime shows, the Stevenson University Marching Band plays a crucial role in elevating the atmosphere at football games. Their performances during these games contribute to the overall spirit and energy, creating a dynamic environment for both players and spectators alike.

Hearing the marching play during games really adds to the atmosphere.

— Andrew Heer, football player

Stevenson football player Andrew Heer said the Marching Band is a big part of game days.

“Hearing the marching play during games really adds to the atmosphere,” Heer said. “When the band is playing during another team’s play, it really adds to the home team advantage.”

It is in these moments that Emily Fox’s leadership as the drum major becomes particularly pronounced, guiding the band to not only entertain but also to inspire and invigorate the entire game-day experience.

I fell in love with marching band early on. And so I just worked for it.

— Emily Fox

On the podium, Fox knows everything is interconnected.

“Being on the podium, especially during performances, is crucial because if I make a mistake, it impacts the entire band. I’m closely aligned with the drum line. The beats set by the drum line influence the pace of the entire band.”

As the driving force behind the band, Emily Fox stands not just as a conductor but as a symbol of unity, precision, and the unwavering spirit of the Stevenson University Marching Band.

“I kind of knew this was what I wanted to do. I fell in love with marching band early on. And so I just worked for it. Every time we are out there, it is so fun. I love getting to inspire people with what I do.”

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