Marching to the Beat of a (London) Drum Major

Posted by on Feb 2nd, 2012 and filed under Youth. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Photo courtesy of the Archer Family CV High School junior Marta Archer was only one of nine drum majors chosen to travel to London to participate in the 26th annual London New Year’s Parade.

CVHS junior travels to London for popular New Year’s Day parade


London’s New Year’s Day parade is considered equivalent to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, touting an approximate 10,000 performers from 20 different countries. Lining the two mile parade route are about a half million people with another 20 million watching on televisions throughout Britain.

One of those performers came from “across the pond,” from Crescenta Valley specifically.

CVHS junior Marta Archer was selected to join the parade after attending a training camp in July hosted by an organization called United Spirit Association. At the camp, she learned the skills, drills and techniques of a band drum major. Out of hundreds around the U.S., only the top 10% were invited to participate in the 26th annual event.

Just nine drum majors, all from California, were chosen to go to the parade.

“I feel honored,” Marta said. “Out of however many people who got selected, being in the top nine is a big deal. Not that many people know that much about drum majors, so to be in the spotlight of it all feels really good.”

“It’s pretty impressive,” agreed Marta’s father, Eric.

“It’s nice to have her skills and talents recognized,” added her mother, Jan.

The drum majors joined 500 cheerleaders and 400 dancers seen along the parade route that went through Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Parliament Street. The drum majors were given a set routine to learn via DVD. Marta estimates that she practiced at her house for about 20 to 30 hours then another hour and a half in London.

“The weather was nice during the week, but it rained the morning of the parade,” Eric said.

“It was sunny,” Marta said. “There were no clouds and we all thought we’re going to be okay. Our uniforms weren’t going to get all wet and we were going to be fine and we lined up for the parade and we start marching. A block in, it starts pouring rain and there’s nothing we can do.”

Marta plays five instruments – flute, tuba, tenor saxophone, baritone and the piccolo. She has been in band for three years. This is in her second year as apprentice drum major at CVHS.

“I love band and I love music and I thought my understanding of music and my musical ability, because I play so many instruments, would really help the band grow musically,” Marta said of why she became an apprentice drum major.

There are four apprentices, two assistants and only one drum major. Designations are done by audition; not everyone makes the cut.

“It requires skill and discipline and leadership skills and a good understanding of music,” said Jan.

CV student Mac Wright was also selected to go in the London New Years’ Day parade, but he chose to participate in Pasadena’s Rose Parade on New Years’ Day as a herald trumpet. CV students Weston Foote, Riley Scott, Madison Artis and Aaron Hancock also were a part of the Tournament of Roses Honor Band.

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