To all the talented percussionists out there—this is for you. If you’ve been thinking about being in a band as a drum major and you want to know more about the role, you have come to the right place. We understand that you’ve been called for an interview and wish to know what to expect. Or, even if you’re just curious about the role and wish to sign up for a band in the future, this article is for you as well. Here we look at some of the possible Drum Major Interview Questions that can be asked in an interview for a role and the best possible ways to answer them.
Drum Major Interview Questions
So what is a drum major? Well, to start with, a drum major is more than just someone who plays drums in a band. The position comes with duties and responsibilities, and they require good leadership skills as well. And while one doesn’t have to be Tommy Lee to get selected as a drum major, decent skills on the drums are obviously necessary. A Drum Major is supposed to lead by example and exemplify the rest of the band’s positive attitude and high morale while motivating everyone else along the way. It is important to understand what it means to be a drum major. A drum major is not just a musician, but a marching specialist, teacher, administrator, leader, communicator, performer, and in some cases, a friend and a guide too. The band director usually interviews for this role. Even though the interview is done before the candidate is actually asked to display their skills on the drums as an audition, it is equally important for the whole selection process. So let’s check out some of the things that will be looked for in the interview:
- Tell us something about your leadership skills.
As mentioned earlier, a drum major will be expected to lead the band members in multiple roles, which is why it is of immense importance for the director to know about the candidate’s leadership skills. Ideally, the candidate should mention some instances in the past where they stepped up to a situation and responsibly handled a crisis, or about incidents where the candidate was made responsible for a group of people with some specific goals and how they successfully led that team to realize it their goals. Even simple things such as teaching and guiding a kindergarten student will convey the message to the interviewer that the candidate has it in them to take up a position of responsibility, something the interviewer would very much like to see.
- What is your worst character trait?
This question may be asked oppositely too, that is, the candidate may be asked to list some of their best character traits. However, the purpose of these questions is the same; to test the self-awareness of the candidate. Good leaders should be aware of themselves, especially their negative personality traits. Being aware of one’s positives gives one the confidence to put them to good use, but being aware of the negatives allows for improvement. The candidate should state a character trait of themselves which they think can be improved upon and then state the measures they are taking to improve themselves. A person who tries to improve themselves continuously will be a good leader.
- Why do you want to be a Drum Major?
The interviewer would like to know the candidate’s motivation behind their application for drum major. This will, in turn, help them determine whether the candidate is a good fit for their band. An ideal candidate should have some positive motivations for being in a band. A proper answer to this question should begin with how the candidate wishes to put their skills to good use by imparting technical knowledge to children and being an example for youngsters to follow. Being passionate about helping out children and caring for their future role in society is also a good answer. A candidate may include a small personal story about how a teacher motivated them during their childhood, which made them realize the importance of being a guide and friend to children, and that now they want to do the same thing by using their knowledge of the drums and teaching the younger generation. However, it is important not to overdo the story part. Nobody likes anything over the top.
- What do you like about our band?
A good candidate will have researched the band they have applied to before coming down for the interview. The interviewer wants to test the candidate’s dedication and diligence through this question by seeing if they have the general tendency to go that little extra mile to get things done right, a quality that is often required while dealing with young students. Most bands give out a good amount of details about them while publishing advertisements inviting auditions. We strongly recommend learning a few things about them from their website, if they have one, before showing up. Or, one could talk to some of the band’s current members to get a good idea about them. An ideal answer should first talk about some of the points about the band which stand out and then highlight the ones which appeal to the candidate and why.
- Can you play as well when your team is losing as when they are winning?
A good drum major should have a cool head and carry on with their job even in stressful situations. The interviewer wants to see whether the candidate would easily give up on their team when the going gets tough. Of course, the correct answer to this question would be a confident yes, but that will probably not be enough to convince a seasoned band director. The candidate would do well to outline past instances where they went on with something despite having slim chances of success. It need not be related to the drums. It could be an incident at sport as well. The interviewer needs to know that the candidate can be trusted to carry on their duties in adverse situations and will not leave the band hanging when it needs them the most.
- If we can’t make you a drum major, would you accept a position as a drum minor?
The purpose of this question is twofold. Firstly, the interviewer wants to see how versatile the candidate is. And secondly, this question will assess how well the candidate handles disappointment. Being able to function smoothly in a team and take everybody along is an essential part of being in a band, and sometimes that includes doing things that may not have been originally part of their duties. Also, a good leader should deal with disappointment and step up to the situation in a mature way. A candidate should say at this point that even though they were hoping for a position as a drum major, they’d be happy to join as a minor and work their way up quickly.
- Why do you think you are a good fit for this role?
This is the corporate equivalent of ‘Why should we hire you?’. The candidate should highlight all their relevant skills for the job while ensuring that they do not descend into unnecessary bragging. Being good on the drums, having strong leadership skills, working with a team, sharing the same broad ideas as the band, etc., are the general answers an interviewer will be looking for. Also, highlighting something about their dedication, such as wanting the role really badly, will give a good impression to the interviewer.
- How would you handle conflict between two students?
Having good people skills and communication skills is a must for a good leader. One of the uglier aspects of leading a team is dealing with internal conflict between two or more of its members. Personal conflict between the members can hamper their performance on the field, something no director wants to see. This is why a good drum major should be able to identify performers with issues and resolve them so that no one feels disgruntled. Also, this will ensure that the members look up to the drum major as a leader. Talking about sitting down with troubled members individually to help them reach a compromise is a good approach for the candidate.
- If you are already involved in other extra-curricular activities, how would you manage your time between them and the band if you are selected?
Being active in extra-curricular activities is usually a positive thing, but not when it interferes with other important stuff. The band director wants to be assured that the candidate shall be able to dedicate a good amount of time to the band for practice and guide the students. Nothing should come in the way of discharging the responsibilities that the candidate shall have towards the band. The candidate should mention how the activity they are already involved in (if they have any) has a different time slot from band practice and how they do not see it clashing with their possible responsibilities with the band. Also, assuring that they shall be able to talk it out and arrive at an amicable compromise with the teachers in charge of the other activities if the band is not compromised is a good idea.
- What can you improve about the band?
While answering this question would obviously require prior knowledge about the band and its rules and traditions, the director would also like to what extra thing the candidate can bring to the table and what their vision of an ideal band is. A candidate who has done the proper research about the band and has some ideas, however small they may be, about what they’d like to change about it, will give the impression of being diligent and a creative thinker. A candidate should highlight some specific points about the band they would like to do differently and then develop concrete alternatives to them. Bringing up examples from experience is not a bad idea, as it would let the interviewer know that the candidate knows what they are talking about and, therefore, will be an asset to the band if selected.
- How did you get into percussion?
The interviewer wants to see how seriously the candidate takes their craft. A candidate who started with an interest in music early in their life and has been consistent with their efforts will be preferred by the band. A candidate who can play a wide variety of drums, including different styles and rhythms, will also be more useful. The more experience a candidate has, the lesser time they will need to adjust to the band and its needs. Also, this would be a good time to mention what styles a candidate likes and if there are any idols that they look up to. Mentioning an interest in pursuing music as a career will also help put the candidate in the interviewer’s good books. Basically, the interviewer would like to know a little bit about how the candidate sees their craft and what their motivations are behind it.
Signing up for a band requires a lot of commitment as it involves regular practice hours, often held early in the morning. We hope you’ve got the grit for it. Also, keep in mind that there will be an audition after the interview to test your skills, and they will get into the more technical aspects of the selection process then. They could ask you anything, play staccato, or say something good about Ringo Starr. Or, they might ask you who your favorite drummer is and describe what you like about their style. We believe you will ace that part anyway if you’re already considering being a drum major. Best of luck!
Frequently Asked Questions
- If I played the drums in a rock band, should I mention that during the interview?
Any form of experience is a good thing, and you should definitely mention it while applying to be a drum major and casually bring it up at least once during the interview.
- Is it okay to have tattoos if I’m trying out to be a drum major?
Many bands tend to be very particular about appearance, and visible tattoos or piercings are not looked upon favorably. We recommend you consult with someone in the band to understand what is to be done about it. Also, always dress neatly for an interview.
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