The Kansas State Marching Band began its journey as the “Pride of Wildcat Land” in 1887 with 15 members. Today, the band has over 300 members from various parts of the United States. Led by band director Frank Tracz, the band has played at many different venues and events throughout the year; however, the Pinstripe Bowl is the most recent. This year’s drum major C.J. Longabaugh, senior in music education, led the marching band to success and more.
When Longabaugh arrived at K-State for his freshman year of college, he was in a new environment and surrounded by people he didn’t know. The feeling of unfamiliarity was quickly erased after Longabaugh’s first week of band practice.
“The first week of band was a way to build relationships with people that were interested in the same things I liked and the university,” said Longabaugh. “I enjoyed being surrounded by people who had the K-State spirit.”
Throughout the first week of band practice, Longabaugh realized he admired the leadership of the drum major and decided that was going to be his future role. The drum major is responsible for leading other band members through practices and routines.
“I admired the leadership qualities the drum major my freshman year had,” said Longabaugh. “He made me realize there is more to being drum major than just conducting the band.”
Longabaugh worked up through several different leadership roles in the band before he became drum major. Throughout his various leadership roles, Longabaugh has learned that in order to be a good leader you must be driven, prepared, care and listen to maximize leadership affects.
“You must be driven at everything you do in life,” said Longabaugh. “Good leaders are continually improving and always want to get better at everything.
Longabaugh described the importance of preparation.
“Preparation is highly important in band because the band needs to be able to know the counts for each transition,” Longabaugh said. “The band is relying on me to be able to lead them during performances.”
“Caring and listening go hand in hand when working with people,” Longabaugh said. “People know that you care about something by the way you listen and act. If you act like you care, people will care more too.”
Longabaugh incorporates all of these into his leadership and lifestyle. As he prepares to graduate in May, Longabaugh continues to learn and grow through his role as drum major.
“As the drum major I want the band to look up to me and aspire to be contributing to people in the world,” Longabaugh said. “I want them to do something for the greater good and grow as individuals.”
Drum major try-outs will be in March and selections announced in April. The “Pride of Wildcat Land” has already began preparing for next year by working on new material and thinking of more ways they could get involved in the community.