Thanksgiving Day Parade
Issue Date: September 9, 2009
City: New York, NY
“Band, forward-march!” commands the drum major, while raising a salute to the judge’s stand. He twirls his mace and throws it high into the air – the competition has begun.
In 1650, the British Army Corps of Drums played small pieces of music to communicate duty calls and battle signals to the regiments. It was the drum major’s job to lead the band. His other duties included carrying out military lashings.
When the drum major was adopted by high school and college marching bands, the position transformed into a performance art. Salutes became more elaborate and the mace was not for beating time anymore, it was for twirling.
Conducting a marching band in the Thanksgiving Day Parade is no easy task. Drum majors must keep formation, conduct the music, and perform a salute and mace routine. All of this is done while marching through streets packed with roaring crowds, giant balloons, and television cameras.
Today, drum majors perform breathtaking routines. They twirl batons and high-step at the front of the band. It is their job to energize the bands and entertain the crowds at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The band will give everything they have until they here the drum major call, “Band, parade-rest!”