May 31, 2002
Two drum majors to lead Purdue 'All-American' Marching Band
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Two drum majors, including the first woman in the band's 115-year history to return as drum major, have been selected to lead the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band for 2002-03.
Erik Brockman, a junior genetic biology major from Kokomo, Ind., and Stephanie Swierczek, a junior political science major from Aurora, Ill., will assume their posts in August during band camp.
Brockman served as drum major at Kokomo's Northwestern High School as a senior, and had long hoped to repeat the scenario at Purdue.
"This is something I've dreamed about for a long time," Brockman says. "Being in marching band is one of the coolest things I've ever done, and to get to be the head of it is one of the coolest opportunities I'll ever get."
After graduation in 2003, Brockman plans on hanging up his bearskin drum major hat and tuba to go to medical school.
In 2001 Swierczek became just the third woman in the band's history to be selected drum major. Anne Woods (1991-92) and Cathy Tuttle Russell (1993-94) each held the position for one year as seniors.
Entering her second year, Swierczek knows there's a new level of expectation.
"I'm pretty excited about it," Swierczek says. "I'm looking forward to improving on what I've done."
Swierczek says sharing the traditions and skills passed down to her through generations of drum majors is a responsibility she takes seriously.
"It's important to pass along not just the technical stuff we do, but the pride in the position and in the band," she says. "I'm looking forward to sharing everything I've learned from Shaun Jones (a 2001 drum major) with Erik."
Brockman, who at one time considered being a music major, is already well aware of the historical role he has assumed.
"From its marching style to its Block P to its special musical arrangements, the Purdue 'All-American' Marching Band is full of tradition, and people recognize that," Brockman says. "It's such a well-known organization. It's a neat experience to be part of its history and to have a chance to be remembered in the grand scheme of things."
Each spring, candidates interested in the drum major position go through an audition process that includes mace twirling, an opportunity to direct the marching band in a public setting and personal interviews. David Leppla, director of the "All-American" band, says Purdue is one of the few universities nationwide that lets the drum majors take charge of the band in the stands at football games. Consequently, leadership is emphasized throughout the selection process.
CONTACT: Kathy Matter, band public relations director, (765) 496-6785 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com