Tara Brace thanks people from her past for defining her present in high school


Lindy Heiss

Tara Brace has enjoyed her time being drum major, as she has been able to make new friends within the band.

Senior Tara Brace was about to go onstage to perform for Odyssey of the Mind World Finals when she got the news that would forever alter the course of her time in high school.

She had reached the goal she had been yearning for since she first stepped foot into high school: she had finally become the drum major for FHC’s Ranger Marching Band.

“[Our OM team was] getting ready to go on stage to perform for our long term,” Tara said, “and I checked my phone and people were texting me ‘congrats’ that I had gotten [drum major], and I was like, ‘Oh, great! That’s so exciting.’ And I was with my sister and we were both really excited.”

Tara knew that she wanted to be a drum major since she was a freshman, as she watched the then drum majors—alumni Tommy Hendricks, Sukhpreet Singh, and Linus Kaechele—own the field as they confidently conducted their band. Now, three years later, thanks to them, her senior year is all the more exhilarating.

Because of her freshman-year drum majors, Tara knows that character is paramount when taking on the role of drum major.

“[When] I was a little freshman,” Tara said, “I thought they were the coolest people ever because they were so nice to me. If they were not, [I] definitely wouldn’t have gone for [drum major]. I probably wouldn’t have even stayed in band. So that’s definitely a big thing with drum majors, if they’re good, it keeps other people in band.” 

Tara first auditioned for drum major as a sophomore going into her junior year. Though she did not make it then, she did not see it as defeat, but rather a learning experience to know what to expect the next year. She believes that the first time around better prepared her for her second audition, which ended up leading to her becoming drum major.

However, Tara did not do it alone. As a sophomore, Tara got lots of help from Linus and Sukhpreet, who showed her how to conduct and build up her confidence. What she learned from them is still applied in her life currently as drum major.

“When I was auditioning, they would stay with me after school or meet up with me at my house [to practice with me],” Tara explained. “Linus [would always say], ‘You’re doing great, but I want to feel that you’re the drum major.’ That helped a lot, and I still think that all the time. So there [are] definitely things that they’ve told me that I still think of today.”

I stayed in band because I liked the people, and I liked the power of us creating the music for other people and the friendships that I made.

— Tara Brace

Now that Tara is one of two drum majors—the other being senior Ellie McDowell—she has had to make the switch from playing on the field to being the one conducting her classmates. While sometimes it can be stressful, since the way that the band plays the music relies strictly on how the drum majors conduct, Tara loves to focus more on the positive aspects.

It truly is a spectacle to watch the band from above, standing on a ladder in the middle of the field. There was one moment in particular that Tara distinctly remembers as one of her fondest memories so far during her time as drum major while watching them from that view.

“The first time that we performed the closer at a [football] game, there’s this part called the command front,” Tara explained. “It’s where everyone is facing straight towards the stadium in two lines, and it’s the most powerful part of the song. They just really play out, and it’s a very powerful part of the music. Conducting it feels great, and it’s a very prideful moment for me to look at the band and see them all marching [with] their horns up.”

Since Tara is the drum major, she is no longer confined to one section of the band. She is more able to mingle with other sections and get to better know members of the band, along with making new friends and memories. Tara would say that this is easily one of her favorite aspects of being a drum major.

Tara’s new position with the FHC Band has given her a new outlook on the band. She knows that her time with her band family is not something that she should take for granted, and she is very happy that she stuck with it all these years, thanks to the influential drum majors of her freshman year. She only hopes that band members see the same thing in the band that she does and strive to be the very best they can—and who knows, maybe they could have the role of drum major as well.

“I know I stayed in band because I liked the people, and I liked the power of us creating the music for other people and the friendships that I made,” Tara said. “I hope that [other band members] can make friendships as well. I hope that they stick with it if they like it enough because I think that the most important part of staying in something for so long is that you actually enjoy doing it, and you’re not just doing it for the sake of someone else’s benefit.”