I’m a Tulsa Kid: Matthew Aschkenas

Broken Arrow High School Drum Major

Without a drum major leading a marching band, chaos might ensue. The percussion section might collide with the brass section leaving the woodwind section off beat and wandering aimlessly.  Thus, Broken Arrow High School Drum Major Matthew Aschkenas played a major role in the Pride of Broken Arrow’s first place finish at the 2011 Band Of America Grand National Championships. Matthew said the role of the drum major is to be the “leader of the leaders.”

Q: At what year in school did you become a drum major and were there steps to becoming a drum major?

A: I became Drum Major my junior year of high school. There are auditions including a paper on leadership, a project showing your leadership skills, and conducting pieces of music in front of the band directors. A personal interview with all of the directors is the last step.

Q: Were you a musician in the marching band before you became a drum major?

A: Yes, I played tenor saxophone my freshman year and alto saxophone my sophomore year before becoming Drum Major.

Q: What is the role of the Drum Major?

A: The role of the Drum Major is to be the leader of the leaders. To guide the band toward success and pick them back up when we don’t succeed as hoped. Also, it is to make sure that everything runs smoothly during rehearsals including set up and tear down. We are the first people to arrive and the last people to leave. We must be able to react at a moment’s notice to any sudden situation. And then of course — the conducting!

Q: Does the Drum Major uniform  get hot on those warm Oklahoma football nights?

A: The Drum Major uniform only varies in color not material from the marching uniform. Do we get hot? Absolutely! But there is so much adrenaline pumping through our veins, heat is the last thing we are thinking about.

Q: How does the discipline of marching band carry over into your academic life?

A: During the marching band season, every student’s academics are at a high level due to the discipline and organizational skills you must have for the Pride of Broken Arrow. This discipline and organization does not fade away after marching band season is over. I strive just as hard during the off-season as I do during the marching band season. I am in the top 10 percent of my class with a weighted GPA of over 4.3.

Q: What was it like when Broken Arrow won first place in the Band of America Grand Nationals in the fall?

A: Winning BOA Grand National Championships was an experience I have a hard time describing with words. The initial overflow of emotions like fulfillment, happiness, shock, amazement, and humbleness all combined made me almost speechless. When we were presented with the eagle and an invitation to the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade it started to sink in that my biggest aspiration had been achieved. I will forever be humbled by this experience. The privilege of being a part of this program of excellence has changed me forever.