Movin’ to the Beat

Dallastown High School drum majors share their experiences leading the marching band.
Julie Cioffi (Left), Max Scarcelli (Center), Victor Vaida (Right) do their special salute during halftime at Hershey.
Julie Cioffi (Left), Max Scarcelli (Center), Victor Vaida (Right) do their special salute during halftime at Hershey.
Sienna Seufert
Victor Vaida conducting the ballad, Cadillac of the Skies, at Dallastown’s first varsity football home game. (Sienna Seufert)

Under the fluorescent stadium lights, there are an assorted few spending their Friday night waving their arms in front of the marching band. Those are drum majors, and they are the highest titled student leader position in marching band.

Now, the phrase “drum major” sounds like they should be an actual drummer, right?

Technically, that’s true, but the term ‘drum major’ originated from a British Army in 1650, where they conducted only the percussionists. As marching became a larger matter, the drum major title stayed the same, and the marching band grew.

For Dallastown Marching Band, there are 3, their names are Victor Vaida, Julie Cioffi, and Max Scarcelli.

Max Scarcelli at attention during halftime at Hershey waiting for Cioffi and Vaida to switch. (Sienna Seufert)

Many drum majors found that they can appreciate the leadership aspect of it, like Cioffi and Vaida. Others carry on legacies, like Scarcelli.

He originally didn’t want to become a drum major, and as a freshman was strongly against the idea. But towards the end of his sophomore year, Walter Mattiko, a former drum major, had convinced him to give it a try.

“Walter told me that ‘We have to keep the saxophones in power’ and to carry on the legacy,” Scarcelli explained. 

Vaida though, was motivated by his own interests. 

“I really liked the leadership aspect of section leader and drum major was one step up,” Vaida states.

As for Cioffi, she was inspired by former graduates.

“Anna Smith and Grace Treml really inspired me to give the position a chance,” explains Cioffi.

So, what qualities do these drum majors have that set them apart from the rest of the band?

One thing that everyone, even the band director Justin Buer, agrees on is having initiative. Being able to take on responsibilities without being told to.

Drum Majors are responsible for taking command over the entirety of the marching band on the field. There are other leadership roles currently fulfilled, but if that person is missing, drum majors take charge.

When written, the responsibilities seem simple, but Scarcelli, Cioffi, and Vaida aren’t afraid to speak on the challenges of the role.

When it comes to keeping count, Scarcelli admits he can have a difficult time keeping with the tempo.

“Conducting is kind of hard sometimes and I’m not very good at counting so sometimes I lose count,” Scarcelli confesses.

Julie Cioffi conducting the third piece during the pregame show. (Sienna Seufert)

Cioffi puts the actions of the band on her shoulders, believing any mistake she feels could have been avoided with better direction needs to be fixed on her part.

“When the band messes up, since you’re in charge of them, it feels like a reflection on you,” Cioffi expresses.

Vaida believes there is better growth with progress, not perfection. Mistakes turn to practice, which in turn, creates noticeable advancements.

“You make a lot of mistakes. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to make light of it. Smile about it!… The absolute worst thing you can do is come up with an excuse,” Vaida states.

As important as it is to take initiative, being positive is a necessity.

“You need to stay positive because they’ll (the band) mirror you,” Cioffi comments.

Decision making is a must for drum majors, and although they take on that task with pride, most still have to confirm with Buer.

“While we as a staff coordinate our efforts to provide the kids the appropriate instruction they need, decision making ultimately falls on me,” Buer explains.

Buer and the marching band staff are close knit, and they all have their respective roles, but Buer oversees it all. He orders the entirety of the band on what they need to do and when. 

As a staff, Buer, Vaida, Cioffi, and Scarcelli have learned to work with commitment and composure. With Dallastown’s determination, the staff works for progress, not perfection.

Upcoming Band Performances
Halftime Shows

9/22 - @Northeastern HS

9/29 - @Central York HS

10/20 - @Spring Grove HS

Pre-Game Show

10/6 - @Dallastown vs. York High

10/13 - @Dallastown vs. Dover

10/27 - @Dallastown vs. Red Lion

Showcases & Parades

9/30 - Spring Grove Marching Spectacular

10/21 - Dover Band Show

10/26 - Dallastown Halloween Parade

10/28 - Manheim Township Showcase

10/29 - York Halloween Parade

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