Moving | University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Application Essay

From the first day, one thing became painfully obvious–if I didn’t get moving, I would get run over. It started off easy; I made sure to travel in the right direction. The tempo was slow. It was a cinch to fix a mistake without being noticed or running into another marcher. Eight steps forward, eight steps back. Stay in line with the people in front of me. Simple. But then the tempo sped up, everyone started moving in different directions from different places on the field, a crowd was cheering from the stands, I had to play music from memory, I was eighteen inches taller because of that huge, sparkly plume on top of my hat, and if I made a wrong move, I could have a trombone slide hitting the back of my head.

As a marcher on the field, I was responsible for only myself. If I knew my spot in the show, I had succeeded. It was easy to give myself a pat on the back and call it a day–I’d done my job, right? Yes, but there’s a perspective beyond that. I may have been moving, all of my own accord and on the right pathway, but I had no sense of the effect my movements had on the people around me or how they contributed to the marching show as a whole. That was the drum major’s job, not mine.

But now I am the drum major and that is my…

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