Field commander provides leadership

By Brooke McAfee

Marching band members take their positions on the field and wait to be called to attention. The field commander, standing upon a podium overlooking the field, shouts “Band- Ten Hut!” Instruments come up, and the eyes of each band member are glued upon the field commander. Her hands glide through the air as she begins conducting, and as she gives them the tempo, the music and the marching commence.

For senior Sloane Lewis, who plays clarinet, most weekend in the fall are  like this. Lewis has been the field commander for three out of her four years in band. From the hot days of band camp to the state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium, she has taken a vital role in the band.

“Freshman year, when I first started marching, and I saw Katie and Abner- they were the field commanders then- I thought what they did was really cool, and they were really inspiring. I was like “Oh, I want to do that!,” so the next year I tried out, and I made it,“ said Lewis.

Being a field commander means more than learning the score and conducting; it also involves tasks such as helping students learn marching technique, aiding people with music, and giving the band pep talks before competitions. For Lewis, however, the greatest responsibility is keeping up the beat.

“Keeping tempo is a stress, between the winds, the pit, and the drumline. But there also comes a lot of responsibility. You can’t be late to practice, you have to get things ready…but really, for the most part, it is keeping the tempo,” said Lewis.

Additionally, it is necessary for Lewis take leadership. The band must listen to her as a leader, rather than just a friend. This can present some challenges.

“Sometimes it is a little difficult, because people think of me more as their peer than as a leader. That’s where the leadership comes in. I want to be their friend, but that’s when I have to take the responsibility to become more of a leader, and not to socialize.” said Lewis.

Sophomore Yuriko Tashiro, the other field commander, said Lewis has helped her develop her own skills.

“She gave me really good tips. She taught me how to conduct 3/4 time and when to cut off the music. She was really nice to me, but she gave me really good criticism, which really helped me.”

Lewis said that she believes she has made considerable progress from her first year as field commander.

“Sophomore year, when I became field commander, I was really quiet, and I was scared, because I was a sophomore taking leadership roles. I think last year I improved, because that was really when I had to take control… so I got over that fear, and I’ve led the band from there. I’ve come out of my comfort zone,” said Lewis.

Band director Harold Yankey said Lewis excels in both conducting and performing with calmness and consistency.

“She is very good with the tempos and communicating to the band. She is very steady- it is hard to shake Sloane up. She is just a very level-headed person, and brings calm to the band,” said Yankey.

Senior Chelsea Roe, who plays flute in marching band, said Lewis effectively communicates with the band, as a leader and a friend.

“During practice, she walks around and is able to tell us what we are doing wrong, and how to fix it. It doesn’t sound harsh, because she is also our friend. She also hangs out with us, during school and everything, so it doesn’t sound like she is better than us, but like she is one of us,” said Roe.

According to her mother, Karen Lewis, she became a leader before marching band with her involvement in church.

“She had some leadership roles in church, in a children’s group. She started working with the kids around seventh grade. She likes helping out with vacation bible school, sports camp, or at the nursery. She has really developed over the past several years,” she said.

Lewis expressed her hope of leaving behind an important legacy for the band.

“Hopefully, I will leave behind a fun experience and make people want to try out for field commander. I want to make it enjoyable for everyone,” she said.

Lewis said she wants to finish her last year as field commander by becoming more familiar with the band as a whole.

It’s my senior year, and I really want to make my rounds around the band. I really want to get to know everybody, and become friends with everybody,” said Lewis.

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