Head drum major leads band, leaves legacy

Emily Cox shares musical journey

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Christi Norris

Hands raised, senior Emily Cox begins to direct the Mighty Eagle Band. Cox has been a drum major for two years, and was appointed as head drum major her senior year. “I remember cutting off the fourth and final part of the show after our first full run of the show for the 2021-2022 season, and being absolutely blown away by what I had just heard/conducted,” Cox said. “I knew at that point that that year was going to be a good one.”

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Cheers echo from the stands. Lights shine onto the field. Members of the Mighty Eagle Band march to their positions on the field for their performance. Climbing the ladder to her director’s podium, senior Emily Cox prepares to direct those that she leads.

Cox started her career in music in fourth grade, and has been in the band – playing clarinet – since middle school. In her junior year, Cox became one of the band’s drum majors, and in her senior year was appointed as the head drum major. Now, she plans to continue her musical career in the concert band program at Texas A&M University.

“Going into high school, I was super eager to get into the marching band,” Cox said. “My middle school band directors would show us the marching show the high school marching band was working on at the time, or the concert pieces they had for the spring, and it was so cool to watch them perform.”

It is undoubtedly Emily’s resilience that makes her the great drum major and leader she is today. As head drum major, Emily wonderfully brings us all together through her own persistent drive and optimism, which sparks motivation within all of us as we push forward together as a team.”

— Tiana Albino, Senior and Drum Major

Band director Brandon Holt knew Cox before coming to the high school due to his previous work with the middle school All-Region band students, while he worked at Rogers Middle School and Cox attended Reynolds Middle school.

“When I got here, Emily was a sophomore,” Holt said. “She was already a great leader for the clarinet section, that was one of the things that stood out when she auditioned for drum major two years ago. She’s always been very helpful, she’s always been the type of personality that just loves to help people, and that’s one of the things that drew us, as directors, to her – that she has the heart for the very best for everyone else.”

After beginning high school, Cox said she couldn’t get enough of music, and made the decision to continue band throughout high school. As a sophomore, she began contemplating starting a leadership role as a drum major. 

“I idolized the drum majors from years before me because of how they presented themselves,” Cox said. “They had stood with such poise and confidence, and were so friendly to everyone and knew everyone by name. They were just so cool, and I wanted to be like them.” 

One quality that the directors felt was necessary for their selection of drum major was their trustability.

“We trust her, and that’s the most important thing as a leader from our standpoint,” Holt said. “As a student leader, we have got to trust them. But, also, they have to develop other students, as well, and, in order to do that, the foundation of trust has to be there. One of her strong points is her trustability. People believe in her, and they want to follow her.”

Holt said he felt that Cox was someone they wanted to replicate throughout the band, which played a large part in selecting her as a drum major for her junior year. 

“As she went to head drum major, she did such a phenomenal job as a drum major her junior year that it was an obvious fit for everyone,” Holt said. “She had an interesting time, because there were three people returning as drum majors, and she stood out as somebody that could absolutely take that lead, take the helm and do a fantastic job.”

Cox said she felt ecstatic and very grateful for the trust the directors had in her when she was chosen as head drum major. 

“I remember cutting off the fourth and final part of the show after our first full run of the show for the 2021-2022 season, and being absolutely blown away by what I had just heard/conducted,” Cox said. “I knew at that point that that year was going to be a good one.”

Throughout the season, Cox said she faced many challenges as head drum major – from Texas heat to stress as she led the 240 members of the Mighty Eagle Band. 

“Where she shone the most, is that they followed her throughout the year,” Holt said. “She was able to get information to them, and make corrections along the way, going back to that foundation of trust. She was able to continue to lead not only her section of drum majors, and they were able to do an absolutely fantastic job in all aspects, but the whole band, as well.”

In spite of challenges, Cox said she maintained her trust with the band.

Climbing onto the podium, senior and head drum major Emily Cox prepares to lead the band. Cox has played in the marching band for all of high school. Cox will continue her education at Texas A&M University in the fall. (Christi Norris)

“It is undoubtedly Emily’s resilience that makes her the great drum major and leader she is today,” senior and drum major Tiana Albino said. “As head drum major, Emily wonderfully brings us all together through her own persistent drive and optimism, which sparks motivation within all of us as we push forward together as a team.”

Cox said as head drum major, she has loved getting to know each member of the band.

“I love how inclusive Emily is,” junior and band member Olivia Nyberg said. “ She always tries to make you feel welcomed, and has always been someone who I can go to if I need anything. Not only does she care about band and the band program, but she cares about the people in it.”

As Cox prepares to graduate, she said she advises all aspiring drum majors to have confidence in themselves. 

“The more confidence you have in what you conduct and how you present yourself,” Cox said. “It really shines through, and shows that you trust yourself, and allows others to trust you, too.”