Rhiannon Williams, an authentic student leader

Rhiannon Williams and the Marching Pride at the Burlington Cummings home game. Stands Tunes are performed between each play of the football game, Williams uses a mace to keep tempo. (Photo used by permission of Cindy Thornton)

Drum major may be one of the most fun student leadership roles at Leesville; leading and guiding students every day to improve. While some students meet in groups once or twice a week, Rhiannon Williams spends most of her time with the marching band. Drum major was a surprise for Williams. 

Leadership for students is often underestimated. Leadership requires critical thinking and thinking ahead– a good leader stresses more about their group than the task at hand. Student leaders are capable of handling whatever is thrown at them. A leader can be described as many things: one who provides proper training, one who influences others to improve, and one who aids in the development of new skills. 

Aiding with a proper training: 

As one of the most important leaders of the band, Williams must provide the band with the proper training that is needed to be in the marching band. Giving proper training as a leader, especially from a student’s standpoint, is a challenging feat. Experience and confidence are Williams’ goals as a leader. 

Williams must make sure sure the fundamentals of marching are always in effect. Marching remediation is important for the marching band. There are specific techniques for marching, often referred to as “rolling your feet” or “gliding.”  The upper body must stay completely still. “I’m so excited for… the rest of the marching season, and ready to see how the band continues to excel,” wrote Williams over text.

Williams helps marchers stick their mind to the “8-to-5 step,” meaning that for every 5 yards, an equal 8 steps are taken. Williams starts this fundamental at pre-band camp and puts it into action during band camp. This marching technique is used all throughout the marching season. Fundamentals are worked on at every rehearsal. If someone is tutoring or assisting someone with homework, they are a different type of leader– marching requires perfection and repetition. Williams

Influence on others to improve: 

A leader’s influence is what drives that leader’s group. Williams uses repetition as a tactic to inspire the band to continue on with the show. 

Caden Merritt, a member of the drumline and sophomore at Leesville, said: “When we’re doing rehearsal, she’s, like, taking control with it; that’s pretty cool.” Williams gives other students inspiration. It’s impressive to see peers take action in the options they’re given. 

The students are Williams’ main inspiration. “The resiliency, camaraderie, and drive to succeed is inspiring to see,” wrote Williams. During rehearsals, the band shouts back commands to show that all the attention is on Williams. “The enthusiasm and ‘Energy!’ of the ensemble during rehearsal pushes me to do my best,” noted Williams. “Being a student leader is a balancing act,” wrote Williams. 

Allowing growth: 

New skills in the band are easy to come by. Music is a fine art, and with enough skill, can be taken to new heights. Leesville’s marching band does not use props, but the show can still look good with certain movements and moods. 

Although the band performs at football games and competitions, there will always be room for improvement. Marching band isn’t just about marching and music, there are visual effects that can be added to get the audience’s attention. Every day in fourth period, the leaders of the band work on new ideas and effects to add to the show. Time and effort are important to Williams. 

The relationship between a group and its leader is key to proper growth. The band cannot grow if the relationships students have with the leader and each other are not healthy. 

Williams lives up to the expectations of a leader; students look up to her for a new desire for improvement. After a good day of endless drills and marching, students are satisfied with how much work they’ve accomplished. 


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