A Little Friendly Competition

Drum major Larscheidt challenges Tillman for first chair

By Megan Landvatter, Current Staff

Leah Duckert-Kroll, in her 17 years working with the West Bend High Schools Band program, cannot remember having two drum majors who play the same instrument.

Drum majors Chloe Larscheidt and Caleb Tillman, both seniors at West High, play the b-flat clarinet in the WBHS Wind Ensemble. Both want to be first chair, causing plenty of friendly jeering between them and a challenge that was set for Tuesday.

“We definitely do banter a lot and sometimes both of us do go a little overboard,” Tillman said.

Members of the West Bend Marching Band are divided into either the Symphonic Band or the Wind Ensemble, with the latter being the higher band. This is done based on auditions done with either Duckert-Kroll or Corey Murphy, the two band directors, where chair order is also decided.

Out of Wind Ensemble’s six chairs for clarinet, Tillman made first chair while Larscheidt placed third. This allows Larscheidt to directly challenge Tillman for his spot as first chair, forcing both of them to prepare.

“I really wanna keep this first chair and I know Chloe is going to challenge me,” Tillman said. “It’s really pushing me to practice more and do a lot better.”

Both Tillman and Larscheidt have made Wind Ensemble all three years and have never once been a part of a challenge, in which both participants play the same piece of music and whoever does better gets the higher chair. However, as both are drum majors, the pressure to be the best has started a friendly banter between the two.

Drum majors Caleb Tillman and Chloe Larscheidt march in the Oct. 4 homecoming parade. Photo courtesy of Diana Clementi.

“I felt more pressure since I’m a drum major to do a lot better in the audition,” Tillman said. “I feel like if you’re a drum major then you need to make it into Wind Ensemble.”

The point of these challenges is to make the students even better musicians for the band program. Duckert-Kroll and Murphy explain this at the start of the band’s concert season.

It naturally encourages both parties to practice more, which will make them both better musicians, regardless of the challenge outcome,” Duckert-Kroll said. “And, of course, better musicians equal a better band.”

This work effort that the band directors strive to instill in their students has definitely been seen in Larscheidt and Tillman in their struggle for first chair and more difficult music.

“You get a lot of solos and it’s usually more challenging music which is something I like to shoot for,” Larscheidt said. “We’re all sort of working to push each other further.”

Even stopping to acknowledge how the competitiveness is improving the band did not stop Larscheidt from initiating a challenge.

“Now I definitely need to get first chair,” Larscheidt said.

(Top image: Drum majors Chloe Larscheidt, Ian Janssen and Caleb Tillman perform Oct. 29 at the Indoor Marching Band Concert. Photo courtesy of Diana Clementi.)

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