‘The chemistry within our band is incredible’: Fairview’s Gracen McCowan talks upcoming band season

Fairview’s Gracen McCowan. (Courtesy of Gracen McCowan)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. — Fairview senior drum major Gracen McCowan will be going into her sixth and final year as a member of the Aggie band and in this interview, she shared some of her favorite experiences she’s made during that time.

“It’s been such an incredible experience, being able to meet all of these people who you’re going to be growing up with during your high school years. You could have absolutely nothing in common with these people, but the one thing that will always bring us together is our love for music. It’s really just incredible to see. Things just feel very fluid, and the genuine care and admiration we have for each other is beautiful. There are a ton of things you learn in band. You learn the art of music, of course, and how working with talented individuals can really make ‘the band’. You also learn tons about leadership, and of course, collaborative skills. Being able to work with one another is a very helpful thing that I believe the band helps very much with.” McCowan said.

Gracen has soaked up as much as she can from band director Nathan Kilgo.

“He really is easily one of the most influential people in my life. He’s very passionate about what he does, and he is incredible at it. He’s the one who sparked my interest in and got me into music in the first place. He’s definitely one of my biggest role models,” she said. “He has definitely been the one who has taught me to become more confident, and to not doubt myself. He’s taught me how to be a strong leader, and to enjoy the little things as well. He’s taught me the wonders of music and how incredible it truly is; he is the reason I want to pursue music once I graduate.”

Gracen also learned a lot from last year’s seniors as well and they helped her become the leader that she is today. She was the assistant drum major last year and that experience helped her greatly as she goes into her first year as the drum major.

“The seniors last year were the people who I had actually grown up with. They greatly inspired me, because there were only three of them – which might seem small, but the large impact they left on the band is incredible. They gave me the boost of confidence that I needed to pursue being drum major and section leader for this year,” she said. “It was definitely nerve-wrecking, not even going to lie, and I’m still a little bit shy. Being out there, though, and helping our beloved drum major last year really helped clear up any fears that I had. Being out there and being able to get a hands-on experience before actually being drum major, really gave me that last push that I needed.”

She added,

“That experience taught me how to be a leader and how to deal with the knowing fact that all eyes are on me those Friday nights. It was a real eye-opener that I can’t wait to experience again one last time. I haven’t done much as drum major yet, but I have been prepared physically. During the summer, I have been practicing like crazy. I am constantly conducting and working on proper mannerisms to prepare myself.”

Gracen talked about what she will continue to work on to get ready for this upcoming band season and the goals.

“I’m definitely working on keeping a good workout on my arms, because I know from experience, they get tired real easily, especially when conducting,” she said. “My current and biggest individual goal is to try and get over some of the nerves I have about being in front of all of those people, and being the one the band is watching for the entirety of our show. As for band goals, I’m just going to try and set the best example that I possibly can for the band and anyone else who wants to be drum major in their high school career.”

Gracen has drastically seen a big-time improvement in her performance during her time in the band and she thinks this band will have a very special season.

“With all of the incredible influences I’ve had throughout my years, I’m happy to say that I have grown a ton. I remember my first section leader in the seventh grade. He had always told me how much he believed in me and never failed to give me that extra push. Watching myself grow from this shy, little 12-year-old to the literal drum major is such a surreal feeling,” she said. “The chemistry within our band is incredible. Everyone within the band are such talented musicians who never fail to blow me away whenever they play. I feel like since we have always been a much smaller band, we’ve always had one another’s back, no matter what, and it really is such a beautiful thing to see.”

Gracen talked about a couple of role models that she looks up to and one of her former friends gave her some great advice.

“Some of my biggest role models are definitely our band director, Mr. Kilgo, and assistant director, Mrs. Harris. They’ve been the biggest help during my high school band career so far,” she said. “The best piece of advice I have gotten was told to me by one of my former friends, who has now graduated. They always told me to never let the little things get to me.”

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