By: Brad Welborn
As any coach in America can tell you, the thing they hope to have on their team every year is experience and leadership. Qualities only gained from players being invested in the program and its success.
While the Northwestern State football team is ripe with both, fielding 23 seniors for the 2019 season, the same can be said for the Northwestern State band, the “Spirit of Northwestern.”
The SON return three drum majors with multiple years under their belts in the position. Fifth-year seniors Hope Spaw (Bossier City), Michael King (Deville) and Brandon Brumbelow (Kerens, Texas) will once again serve as the pseudo, faces, of the music for NSU.
The three NSU drum majors not only share the title as leaders of the band, but very similar beginnings to their musical lives.
Middle school was the beginning for all three, each getting their start on the instruments they still play today, or as much as they can between directing over 300 members of the SON.
It was a family piano that drew both King and Brumbelow into the music world at an early age before making their transitions to trombone and French horn respectively. Spaw started her journey on the violin before landing with a flute in her hands.
It wasn’t long after choosing their instruments did the dream of a life in music become their primary objective. The opportunities provided them by Northwestern State during the past four plus years have accelerated their preparedness for life after college.
In a few days’ time, the Spirit of Northwestern will have yet another opportunity to showcase itself on one of the biggest stages in college football – Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
Just one year after a memorable trip to Texas A&M and Kyle Field, especially for Brumbelow, a Texas native and long-time Aggie fan, the SON will make their presence known on the LSU campus September 14.
Spaw and King will have slightly different perspectives on playing at Death Valley than Brumbelow did at A&M.
“I’m not much of a fan of theirs,” King said. “I do enjoy watching the games, and grew up watching football, but my family are big fans, so I hear enough of it from them.
“I’ve always thought it would be cool to be able to perform on that field just to be able to hear the ginormous crowd roaring around you. And just to be able to share the field with the other band too will be a pretty amazing experience.”
Spaw echoed those sentiments.
“I personally am not an LSU fan, but I’ve still always wanted to perform in Tiger Stadium and Death Valley,” she said. “I’m excited to just be able to experience the gameday in Tiger Stadium and hear the Tiger Band because they’re really good.”
As an out-of-state student at NSU, Brumbelow has an entirely different idea on the potential the band has in front of them that night.
“NSU is a really great school but it just seems to be overshadowed in name by LSU,” he said. “That’s unfortunate because a lot of people from outside the state don’t hear about NSU. The only reason I did was because my directors came here.
“People that are looking for a great education may be hesitant to come here because they don’t hear about it. It’s going to be great to be able to go down there and show them what’s really up here and what not a lot of people are talking about, which they should be.”
On that night in Tiger Stadium, and throughout the rest of the season in the home stands at Turpin Stadium, the drum majors will have plenty of sound at tip of their fingers with the largest band in school history.
The addition of approximately 30 new members has swollen the ranks to a record setting 342. The new school record created only minor challenges in formation for on-field performances but adds to the band’s overall sound.
Having been drum majors for multiple years, Spaw, King, and Brumbelow can’t help but feel a sense of pride knowing the part they played in making the band what it is today.
“It’s been really cool to watch the band morph and grow in the past four years,” Spaw said. “There’ve been a lot of changes since my freshman year, but they’ve been good changes. So, it’s been neat to watch that and know that the people that came in with us have all played a part in the growth.”
“It’s not just us it’s also our leadership team that came in with us as well,” King added. “All of us took the reins and ran with it to try and make the band grow and change into what we want it. In years past we’ve had conversations about things we can do differently and now we’re to the point we can make those changes.”
Regardless of whether it is their first year or fifth year in the band, these three drum majors relish the role they have and the opportunity to teach and serve those members. A role that is directly preparing them for their futures after SON, but something they will not soon forget.
“Just getting the opportunity to teach and sort of get real-life experience that is preparing me for life after this,” King said. “But the biggest thing is probably the family I’ve been able to create while I’ve been here. All these guys, even though we’re in band together, outside of the band, I can still say hey and connect like if we were brothers.”
“I’m passionate about servant leadership,” Spaw said. “In high school and my first few years of college I had people that I really looked up to who were leaders. Getting to do that and be that now and hopefully inspiring other people to do the same has been my favorite thing about being here.”
All three have plans to continue to work in music after their graduation, that include some form of musical education at the middle or high school levels initially, and potential pursuit of master’s degrees.
Drum majors for the 2019 Spirit of Northwestern marching band are, from left, Michael King of Deville, Hope Spaw of Bossier City and Brandon Brumbelow of Kerens, Texas.