Meet Bee Sanderson, PHS Marching Band’s drum major


Page High School’s marching band began practicing July 25, meeting every morning on the high school practice field to work through maneuvers and iron out their rhythm and routine.

The marching band is being led by Bee Sanderson, who is serving as drum major for the second year in a row. Bee is a senior this year. She was born and raised in Page. She’s the daughter of Bryon and Cindy Sanderson.

Selecting Sanderson as the drum major was an easy choice, said Alex Moore, who teaches band at Page Middle School and helps with the marching band.

“She has a high level of commitment to it,” said Moore. “She’s very dependable, and she stands out in a way we like to see in student leaders. She leads through a way that’s different than drum majors I’ve seen before. She leads without having to yell or become boisterous, and that’s a great asset. That reduces a lot of tension among the other band members and helps them stay focused.”

Moore has taught Sanderson since eighth grade.

“To see how she’s grown over the last five years is remarkable,” said Moore. “She used to be very introverted and in her shell. I think marching band has allowed her to emerge as a leader.”

This is Sanderson’s seventh year in band, her third year in marching band. In regular band she plays the trumpet.

“I chose the trumpet because it’s really flashy and stands out,” she said. “I always wanted to be the leader, and the trumpet seemed like the instrument a leader would play.”

As the drum major, Sanderson is the on-field leader of the band. In a lot of ways, she has as much influence as the teachers. She gets a say in what happens. During a performance, she is the one who starts and stops the music.

“It’s a little hard to get used to,” she said. “All of a sudden you’re first in command.”

During the early days of practice and rehearsal, Sanderson stands a little away from the rest of the marching band and taps the gock block, a loud, hand-held percussion instrument. 

“It’s basically a big metronome that’s loud enough for everyone on the field to hear,” Sanderson explained. 

Striking the gock block, Sanderson keeps the band in synch, moving together. The band listens to her while watching the teachers who give them hand and vocal directions. The two working together allows the marching band to more efficiently work out their choreography and field blocking.

After the band has learned the choreography, Sanderson will move to the head of the field and conduct the band using her hands during performances.

The ideal drum major’s influence extends beyond the field, and that’s something Sanderson strives for in her role as drum major.

“In a lot of ways, I’m a second mother to the band members,” she said. “They can come to me for whatever problems they may have, whether its technical support, emotional support, school problems or grades, I’ll always be there for them.”

When Sanderson was in the marching band as one of its trumpet players, she looked up to Antonia Muskcat, who was the drum major.

“She was basically my role model,” said Sanderson. “I hope I can be like that for the lower classmen. She was just so great. She knew what she was going to say ahead of time. She was very powerful with her words, and she had an authority that came from experience. She had a very positive influence on the rest of us.”

For Sanderson, marching band becomes like a second family. 

“Even all the new freshmen we met just last Monday, we’re already really close to them after a week together,” Sanderson said. “We want to make sure nobody feels left out.”

Once school begins, the marching band calendar gets very busy. They have a competition every other week from early September to late November.

“Traveling to the competitions is one the greatest highlights of Sanderson’s school year. I’m looking forward to the competitions and getting to meet drum majors from all over Arizona,” she said.

“Competitions is one of the best places to make new friends. There are all of these like-minded people in the same place and we’re all very eager to meet each other. Every year in marching band I’ve tried to meet as many new people as I can. I still talk to people I met my freshman year.”

The theme for Arizona’s marching band this year is Exploring the Wonders of the World. The Color Guard will dress up like explorers and Sanderson will dress up like a park ranger.

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