The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
For my Michigan vs. Michigan State interview series, I talked to the incredibly inspiring Samantha Barringer, a Junior at Michigan State University who majors in Music Education with flute as her primary instrument. She is the sixth female drum major of the Spartan Marching Band and has held this title since the 2020 season. As you read her words, you will feel ready to work towards that long-term goal you’ve been putting off.
When did you know you wanted to be the drum major of SMB?
“It was 2014 to be specific. I think I was in seventh grade. I went to a game with my friend and I watched the band. Dr. David Thornton always says “you’re going to change someone’s life tonight,” and it so changed my life. I just remember going home and I would watch the pregame over and over again and just go “wow, this is so cool, like this is SO COOL.” I knew I wanted to be in that band. I wanted to do whatever it takes to be in leadership so I can inspire other people, and I was going off of that because being in marching band or just being in an ensemble (I wasn’t in marching band until my junior year of high school) makes you feel inspired by your leaders; I wanted to do that for other people so they’re like “wow, I want to do band for the rest of my life.” Being the drum major is inspiring people and making them want to love band. For the people who are in it, I want to be the person to make people go “wow, she makes me want to be the best that I can be for this marching band.”
Evan Bahm and Shannon Black were the drum majors at the time and they are awesome. And now they’re my friends! I talk to them often and I think that’s great! I used to look up to them as this little kid and now I’m like ‘Oh hey Shannon! How’s your Tuesday?’ It’s just crazy.”
Can you walk us through what a game day at MSU is like for the drum major?
“Yeah! So I do my game day hair before I go to rehearsal. Depending on the time, I’ll get there about a half-hour to forty-five minutes early. Make sure I have all parts of my uniform. I go outside and I stretch and make sure we have a speaker and a metronome and make sure everyone’s got what they need. I check to see if there’s any last-minute problems with the section leaders or our uniform team that I need to take care of.
I blow the whistle two minutes before rehearsal and then we do the fight song and mainly play in concert arcs plus running the halftime show. We do pregame so I have to make sure my plans are good for that, make sure my whistle’s fine.
We break and I have a little bit of time to go see my family at their tailgate and put some food in my stomach before I have to go back and run a few bandograms and gigs before our Adam’s Field performance.
At Adam’s Field, I usually go to the side and do a few backbends, walk around, and say hi to people.
After our Adam’s Field performance I wrap everyone up and we do Series. We do the fight song and it all, yay, then we go to the stadium.
In the stadium, I go on the field with the twirlers, do a few more backbends, feel the wind and the grass, see if it’s windy or wet, and see if there’s anything to worry about. We do pregame, sit in the stands, hang out, half-time show, sit in the stands, hang out, and then at the end, we do a post-game show, and there I’m a friend to the band, I don’t really do much, I watch everyone, and I’m just very proud. In my head I go “we just did so good!”
We line everyone up and we march back and that’s a game day!”
What do you do to wind down once a game day is complete?
“I call my mom, I take a shower, sometimes I’ll play a few notes on the piano or listen to jazz music just to get some calming music in. Also, eat food!”
What advice would you give to any woman out there who wants to be in your position one day?
“Don’t take no for an answer. There’s a great quote that I looked at so much when auditioning to be drum major: ‘There’s someone out there holding their breath watching you, hoping that you’re going to fail. Make them suffocate knowing you’re going to be successful.’ I just thought that was super empowering. There’s always going to be people out there who aren’t going to like what you’re doing and you’re just going to be like ‘I’m gonna do my own thing and you can either do your own thing or sit here and watch me do my own thing and be mad about it.’ Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. You know what you’ve got to do and obviously, it takes hard work but if you put in the work and have a great mindset and you’re doing it for you, you’ve got it.”
What do you like to do outside of band?
“I like to play my flute, I love to cook, and I really like to venture out, go outside, and venture out with my boyfriend. We really like exploring. I love playing with my bunny at home, oh my gosh.”
What is your biggest goal in life?
“To inspire someone. Not even just in marching band or musically. I just would love to get my students to love music. I remember when it clicked for me, and it changed my life. Obviously! I go to school for music now, but back then I never would’ve thought I’d be doing this. I thought I would be a doctor and follow my mom’s footsteps, but here we are! I want my students to feel like ‘wow, music is actually so great and it has changed my life for the better.’
I’d like to go on with teaching people. It could be elementary, high school, middle school, or even if I went back and did my DMA or got my masters in Music Theory and inspired people that way. Taking music theory, yes it sucked, but there were so many moments where I went ‘wow this is so cool that we can break this down and get this kind of answer,’ so, now I’m inclined to maybe take it a step further and get a masters in music theory. I just want to inspire the students musically.”