Monday, November 20, 2017 Elyria 39°


At annual concert, Elyria High School Pioneer Marching Band passes drum major baton


ELYRIA — It’s time for a new twirler to dip, twist and wow crowds at football games when the Elyria High School Pioneer Marching Band takes to the field.

In what is a very well-known yearly tradition that takes place at the annual Marching Band Community Appreciation Concert on the Friday night before Memorial Day, the torch — actually it was a baton — was passed to incoming drum major Tyler Rutherford. The ceremonial passing of the baton from this year’s drum major Alex Leighton to Tyler signifies the start of the 16-year-old’s band leadership.

But Tyler, who is in the JROTC program, is not your typical drum major, said band director John Shepka.

“He is maybe a little quieter than our other drum majors, but he twirls real well and is very methodical about his craft,” Shepka said.

Tyler may speak with a soft voice when he is among friends, but when he grabs the baton and gives it a whirl over his head, he said he knows exactly what he has to do.

“It really is a misconception that all we do is twirl a baton and walk,” he said. “To be drum major, you have to have a lot of leadership skills. You have to lead the band, and if you don’t have those skills, it will not work out in your favor.”

Tyler, who plays the trumpet, has been in band since fifth grade. He joined the renowned Elyria marching band his sophomore year.

Now that he is the new band leader, he will not get to play the instrument he loves much anymore, but he is looking forward to his new role as band leader.

“I’ll miss it a little bit because of the people that play trumpet are really good people, but I won’t have to memorize music anymore,” he said with a smile. “I’m really excited knowing all the new people and returning people. I think next year is going to be a great year for the band.”

But before students can enjoy a few weeks off and the rigors of band camp this summer, they played for more than two hours in a free concert to show their gratitude for all of the community support received over the year.

“It’s definitely quite a song list,” Shepka said. “I don’t think the seniors held anything back. They wanted to play it all for the people.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or

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