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The leader of the band

Ryan Miner wins top drum major award

Ryan Miner wins top drum major award

November 13, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - His arms move like a ballerina dances.

He raises the high notes from a scale marked by a fixed brow, while behind it the passion of a composer, conductor and professor matures in the rafters.

Ryan Miner, 16, is not an ordinary drum major - he's the best.

The Williamsport High School senior and drum major for the Williamsport High School Blue Band has received best-in-division drum major honors in the seven Tournament of Bands competitions that offered the honor this year.

At the Maryland State Band Championships Oct. 25, Miner was named top drum major in Division III, which consisted of bands with between 50 and 80 members. Nine bands competed in the division at the state competition.

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"It was a huge honor that all the hard work put into it really paid off," Miner said.

He is the only drum major for the band, which is uncommon, said Betty Sue Kitchen, the school's band director.

"He takes care of it all. He can't miss a rehearsal or a competition," Kitchen said. Miner was allowed to miss a parade to take the SATs.

In the past, co-majors have helped alleviate some of the pressures associated with taking charge of the band.

"He's worked very hard, not only to be director, but to get out of the band what needs to be done musically," Kitchen said.

Miner takes his position very seriously.

He said he enjoys being able to help fellow band members to better their talents by answering questions they ask of him.

Music is nothing new to Miner. He's been taking private lessons for the alto saxophone since fourth grade and now takes lessons from Scott Paddock, a professional jazz musician in Baltimore.

"I think I was given a gift through music and I can really express myself through that," he said.

Miner plans to pursue a career in music education and composition. Eventually, he wants to earn a doctoral degree in professional conducting, which he'll use to teach music at a major college or university.

He said he'd like to have a minor in criminology because he's always dreamed of being an FBI or CIA agent.

For now, he'll continue to try his best to get his and his band's performance up to its peak potential.

"It's one of the best feelings anyone can experience with leadership and the amount of time you put into it," he said.

He's improved his personal score by two points over a two-month period, and the band is keeping up with him, he said.

"The band has improved more than I have," he said.

The band is waiting to see if it will get an invitation to the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championships, which are scheduled for later this month in Scranton, Pa.

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