By Dave Pearce
Life is full of choices. Generally speaking, our measure of success in life is based on our choices.
After having played the trombone for seven years, Mount Vernon High School band member and drum major Andrew Higgins is quietly confident in his abilities. Playing music is about having the opportunity to display his creative side.
But when the opportunity came to try out for the Ball State University Music for All Summer Symposium, with encouragement from parents Brian and Beth, he decided to give it a try. Although Higgins was confident in his ability to have a spot in the band, he knew going in that all he could do was try his hardest and it would be up to someone else as to whether or not he had the position.
News came that he had made the band and then, just a little later, it was his mother who had seen they were having drum major tryouts. Admitting he’s a little nervous, he went to the Summer Symposium and with his experience as the Mount Vernon High School drum major, Higgins said he was speechless when he was the first musician selected to be a drum major in the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl Parade.
Out of about 350 students, 18-year-old Higgins was the only one chosen at the Ball State University Music for All Summer Symposium to perform as a drum major for the Rose Bowl Honor Band in Pasadena, Calif. After an interview and audition process, Higgins was chosen for the position by George Parks Drum Major Academy staff and instructors.
“The audition process was pretty hard for drum major and when they called my name … I was speechless,” he said. “I almost felt like crying, but I was so happy and excited that I’d get to perform with some of the greatest musicians in America that are my age.”
Higgins is the drum major for the Mount Vernon Senior High School Marching Band. Band director Cory Mullins said Higgins may not be the first band student from Mount Vernon to perform in the parade, but he is part of a small list and most likely the first to be selected as drum major.
“It is always very rewarding to see one of your students excel and have the honor to be apart of such prestigious opportunities,” Mullins said.
And although Higgins is appreciative of the help that Mullins has given him, he indicates that his real ambition came from long-time Mount Vernon band director Scott Dallas.
Higgins said he wants to emulate Dallas and wants to attend Ball State University and participate in the marching band during his freshman year. He will possibility consider giving the drum major a second look at the end of his first year. Eventually, he wants to graduate and become a band director.
But the 3.8 honors student at Mount Vernon believes that the school’s fine arts program is a big reason for his success.
“Mount Vernon High School is a great place to attend school and fosters your desires to succeed in the fine arts area,” Higgins said.
Choosing to be involved primarily in band has not been automatic, Higgins has enjoyed a degree of success on the Mount Vernon High School golf team. But faced with a decision to choose one over the other, he indicated that he would take the trombone, although there are similarities between the two.
“You have to work to get better in either of them,” Higgins said. “But I can make a career out of the trombone. I’m not so sure about the golf.”
His father Brian sings and plays the acoustic guitar while his mother was a long-time musician at Welborn United Methodist Church in rural Mount Vernon. The family now attends Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville where, according to Higgins, “the music is fantastic.”
During the week of June 23, more than 1,500 students gathered on the campus of Ball State University for the summer symposium, presented by Yamaha. Only four drum majors from across the United States were chosen to lead the more than 300 member national honor band at the New Year’s Day parade.
The 5.5-mile parade stepped off at 10 a.m. CST on Jan. 1 and was broadcast on ABC, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA (Tribune), NBC, RFD-TV and Univision. The parade along Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard lasts about two hours.
Experiencing this event will be a memory Higgins will never forget, Mullins said.
“The Rose Bowl Parade is a very historical and memorable parade to the entire country,” he said. “Much like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, many bands and musicians would love to have the opportunity to be apart of the Rose Bowl Parade.”
This will be Higgins’ first time in California. Despite most of his time being devoted to rehearsing and preparing for the
parade, he said his family plans to take a trip to Disneyland, something he is looking forward to experiencing, when it is over.
Higgins is a member of the Wolfgang Orchestra and studies privately with Melanie Edling Music Studio. He also plays the trombone, baritone and tuba, and plans to pursue a career in music at Ball State University.
“It’s something that I’ve been good at since I began playing eight years ago, and I’ve absolutely loved it since then,” Higgins said. “Just being able to play the music … it’s just been a great experience for me.”
By Dave Pearce
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