Sablan leads Kalani’s award-winning marching band

Kalani Marching Band

Kacie Huang, Profile

Many people may not know all the work that goes into the marching band. The band is organized in levels starting from people who make up the band to section leaders to drum major and finally to the director. In marching band, the two drum majors are the leaders of the band; they keep the pace and fine-tune every detail to make sure the band performs to the best of their ability.

This year, drum majors are Jonah Sablan (11) and Karen Watarida (12). 

Jonah Sablan (11) and Karen Watarida (12) are drum majors for the Kalani High School marching band this year. This is Sablan’s first year in the position and he plans to audition again next year. Photo courtesy of Sablan.

Sablan, as co-drum major, ensures that the band runs as smoothly as possible. He oversees the company by making decisions and taking guidance from the directors and alumni who volunteer to help. 

“You need to make sure everyone is working together, know when to play, when not to play, what to play,” Sablan said. “You decide songs and order from a setlist,” Sablan explained.

Drum major is a big responsibility because of the many tasks Sablan must do to make the band work together cohesively, he said. Not only that, but he holds the standard of what people in the band need to do. He sets an example through focusing on what to do, showing up early to meetings, and helping other musicians.

“I’m there first and I can’t fool around too much,” he said. “I mean, sometimes I do, but you know that’s fine. As long as everything works and is okay it’s fine to have fun.”

Sablan’s dedication and positive attitude are well-received by his peers. Levin So, a junior, has played trombone for Kalani’s marching band since his freshman year and appreciates Sablan’s leadership. 

“He’s understanding and he’s motivational and he knows his stuff,” Levin So (11) said. 

Rylie Kubota (11) agrees. He has done color guard since freshman year and really enjoyed marching band this year with Sablan as co-drum major.

“He always tries to stay positive,” Kubota said. “He’s also very friendly.” 

Sablan is able to have fun with his peers while maintaining his leadership position. He keeps up by knowing all the roles and being able to answer any and all questions his musicians may have. These responsibilities add up, but Sablan still enjoys being drum major even with the pressure to succeed.

“I like it because I get to see everyone and I get to help more people to improve,” he said. “And everyone needs to listen to each other and when 60 people are in sync it just feels good. It’s like an indescribable feeling but you know it’s right.”

Sablan has a passion for helping the band to improve and making sure that everyone is able to work together. He really likes to have a crucial part in the band because it makes him happy to know that he has an impact.

Sablan is currently auditioning to be drum major for the 2020-2021 school year.

Auditions are on April 6 and Sablan hopes to earn the drum major position for a second year with the experience he has gained this year. 

“It’s not really stressful but right now we’re just relearning basic, fine-tuning details, and learning the basics of conducting or for me,” he said. “I’m practicing the basics again.”