Percussionists take to the floor, determined to make every second count. The show nears the start, and months of practice come to a head. From the front ensemble to the battery, musicians bustle about in preparation for their performance. Among them, hefting her quad drums and leading the charge, is senior Sarah Wood. 

While Wood leads her fellow percussionists of the battery in her senior year, she started from much more humble beginnings in the earliest years of her band career. 

Wood was initially inspired to play percussion in elementary school. “From the very beginning, my sister was in the middle school band and they always did a concert with the high school at Christmas time,” she said. “The high school percussionists did this crazy little show where they broke so many drum heads and I found out later it wasn't intentional. It was just really cool. I wanted to do that." 

Starting initially with piano lessons to prepare for middle school percussion, Wood joined the ranks at the very start of sixth grade and continued on for three years. However, she didn't originally intend to continue with the marching band in high school. Still, inspired by her friends and classmates moving on to higher musical education, Wood decided to join them and move forward with music, with great results in her percussion career. 

Wood took on a leadership role in her senior year, guiding her fellow members of the battery, as well as percussion as a whole. She stepped up to take charge, beginning with the marching band season in the summer, and continued on into the winter percussion season. After her own experience joining the marching band, she wanted to make sure that her section would always be welcoming, and worked with those in her year to make it a better experience. However, she credits a lot that she learned about leadership from her time at the Naval Academy. 

Wood visited the summer seminar of the Naval Academy and observed a lot of leadership skills that she implemented in percussion. “If you can get them to motivate each other, that's what's going to stick because I won't always be around to motivate them,” Wood explained. “I'm pushing them, but they're not scared of how much I'm pushing because they're still successful, even though it hurts. So it's just finding that little middle ground.”

Despite her commitment to high school percussion, the Naval Academy itself is where Wood has placed her future plans. Having been inspired by members of the Navy in her own life, and having attended the academy's summer seminar, Wood is set on joining the Naval ranks in her future. However, she still intends to carry forth what she learned in her percussion leadership. 

“I'm following my Naval Academy path,” she said, “so I'll be spending half my summer in New Mexico and then after next year, I'll be at the Naval Academy. I might plan on playing drums at the Naval Academy and their Drum and Bugle Corps. That would be fun. We'll just see what happens.”

Despite her high school percussion career nearing its end and heading out on a different path, Wood still puts everything she has into leading her fellow musicians and encouraging others to participate as well. She encourages anyone with an interest to try it out, because the communities formed will support each other through all challenges. 

“Everybody's there to help you as long as you're willing to put forth the effort,” she added. “Come in with a good attitude and that alone will get you far.”

Story by Annika Christiansen