Finding ‘direction:’ student pursues dreams, named to elite corps

All eyes are focused on one person standing tall and proud on the podium. Everyone is still and silent, waiting for the show to begin. He raises his arms and positions his hands, setting the tempo for the performance. The music fills the field as the musicians play and march in sync. The drum major moves his hands in fluid motion, immersing himself in the sweet melodic sound of the band.

On the surface, some may think senior Denzel Brown is only another drum major, but in reality he could be the next maestro.

After moving here from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, Denzel wasn’t always interested in music, but his love for it has grown over the past few years.

“I’ve been interested in music for just a couple of years now,” Denzel said. “I wanted to be an orthodontist since the 7th grade, but music took over my life during the second semester of my junior year. Moving here definitely broadened my horizon. It made me more optimistic and open to what music had to offer.”

New Orleans has deep musical roots, and Denzel’s mother Charlese Brown said he’s always had an interest in music, even as an infant, and believes he would have gone down that path no matter where they lived.

“He would have chosen music because that’s what his gift is,” Brown said. “In our family, it’s always been about finding your gift and working and growing into that, so I think that’s what he’s doing. He’s got a lot more growing and discovering to do, but now he’s discovered what his purpose is in life. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Senior Molly Wise said that it’s evident how devoted Denzel is as a musician.

“He’s constantly listening to music and working on it and immersing himself in music,” Wise said. “He listens to shows and classical pieces by different composers. It’s stuff he’s going to need later on in his music education.”

Assistant band director Marie Debellis believes that Denzel will go far in his music career.

“He’s a musician, and that’s all there is to it,” Debellis said. “You can tell he loves every aspect of music, when he’s conducting, listening, playing or performing. I think he will be fulfilled in his life through music.”

Band director Robert Towell said that band has helped him build his abilities as not only a musician, but also as a leader.

“I think it’s given him the opportunity to work with a group and collaborate with other people,” Towell said. “As a leader, I think he’s one of the best. I don’t think that he asks people to do things that he’s not willing to do himself. To me, that’s the most important thing about being a leader.”

Along with helping Denzel build his character, band has also helped him make many incredible achievements, like becoming drum major of an intense drum corps band, the Madison Scouts, at such a young age.

“I was really shocked at first because I’m so young and the other two drum majors that made it were nineteen and twenty years old,” Denzel said. “They were both more experienced before becoming part of the core, and I was a lot more intimidated. When the director told me I made it, I was speechless, shocked and happy overall. It was a great feeling.”

Denzel says he hopes to gain a lot more than musical experience after being a part of the Madison Scouts.

“I hope to gain friendships and connections, and I’m pretty sure that after I age out, they’re going to call me for a job to work with the Madison Scouts, so that’s going to be great,” Denzel said. “I look to build my character, become a better person, a stronger leader, and a stronger conducter because that’s what I ultimately want to do in life.”

Becoming a drum major for the Madison Scouts at a young age is a huge achievement for Denzel, and Wise said he certainly deserved the position.

“He’s been an amazing conducter and everyone’s told him that,” Wise said. “Every away game we went to, someone else’s director commented on how good he was, and we all know he’s really good. He’s serious about it and he’s a great leader, so I wasn’t surprised that he made it and I’m glad he did. It’ll be a good fit for him.”

As far as his devotion for music goes, Denzel says he doesn’t want to keep his love for it to himself.

“Music means a lot to me, to say the least,” Denzel said. “It has made me the person I am today. It’s something I look for when I need an escape or when I’m feeling great. Music puts me into a very optimistic state of mind and it’s been good to me. I’d love to give back to kids who are growing up, so when I become a band director, I can give them the same experience I’ve had and help keep music alive.”