Drum Major Dream


Lyrah Panarigan

Mari Shimabukuro leads the marching band at the Moanalua High School Homecoming Parade. Shimabukuro is the first female drum major in over 10 years.

Kendelle Hung-Ino, Staff Writer

The following story was published on our October 2019 printed issue. 

Ever since she was little, junior Mari Shimabukuro knew she wanted to be a drum major for her school’s marching band.

Shimabukuro works with senior Jericho Macabante to be the “captains” of the marching band. Their job is to keep time for the band, by conducting the music. Their duties continue off the field too, acting as the director’s extra hands and look out for the band’s overall well-being by checking up on the section leaders and individual members.

Becoming a drum major is something Shimabukuro has dreamt of since the sixth grade. Her role model was a girl who was a drum major for Kalani High School, who later became a drum major for the University of Hawai’i. Shimabukuro’s drum major dream became a reality when she was voted in for the position at the end of last school year. Shimabukuro says, “I wanted to be just like her. Being drum major is like making a dream come true. It is a huge deal for me.”

Unlike other high schools on the island, Moanalua’s marching band has not had a female drum major in more than ten years. Drum majors have a male stigma, due to the fact that the role is physically demanding. Moanalua’s marching band students were receptive to the idea of having a female drum major and were eager to have Shimabukuro lead them.

To prepare for the marching band season, Shimabukuro and Macabante began training in May. “I went from not even being able to do twenty pushups to having to be able to do a hundred in twenty minutes,” says Shimabukuro about the workouts she is given as drum major.

Taking on this role has changed her more than just physically. Witholding a position with such leadership has given her a newfound sense of confidence. “In this role, because you are so visible everyone is watching you. You have to be confident, even if you don’t feel like it. It starts off as a fake-it-till-you-make-it, but over time it felt more natural. I felt stronger. I think that’s the most amazing part, the transformation,” Shimabukuro said.

She continued to open up about her confidence, saying, “I feel like this is the most confident I have ever been. When you know people are looking up to you, you want to be the best for them because they deserve it. Doing that really gives you a sense of purpose.”

Shimabukuro proves to be a strong leader, regardless of any possible adversity faced because of her gender. Macabante says, “She is passionate about what she does and puts a lot of thought into her actions. The fact that she’s female doesn’t make me see her any differently than I would a guy drum major. At the end of the day, she is someone I can rely on and trust with helping me to lead the band.”

Although it is uncommon to be a female in this role, especially at Moanalua, Shimabukuro is taking the responsibilities head on. She shares her opinion on the male stigma saying, “I think that gender isn’t a real problem in this. It is your strength of spirit.”

Shimabukuro’s drive only grows more and she hopes to be drum major again next year, with her words “It’s just your character and who you are trying to be and who you can be, your determination and your ability to be a good person,” Shimabukuro adds.