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Day, Schumacher leading UA Band as drum majors

MADISON – Building on experience from Madison, Matt Day and John Schumacher are leading as drum majors of University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band.

Founded in 1912, the Million Dollar Band is UA’s largest student organization.

In his second year as UA drum major, Matt started in Madison as “a nervous kid in sixth-grade honor band (with) a teacher’s willingness to take a chance with me. I’m the person I am today because of people, experiences and life-lessons music has delivered to my feet.”

Matt feels honored to “follow in the leaders’ footsteps who have inspired me,” including Johnny Nash and Stuart Tankesley, Discovery Middle School; Leigh Thomas and Doyle Thornton, Bob Jones; and Dr. Kenneth Ozzello and Randall Coleman, UA.

At Bob Jones, Matt participated in District Honor Bands. As a UA sophomore, he was section leader for 60 trumpets.

Matt welcomed inherent responsibilities as drum major but admitted “walking the walk” is difficult. “It requires grit and diligence to stick it out. How can I ask 399 people to run through something if I haven’t done my job? It takes 110 percent from everybody.”

Matt is anticipating returning to College Station to play Texas A&M University. “People were incredibly friendly. The atmosphere was absolutely electric … everything you could ever want in college football,” Matt said.

Matt’s double major includes Management Information Systems and accounting. He wants to work while earning an MBA or a master’s degree in cybersecurity and then attend law school.

Matt’s parents, Gregory and Janice Day, “are two of the most selfless, hardworking people I’ve ever looked up to.”

Also a trumpet player, John advanced to UA section leader last year. With 30 fellow auditionees, John believes his personable demeanor and communication helped him seize the job.

Drum majors make a huge impact by guiding many students. To John, a drum major is role model, encourager and motivator. “We’re all students. Everyone needs a little help making friends, feeling welcome and comfortable,” he said.

John acknowledged Madison directors Leigh Thomas (“It doesn’t take a title to be a leader”); Kevin Smart; and especially Nash, who instilled integrity and hard work. At UA, Jordan Matthews and Ozzello influenced John.

For 2019, John is anticipating the Iron Bowl at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium and a win by Bama after their 2018 loss. “It’s special to see the two teams and bands duke it out,” John said.

John, a junior, is majoring in mechanical engineering. “I’d love to travel and ultimately have a job that lets me see the world.”

“The Million Dollar Band has given me all of my friends and priceless memories. Giving back to this organization means everything to me,” John said.

John’s parents are Daniel and Julie Schumacher.

Coincidentally, Julie also was drum major at UA, serving 1988-1990.

Julie recalls the 1990 Sugar Bowl in the Superdome with their gospel half-time show. “As a senior and my last show, I cried while conducting ‘Amazing Grace.’ Cameras caught it on the jumbotron; the crowd went crazy. We got a standing ovation,” she said.

“Being drum major broadened my opportunity to meet more people and get out of my comfort zone — good preparation for my post-college career,” Julie said.

Julie is excited for John also to feel the stadium’s electricity at a UA game. “There’s nothing like being on the field with 100,000 screaming fans while the band plays ‘Yea, Alabama,'” Julie said. “The experience is almost indescribable; we’ll always share this bond.”

Other 2019-2020 UA drum majors are Katie Bunker and Bethany Patterson.

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