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Deona Julary: UNICEF Youth Fellow and Macy’s Great American Marching Band Drum Major!

Teach the Future extends congratulations to Deona Julary who marched this year in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as the Drum Major for Macy’s Great American Marching Band. Deona is a Hinsdale Illinois High School student as well as an FPS Coach and Evaluator. Deona is North America's UNICEF Youth Foresight Fellow. Deona served as a Youth Intern at Teach The Future a couple of years ago and helped mobilize the Young Voices Network.

For those not familiar with marching bands, the Drum Major carries a big responsibility for the entire team. It is a key role that is a significant honor in itself. In the United States, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual televised event dating back to 1924. The parade was first televised on a local New York City station in 1939. In 1948, CBS broadcast the parade nationally for the first time. NBC has aired the parade every year since 1953. In other words, this parade is almost as American as apple pie! The Hinsdale High School marching Band performed “Cheeseburger In Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.

Most band members are selected based on audition tapes from a very large pool of American high school students. However, the drum majors only, they are only selected based on their performance at a drum major camp called Smith Walbridge Clinics. There are over 600 high school drum majors that attend this camp over the summer. You can learn more at:

According to Fandom: “The Macy's Great American Marching Band is a marching band created uniquely for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since its debut, the band has become a time-honored tradition that brings together the finest musicians from high schools nationwide, complemented by approximately 30 flags and nine dancers. The performers submit audition tapes before the Parade and are individually selected by members of Macy's Branded Entertainment. The band is hosted and coordinated by the staff of Music Festivals and Tours of Reading, Pennsylvania.” 

Here are a few of Deona’s observations and experiences on participating in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2023:

What Deona Worked On:

• Teaching all 219 members how to have a uniform & precise marching technique

• Honing in on every musician’s musicality and articulations

• Staging and showmanship

• Mace technique

• Drum major salute

Deona’s Marching Band Takeaways:

• Give a good performance so you don’t have any regrets when it’s over.

• Early is on time, on time is later, and late is unacceptable.

• Watch the director or drum major. If your cutoff is more than one measure late, then you are wasting time.

• If you’re not good, they’ll put you in the back of the drill.

• The learning is done in the hard and trying times, not the easy times.

• There’s a difference between a marcato and an accent. Play it!

• The band had four days to look like the other ten marching bands, who had been practicing for a year. Use the time you have to the fullest.

• The more you hustle, the more reps you get in.

• Visuals are just as important as sound. Many people don’t know the ins and outs of marching band, so if you perform the drill with spirit and confidence, then you know you have succeeded in giving a convincing performance (ex. white socks & snares).

Teach the Future delights in sharing the many successes of team members and those, like Deona, who have been mentored through our futures thinking programs. We look forward to the next chapter, Deona!


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