Love of music drives Blue Machine drum major

Published 11:57 am Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quintarries Upshaw will politely correct anyone who suggests that he likes music.

“Love music, not like music,” Upshaw said. “I love music.”

The Charles Henderson High School drum major said he has loved music as long as he can remember.

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“I guess listening to my dad try to sing and beat on the snare drum was the beginning of my love of music,” Upshaw said. “I’ve just always had a passion for music.”

When he was in fourth grade at Troy Elementary School, Upshaw played in the Orff orchestra and sang in the school choir.

“That’s when I really knew that I wanted to play music,” he said. “In sixth grade, I started playing the clarinet and that was very exciting for me.”

Upshaw chose the clarinet because of its mellow sound and because of the many emotions that can be expressed with the woodwind instrument.

However, Upshaw wanted to play other instruments. So, he learned to play the tuba, flute, contrabass clarinet, baritone, bassoon and all percussion instruments.

“But the clarinet is still my favorite,” he said, with a smile.

As much as he enjoyed playing with the CHHS Blue Machine, there was something that he wanted to do even more. He wanted to lead the band.

“I thought that, if I could play the instruments and understand the music, I could help teach,” he said. “So, I wanted to be the drum major.”

Competition for drum major was stiff and Upshaw pledged to do his best. Auditions were held before a panel of band directors and all candidates were strong. When the announcement came, Upshaw was the 2008-09 CHHS drum major. He experienced the height of happiness and gratefully accepted the great responsibility.

Already he has learned what many only learn in their mature years.

“You can’t please everyone,” Upshaw said. “I’ve really learned that. But I tell the band members that you’ll get your chance. It’s just not now.”

Upshaw’s duties as drum major are to control the band and keep the members motivated and hyped.

“And, we must always strive for excellence,” he said. “I’m having a good time and I think the members respond well to what I say and do.”

Upshaw strives to be a good role model for the band members and to try to live up to the example set by those he holds in high esteem.

“Ms. Kathy Lightfoot is one of my role models,” he said. “She can play the piano like wow! And Ray Smith over at Troy University. He’s the kind of leader that I want to be. And, of course, Mrs. Ford.”

Upshaw is a senior at CHHS and his plans are to attend Troy University and major in music education.

“I want to be a band director,” he said. “But first, I want to be a member of the Sound of the South Marching Band. I’m going to try my hardest to make it.”

Amanda Ford, CHHS band director, said Upshaw is filling the role as Mr. Boss.

“Quintarries is a gifted musician, a diligent student and an outstanding role model,” she said. “The band members respect him and, therefore, he is an effective drum major. He does a good job and we are fortunate to have him and we appreciate him.”