Zachary is working toward a career in music education
Inspired by music teachers past and present, Zachary Crissman is pursuing a career in music education and hopes to inspire others in the same way.
Music education majors at East Carolina University must choose a performance instrument and that was an easy decision for Crissman, now a senior. He chose the trumpet after a conversation years ago with his band director.
Although music has been in his life since childhood, he didn’t like his previous instruments: the piano and violin. On his search for something new, he tried the trumpet.
“It was actually the sound made on the mouthpiece, like a buzzing bee, (that) grabbed my attention,” he said.
After graduation Crissman wants to work at his alma mater, Hickory High School, with the school band. Crissman said his high school band teacher is the reason he wants to teach high school and “is the inspiration behind it all.”
In preparation for his future in teaching, Crissman gets to practice his leadership skills during the summer when he travels across the nation with a drum corps of more than 100 other musicians.
“I think as an educator, one of the main things is that you have to teach to the individual,” said Crissman. Professors such as Britt Theurer, the most enthusiastic teacher Crissman said he has had, serves as an example for the educator he hopes to become.
“He’s always looking for new ways to help his students learn and achieve the way they need to; even if it sacrifices his own time,” he said of the trumpet professor.
For the past six summers, Crissman has blended his love of music with leadership and service through his participation in the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps, a group for young musicians. He has served as drum major for the last two years.
The drum major is a leadership position held within the group who serves as the liaison between the staff members and the musicians. “You’re the connection point as far as communication goes,” said Crissman.
This year he will serve with the group as a staff member and teach the participants visual marching. “It’s stressful, but I like it a lot.”
The drum corps is considered a world class corps through Drum Corps International. A world class corps performs at more than 35 venues during the summer, has up to 150 members and consists of primarily college-age students with some high school students. During the summer, the group also competes against other corps in different locations around the country. Crissman often performs at ECU events as well, including the 2013 Fall Commencement.
What does being a drum major entail?
You are the connection, as far as communication goes, between the band administration, the staff that instructs the members and then the members themselves. When we are on the road, you let the members know when and where they need to be there for rehearsals and performances. It’s just really making sure that things go smoothly.
What is it like to be in a drum and bugle corps?
We meet in Indianapolis for rehearsals and we have a few members from Japan and a few from England. We meet for one week and then have three days to rehearse and bring new members into the group. We meet in Indiana and we starting moving towards Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, that’s where we start really putting the show together. We work continuously for 14 hours a day for about three weeks straight.
Why did you choose ECU?
For me it’s more of the music program than anything else, and ECU was just the right distance from home. I can go home if I need to and my parents can come here if they need to, but they won’t be knocking on my door. Also the trumpet player here, Dr. Britt Theurer, is the most enthusiastic teacher I’ve had. He’s always looking for new ways to help his students learn and achieve the way they need to, even if it sacrifices his own time.
Do you feel ECU prepared you for your future?
I think if you go into a course with an open mind and ready to learn what the professor has for you, you’ll come out changed and with a wider perspective of the world. That’s kind of where I am with my music courses. My mind has been opened up to all of these different ideas, especially in education.
Why do you want to be a trumpet professor?
I think because of the influence my professor has had on me — not only as a musician but as a human being —that if you have the ability to do it and it could have a positive impact on other peoples lives, you owe it society; like paying it forward. And it would be fun.
Written by: Jamitress Bowden
Photography by: Cliff Hollis
"I think if you go into a course with an open mind and ready to learn what the professor has for you, you’ll come out changed and with a wider perspective of the world. That’s kind of where I am with my music courses. My mind has been opened up to all of these different ideas; especially in education."
- Zachary Crissman