Civil engineering senior to lead Longhorn Band

Senior John Brady fell in love with music in the sixth grade when he picked up the clarinet for the first time. For the next six years it was a harmonious relationship as Brady mastered the saxophone and the clarinet, which led to all-state honors and the coveted drum major position of his 300-member high school band. After graduation he wondered if he could continue his musical studies in college or if he'd have to sacrifice it to pursue an academic love of his - engineering.

Luckily, Brady didn't have to make that agonizing choice. Here at the university, he managed to skillfully combine both loves of music and academics. Talk about a guy who has it all!

Brady, a civil engineering senior, will become the new drum major of the Longhorn Band this fall, leading a cadre of 380 members in front of nearly 100,000 live, screaming, demanding football fans, and millions more watching the nationally-ranked Longhorn football team on television. His position as the lead musician for one of the most storied marching bands in the nation was hard-won. Three strong candidates competed in front of 100 of their Longhorn Band colleagues to demonstrate proficiency in conducting, teaching, speaking and coordinating marching movement on the field.

Longhorn Band Director Robert Carnochan says Brady stood out for his confidence, musical stature, proven marching abilities and, most importantly, respect among current band members.

"Brady has proven to be a very talented musician, and his leadership qualities make him an excellent drum major," says Carnochan.

Brady's biggest responsibility involves preparing prospective Longhorn Band members for auditions in August. Throughout the summer he visits major cities within the state to hold marching clinics which introduce potential members to the Longhorn Band marching style which includes the modern "roll step" and the traditional "taps stride" used when playing Texas Fight.

In August, an estimated 200 freshman will compete for spots on the field with current Longhorn Band members during "Band Week." There, Brady is in charge of teaching freshmen and returning band members the precise marching drills required for auditions. Upon completion of the tryouts, Brady's responsibilities change to conducting game-day rehearsals, pep rallies and leading the Longhorn Band into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for on-field performances.

The Longhorn Band is rich with widely-recognized traditions, including ringing cowbells at football games and escorting Big Bertha, one of the largest bass drums in the world, onto the field. As drum major, Brady will take part in another tradition: wearing the drum major's belt buckle which is passed on to the new drum major at the annual spring banquet. Engraved on the back of the buckle are the names of past Longhorn Band drum majors dating back to 1969.

Not long after taking up the clarinet in junior high, Brady went on to become drum major at Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas, becoming the highest ranking student leader of the school's largest organization. Simultaneously, he earned the state's highest award for instrumentalists when the Texas Music Educators Association selected him as an All-state musician for his performance on the bass clarinet.

"I have always had a great passion for music thanks to the fantastic band directors who I have had throughout my life," says Brady. "I owe all of my successes, inside and outside of music, to them."

For his first three years in the Longhorn Band, he marched playing the saxophone during the fall football season, and played a variety of clarinets in the university's Wind Symphony during the spring.

Despite his passion for music, Brady chose to pursue civil engineering.

"I could have chosen to be a performance major or a music teacher but those never really appealed to me," says Brady.

Brady hopes to work in transportation engineering after graduation in 2009, finding the sociological aspect of the field appealing.

"All the branches of civil engineering revolve around meeting people's needs and engineering a high standard of living, but transportation seems to be the most dynamic field," he explains. "The fact that transportation engineers design to satisfy present and future needs is what drew me in."

As a civil engineer, Brady remains in good company among band members. Engineering students represent the largest percentage (one-fourth) of the entire marching band, with nearly 95 students pursuing some type of engineering major. Carnochan affirms most college bands have a similarly high proportion of engineering members.

Besides the band's demand for strong intellect and love of music, Brady believes the laid-back feel to the band attracts many engineers.

"Longhorn Band offers a really high-quality, low-stress environment," says Brady. "I think that appeals to busy engineering majors, who know they can come in, do something they love -- and are already very good at -- and not have obligations outside of rehearsals and game day."

On August 30 Brady is set to march into DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium for what is sure to be among his greatest accomplishments to date.

"That first march will probably be awesome," he says. "I'll be nervous out of my mind, but I know I'll pull through and it will all be fine."