Student Spotlight: Hawkeye Marching Band Selects New Drum Major

Christian Frankl has wanted to be a Big 10 drum major for as long as he can remember, and this spring his dream came true. While studying abroad in Scotland, Frankl spent time on the grassy hills of Edinburgh practicing his mass routines in preparation for returning to Iowa City and auditioning for the desired position.


Christian Frankl is currently studying abroad in Scotland, but not for long — he returns in June to lead the Hawkeye Marching Band in his most coveted position: drum major.

With a junior double major in political science and music, Frankl spent the last semester living and attending classes in Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the Iowa Regents Semester Abroad program.

He joined HMB his second year and plays alto saxophone. Frankl knew taking this trip was something he wanted to do in college, but he also knew he wanted to audition for drum major.

“I knew it was going to be a little difficult during the spring semester, but I spoke to Dr. Bush during the season and asked if that would be a possibility,” Frankl said. “He said it would be if I could come back to Iowa City for the spring audition.”

Fortunately for Frankl, he had a break from classes the week of the auditions, which allowed him to return home and complete the two-part audition process.

To begin the trial, he was to have an interview with Hawkeye’s Marching Band Manager, Dr. Eric Bush, and then be interviewed by a panel of HMB staff members. Over the next few days, major drum candidates participate in learning the traditions of the role such as the end of the day‘s play, the salute and the mass throw, while taking part in a teaching game to show off their skills in as future leaders.

As soon as the audition process was over, Frankl had to return to Scotland to continue his political science course. If he were to be selected for the position of drum major, he knew he would get a call from Dr. Bush.

The next morning, just after going through security at the airport to fly back to Scotland, his phone rang. At the time, however, Frankl was helping a man who was having trouble finding his door, leaving all of his belongings, including his phone, on a bench.

Related: Student Spotlight: First Man of the UI Dance Crew

“I went back to my phone, and I picked it up and it said I missed a call from Dr. Bush, and I just freaked out,” Frankl said. “I think people at the airport were a bit confused as to what was going on. It was very cool.”

Frankl was the drum major at his high school and he also auditioned for the drum major of the Hawkeye Marching Band last year. Making the cut for his senior year completes his dream, Frankl said.

His favorite thing about the group of 270 members is meeting all the amazing people who attend.

“It’s a big group of people and you meet a lot of people from different disciplines with a lot of different interests,” Frankl said. “We all come together because one, we love the music, and two, we love supporting the Hawkeyes.”

With summer fast approaching, this allows Frankl to prepare and look forward to the upcoming semester. Teaching and mentoring the group’s first-year students is a task he is eager to begin.

Ultimately, however, Frankl said leading the band onto Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium in front of 70,000 Hawkeye fans on the first game day this fall was the embodiment of his enthusiasm.

“Kinnick Stadium has the best fans in the country,” Frankl said. “Hawkeye fans love the band and we really appreciate their support. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

Evelyn C. Tobin