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Dublin High School Irish Guard Drum Major Davis Zamboanga Leads with Faith and Inspiration

August 21, 2015

Davis_2Like in any sporting endeavor, it is traditional to elect a Captain, or one that will lead the squad both physically and mentally. For those unfamiliar with high school band programs, it is no different. For the second consecutive year and now as a Dublin High School Senior, this honor will reside with Mr. Davis Zamboanga. While initially a transplant from Rocklin, CA, he and his family arrived in Dublin and he enrolled at Wells Middle School. He already had the benefit of musical experience with the violin, but eventually transitioned to the trombone. As the oldest of three children, he helped his family to matriculate successfully in the DUSD system.

But before exploring his story, it is imperative to understand Davis – the person. He was willing to volunteer some of the most important elements of his life and we are pleased to share them. Dar Luz: He calls his Grandfather “Dar” and his Grandmother’s name is Luz. In English, this means “to give light.” In music and in life, every single note and action should give light – the result of overflowing emotion from the soul. He also clings to the Finnish word “Sisu” which translates to courage and resolve. Mr. Zamboanga also provided a biblical phrase – “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5). He believes in humility over pride, gentleness over harshness, patience over frustration and love over irritation.

Now, within this context, we can partially absorb Davis’ journey from Rocklin to Dublin and now in the vital seat of Drum Major of the Dublin High School Irish Guard. We recently sat down with him and his mother to discuss this odyssey. You will now function as the Drum Major for the DHS Irish Guard for the second consecutive year – as a junior and now as a senior.  You expressed that “this is what I was supposed to do.”  Please expand upon what you meant to say by that.

Davis_1Davis Zamboanga
: “There are two main reasons why I believe that I am supposed to be the drum major of the Irish Guard. One, I have the musical ability and encouraging attitude necessary to lead the band to reach its greatest potential. Two, the course of my life has developed these characteristics.”

“In the 5th grade, through what I call divine intervention my violin got run over by a car which enabled me to start studying the trombone. The summer before 6th grade I started playing piano. Both of these instruments have given me a very intimate perspective on music. In addition, I have a very loving family that has always been encouraging, giving me a great attitude towards life. The combination of the two fuels my passion for music and people so, naturally, I’ve been made to be a Drum Major.” For those that are unfamiliar with the Band Camp experience, please break down what this really means for newly incoming members and for those that are returning.

DSC_1393Zamboanga: “This year we added a 3-day preliminary band camp. It’s purpose was to acclimate the new members, establish group chemistry and hone in on marching basics. Each day of the main band camp began at 8:00 with an hour of warm-ups (cardio/calisthenics/stretching) and then we moved straight into drill, the movements and forms that are made during a field show. At Noon, we all had lunch, which was personally my favorite part. After lunch we cleaned the drill we learned and then broke up to rehearse individual sections (woodwinds/brass/percussion). From 3:00 to 4:00 we all came to the band room for a full music rehearsal. Believe me, everyone was physically and mentally exhausted from each day. This is what band camp mainly consisted of but Friday is extended to include a goodbye to the seniors, senior testimonies, a performance for the students’ families and a potluck. By the end of the week we learned the drill for the field show opener and the new members were successfully integrated into the Irish Guard family.” As the Drum Major, you signify what the DHS Irish Guard is all about.  And there are younger eyes looking up to you.  How do you accept this responsibility and how do you receive this challenge?

Zamboanga: “I accept the responsibility by not only performing the duties of a drum major, but also relying on my fantastic assistant drum majors, David, Ben and Michelle, to support me and each other. The great thing about having four drum majors is that I don’t have to lead alone. Instead of just me encouraging people, there is four times the encouragement! Our passion as drum majors will be sustained by a want to make the most beautiful field show possible and the individual members of the band, we love them very much.” A year ago, DHS was receiving one of the late stages of campus improvements which included the conversion of the old band room into its new location adjacent to the new Performing Arts Center.  During this process, the Drum Major podium was either moved or lost.  However, a fundraising movement propped up in the fashion of “Push-ups for Podiums.”  Upon the successful completion of this fundraiser, how did this make you feel?

Zamboanga: “First of all, I would like to give kudos to Mrs. Utsumi, a band mom, for coming up with such a clever alliteration. It is a testament to the strength of the Irish Guard and its families to come together and raise money. We were able to raise over $3,000 just for conducting podiums! I’m very gracious that we currently have three conducting podiums that allow the front field drum majors to show more musical inflection in our conducting which help the band and Color Guard perform its best.” As you enter your senior year at DHS, tell us about your course load for 2015-16.  How will you approach the college application process and will it include a musical element?

DSC_1387Zamboanga: “This year at Dublin High School I’ll be taking a more concentrated course load which consists of AP Spanish Lang, AP Calc AB, AP Microeconomics, Civics, SciFi, Online Health, Jazz Band and Zero Period PE. With the introduction of the Gael Period as of now I am still unsure of which pathway to pursue in college, and thats okay.

“This year I am taking a more concentrated course load which consists of Jazz band, AP Spanish Lang, AP Calc AB, AP Micro/Civics, Sci Fi Lit, Zero Period PE, and Online Health. With the addition of the Gael Period and by taking Online Health, I’ll have more time during the school day to finish homework or to practice trombone. I’m still in the process of picking which college I want to go to. At the moment, my dream college is the Berklee School of Music in Boston and I want to pursue a degree in conducting, composition, music education, or the trombone.”

We felt that it would be interesting to further explore the bond between mother and son by inviting Kristie Carpenter to chime in on Davis’ development and his future aspirations. During our conversation, you mentioned the anecdote about a young Davis ditching his violin in favor or a trombone.  Please share this story.

DSC_1402Kristie Carpenter: “Davis became interested in music in the 4th grade, when the elementary school he attended offered music lessons/class. All 4th graders had to learn how to play the violin. In 5th grade, students could choose another instrument, and Davis expressed his desire to switch instruments and play the trombone. His father and I had already bought him a violin and told him he had to continue playing the violin. He didn’t want to take no for an answer, so over the next few months he was tenacious in trying to get us to change our mind.

“We held firm on our decision mostly because we wanted to teach Davis that he couldn’t talk us into changing our minds. Davis continued playing the violin. One morning I was driving him to school and the trunk of my car opened up and the violin went flying out the back onto the street. The car behind me ran it over and it was lying there in small pieces. I pulled over and started to tear up. However, Davis was smiling. As I looked up in my rear view mirror at his delight, Davis said to me, “Does this mean I can play the trombone now?” I believe it was divine intervention. Davis was meant to play the trombone and the universe wasn’t going to let his parents keep him from it.”  Functioning as the Drum Major involves many aspects – including the bonding the Percussion group and the Color Guard.  How has Davis embraced this leadership opportunity?

DSC_1399Carpenter: “I feel Davis has embraced his leadership opportunity by realizing and making the tough decision to prioritize his time by giving up another extracurricular activity he loved so much, cross country. He can function as the drum major at full capacity by doing this. He is an excellent role model and speaks positive words into people. He will often attend the color guard or percussion practices that are separate from the band to check in with them, ask questions and find out if they need any additional support. He is humble and doesn’t let the title drum major go to his head. He makes an effort to connect with the students and inspire them at all levels. I believe the band students respect him for his efforts to make the band more successful.” We discussed his options post-DHS.  In your words, they may be “something musical.”  Please expand upon this.

Carpenter: “Davis’ post-DHS plans are to go to college and focus on music as his major and with the possibility of a minor in business. At this point, he doesn’t know where he wants to go. We are looking at colleges right now and had to opportunity to visit Humboldt University and the University of Oregon this summer. We were able to look at their music programs and get an idea what they offer. Our hope is that with being the Drum Major for the past two years and his outstanding academic achievements, he will get scholarships to help pay for college.”

Finally, we looked to the present DHS Irish Guard Band Director, Paul Evert, to share his thoughts on Davis’ impact upon the entire program. His perspective truly relates the global confluence of how all of the members are related. As the primary Drum Major, what expectations/desires do you wish Davis to fulfill as a representative of the entire DHS Irish Guard?

Paul Everts: “To be the best “servant-leader” he can be.  Put into practice the leadership lessons he is being given by those adult leaders / faith that influence him.” Given your vast experience working at other schools, provide us with a contrast of what the DHS Irish Guard looks like today vs. when you first arrived on the scene – in terms of scope and ability.

Dublin High School Music Program Director Paul D. EvertsEverts: “In 2008-09 school year, we ended the year with fifty six band students – TOTAL.  We begin this year with 130 band students. That first year we had one sousaphone player; this year – four sousaphones.  As the band grows, so does responsibility. In 2008-09, there was a high level of responsibility as well. When there is one sousaphone player, he better know his music.  But, when there are four sousaphone players, the leader needs to make sure all four sousaphone players know their music. I can hear one sousaphone player perform easier than which one of the four is playing incorrect notes.

“Instead of 56-to-1 (student:drum major ratio), today it is 130-to-1. Davis is very capable of earning that level of respect.  Students like Davis and liking the leader does make the job a bit “easier.” And in return, Davis genuinely likes people.”

So, for some of the younger/newer members of the band, they will be crossing into uncharted territory. Some of this includes learning a brand new piece of music, understanding how to march in formation and the overall discipline of becoming a member of this squad. However, the leadership of the Irish Guard is in steady hands. Mr. Zamboanga will lead the group with the assistance of his assistant drum majors that include: Ben Han, Michelle Won and David Arevalo. In addition, portions of the band and color guard will embark on a trip to Dublin and Bray, Ireland in early spring where they will perform multiple times. There will be several fundraising opportunities this fall to support this endeavor and you can follow their exploits at would like to thank Davis, Kristie and Mr. Everts for their contributions to the construction of this profile. #musicmatters


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