Blue Band Drum Major Jimmy Frisbie Flips Into His Second Season
by Sean Schoch and Elissa Hill
As the legend goes, Penn State football will always win if the Blue Band’s drum major lands his or her signature front flip during the pre-game routine. Though Penn State hasn’t gone undefeated since 1994, the drum major almost always lands the flip these days. After all, he spent more than a year perfecting it.
Blue Band Drum Major Jimmy Frisbie started playing piano at age five and trumpet in middle school. In high school, he became the drum major of his marching band in Waynesboro, Virginia. Even as an out-of-state student, Frisbie always hoped to join the Blue Band to continue his family’s legacy in the organization.
“My parents met in the Blue Band, and my grandfather was president of the Blue Band back in 1960,” Frisbie said.
Following in their footsteps, Frisbie auditioned for the Blue Band before his freshman year, playing the trumpet, and (as you can probably guess) was accepted.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that Jimmy is a phenomenal trumpet player,” Blue Band President Doug Uhaize said. “It’s almost sad to see him leave the trumpet section.”
Although he was originally honored just to join the Blue Band, Frisbie soon discovered his interest in being drum major and started practicing his front flips.
“It took me 6 months to land on my feet,” he said, “and then I worked on it for another year to perfect it for the audition.”
Frisbie’s hard work certainly paid off when he was named drum major for the 2015-2016 season and was able to showcase his mastery of the flip at the first home football game.
“My mouth was so dry. I was so nervous for that first flip, but once I landed it, it was such a relief,” Frisbie said. “Performing in front of 100,000 fans — it was definitely an exciting time.”
Besides the signature front flip and conducting the Blue Band during football games, the drum major also has behind-the-scenes responsibilities like teaching prospective members how to march, running rehearsals, and representing the Blue Band at special events.
“He interacts with so many people in the band everyday and leads us through the fundamental training,” Uhazie said.
Despite his significant commitments to one of the most recognizable college bands in the country, Frisbie also somehow finds the time to be a Schreyer Honor Scholar studying Immunology and Infectious Diseases. This football season, he’s working on medical school interviews in addition to his drum major responsibilities and finishing up his honors thesis work.
“My sophomore year, I helped start a music therapy club on campus. I was the founding treasurer,” Frisbie said. “During the spring when I don’t have Blue Band, a lot of times I get involved with another band on campus such as the Symphonic Band or the Jazz Band.”
At the end of the day, it’s the opportunity to consistently serve and improve the Blue Band that excites Frisbie most about his position as drum major.
“To be able to give back to an organization where music is such an integral part of people’s lives has been a really rewarding experience,” Frisbie said.