10 Questions With Blue Band Drum Major Carson Pedaci

Every Saturday during football season, Penn Staters recognize the Blue Band’s ritual as an integral part of the gameday experience. The organization’s famous pregame drill has remained largely unchanged and beloved since its inception.

At the helm of the Blue Band’s carefully orchestrated show is the Blue Band’s drum major and their iconic flip. This year, the Blue Band selected junior Carson Pedaci to lead the Blue Band as its next drum major, the 62nd person to do so in the organization’s history.

We sat down with Carson before the football returns to Beaver Stadium to talk about himself, the role, and what he hopes to accomplish during the year.

Onward State: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are?

Carson Pedaci: I’m a junior data science major from Hershey.

OS: How did you first get into music/marching band, and what instrument do you play?

CP: I’m a mellophone, which is just a big trumpet. 

My mother was a big proponent of band, and as soon as I picked up the French horn in 4th grade, she was insistent I joined marching band when I got to high school. My dad was also a drum major in high school, so I didn’t have a choice there. They got me into it but it was definitely my love for making music that made me stay.

OS: Why did you choose Penn State, and why did you end up choosing the Blue Band?

CP: Honestly, it was the opportunities like Blue Band that attracted me to Penn State in the first place. I figured I wasn’t going to get that range of organizations and resources that Penn State provides anywhere else. There was definitely enough to satisfy me for four years.

The Blue Band is definitely one of the more respected bands in the nation. At the time, I thought it would be a dream to make the band in the first place, much less the position I’m in now. It was a big factor in my reason to come to Penn State; I thought it was going to be one of the best marching band experiences.

OS: What made you decide to audition for the drum major role?

CP: My first inkling was during the 2019 Buffalo game, and I saw Jack Frisbie do the flip. I remember thinking to myself, “That looks like fun!” and the other half thinking, “You have to learn the flip,” but I figured I could cross that bridge when I got there.

The Blue Band has such a passionate alumni network, and there’s so much honor to the name that I really wanted to represent it in any way I could. They’ve done so much for me that I want to give back in a meaningful way however possible. I want to translate my energy into what I do to help benefit the band.

OS: What inspires you?

CP: I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of friends, both in Hershey and University Park, who have been nothing but supportive of me throughout this process. Even outside of drum major, just of life in general. I really want to live up to their expectations and make them proud.

At the same time, I’ve been told I’m one of those people that set too high of standards for myself. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without some of those expectations; I really try and see what all I can accomplish. I think I’m my worst critic but I also think that those standards also benefit me in most cases.

OS: What’s been your favorite memory in Blue Band so far?

CP: I really want to say my first game but I just remember being out of breath for the entire thing. Of course, the Rose Bowl was a monumental occasion for all Penn State fans alike, but I have to say personally, it was the New Year’s Eve before the Outback Bowl.

I remember sitting on the beach, feeling pretty introspective about what 2022 would bring. There was this haze over the beach, and in the distance, a hotel had this ominous red glow. Gradually, band members came out one by one, and we gathered together and rang in the new year as an organization. It was interesting as the fireworks were going off but the atmosphere on the beach made everything seem pretty distant. It felt like we almost had our own little thing that was separate from the rest of the world. Somewhere between the trombones singing “My Way,” I thought to myself that this is where I’m supposed to be.

OS: Are you a pregame or halftime show person? Which is your favorite and why?

CP: I respect the pregame tradition but I have to say halftime. Not only do I really enjoy the type of music that we put on the field, but the halftime shows are what delineate each year from each other.

We’re always going to have the pregame tradition, but halftime is what separates — it’s almost like the soundtrack to that year.

OS: How is the flip coming along?

CP: It’s going pretty well. It was an interesting adjustment going from my audition, which was three flips with a minute in between, to the style during the show, which is two flips with 10 seconds in between. So really, just a means of cardio. The next step after that will be making sure I get the flip well on the first try without any warmup. I’d say it’s good right now but I’m looking forward to using the summer to make it great.

OS: One of the Blue Band’s values is for members to “build on the legacy.” What are you hoping to leave behind in this role?

CP: I want to give a sense of approachability to every member of the band. At the same time, I want to act as a liaison for the directors and help deliver information that might not be the easiest to take but might be easier to swallow coming from someone like me rather than the directors themselves. 

I also want to help represent what the executive board has in store throughout the year and their commitments. I also want to help the band live up to the expectation that alumni and the community expect coming from the Blue Band. Above all, I want to leave behind enthusiasm in everything I do. I want it to be a fun experience at the end of the day.

OS: As per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?

CP: I tried looking at this pronunciation and could not figure it out. Angistorhinus.

I saw this guy at the Field Museum in Chicago. It’s so unique looking. You’re not going to forget something like that. You can’t take your eyes off of it because of how unique its features are, and that’s kind of how I want to be as drum major and what I want the band to present during their performances. That level of captivation.

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About the Author

Luke Pieczynski

Luke is a junior accounting major hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, and is Onward State's social media manager. He can often be found sipping on a cold brew or skipping through his Spotify playlist to find a song that's just right. Please send your best take on why VLOOKUP is better than INDEX and MATCH to his Twitter @lukepie11 or his email [email protected].

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