For Florida State University music majors, the week of Prism is something to be celebrated according to junior Emilia Addeo. Classes don’t hold to their usual rehearsal schedules so all energy can be poured into the annual show, which features performances from the College of Music’s many bands and ensemblegroups. For Addeo, it’s another chance to perform with the Marching Chiefs, and she’s looking forward to Sunday, Feb. 4.
An assistant drum major for the Marching Chiefs, Addeo knows every move on the field by heart. For the high step, called the chief step, performers maintain their legs parallel to the ground, at a perpendicular angle, with a pointed toe and a pop to the gait. She dedicates numerous hours every week to rehearsals, pep bands, and game days, and though it can be tiring, Addeo says it’s always worth the effort.
“You can’t be complacent because as soon as you get to the point where you’re confident and have learned something new, you can always be better,” says Addeo. “You’re constantly climbing a ladder and never reaching the top. You just keep going.”
In high school, her band director, Jacqui Parsons, was an enormous influence on her decision to study music education. Addeo remarks on how rare it is to have a female band director in the maledominated field. With Parsons as a role model and her parents’ encouragement, she auditioned for several music programs before Florida State.
“As soon as I got on campus I was in love,” says Addeo, who quickly joined the Marching Chiefs during her freshman year in the brass section.
As a “rookie” player Addeo was matched with a row leader—a veteran marching chief—who taught her the fundamentals and traditions of the band. She says her leader, Alex Machecek, taught her the greatest lesson of all: to loosen up and have fun.
Coming from a competitive marching background, Addeo appreciated this advice and has allowed it to permeate into every aspect of her day-to-day life. Now in her junior year at FSU, she reflects on growing up in Boca Raton and her first musical aspirations to be just like her older sister.
“I started music in the sixth grade in beginning band because my older sister was a flute player and I thought she was just too cool,” laughs Addeo. “During instrument tryouts you go around andsample each one and they give you a rating. Clarinet was my lowest score, but the grader said I had long fingers, and if I worked hard, I could do it.”
She dedicated herself to the instrument, eventually growing an affinity for jazz clarinet pieces and Artie Shaw, “the King of Clarinet.” Her middle school band director would often place Addeo in leadership roles in class, allowing her to conduct warm-ups and planting the idea of becoming a drum major one day.
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