Chandler Folmar and his grandmother, Linda, have more in common than their DNA – both served as drum major of their high school bands.
“She was a great drum major – in total control of everyone and every event,” said majorette and former classmate Maxine Hanson Kennedy, remembering Linda’s year as leader of Winnsboro’s Red Raider Marching Band in the fall of 1966.
Seems the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.
“Chandler is a firm, aggressive field commander,” said Charles McCauley, director of bands and fine arts at Sulphur Springs High School. “You can hear him give the ‘cover down’ command from one end of the field to the other.”
Members of the WHS band could hear Linda loud and clear, too.
“I remember such a loud booming voice coming from such a small person,” Kennedy noted.
Loud and aggressive are not two adjectives anyone would normally use to describe Linda or Chandler, but something happens when they step onto the field.
Linda spent 29 years as an elementary school teacher, finishing her final few years as a literary support teacher. In the classroom, she was softspoken, kind and attentive to her students. She obviously handed down some of that calm, cool exterior to her grandson.
“Chandler is so laid back,” McCauley said with a laugh. “He’ll probably outlive all of us.”
Chandler, a senior, is the son of Chad and Holly Folmar and Cindy Modrall. He has a sister, Carson Folmar, who is 13, and a step-brother, Carson Hicks, who is 16. He is the grandson of Jimmy and Karen Willis. His parental grandparents, Linda and John, have been married since 1967.
Chandler tried out for drum major before his sophomore year, but admits he wasn’t ready for the job.
“This year, I spent a lot of time practicing the conducting part of it,” he said, “and voice commands.”
Voice commands didn’t come easily to him because, by nature, he’s pretty quiet.
Chandler decided to take up band in the 8th grade, later than most students his age.
“I spent two weeks in the 6th grade band, but I got to move up and was able to understand what was going on, so they moved me up,” he admitted.
He’s been first chair saxophone for the past two years and has had important solos in the symphonic band, including a difficult solo on a soprano sax during UIL competition, notes McCauley.
“When you combine Chandler’s excellent playing with his strong leadership, you’re going to have a great drum major,” McCauley said.
In fact, Chandler was named Most Outstanding Drum Major at the recent Northeast Texas Marching Band Contest in Mount Pleasant in a field of 29.
It took a while for the weight of the honor to sink in.
“Whenever they said my name, I did my salute,” he noted. “I took the trophy and went back [to the group]. It wasn’t until I got home that I was pretty shook up.”
Remaining calm under pressure is one of the qualities it takes to be a memorable drum major.
“Being steady is huge for being a leader because kids go up and down,” McCauley explained. “But if the leader goes up and down, it’s not good. Chandler is the same today as he was on contest day.”
Chandler does his best to give his troops a positive message, even when it comes to critiques.
“As musicians, you are constructively criticized all the time,” Chandler noted. “You just get used to it. It’s not personal when I tell freshman, ‘Hit your spot. Move over.’”
Performances are Chandler’s favorite part of his job.
“I like showing people what we can actually do,” he said. “Going up against other bands is the greatest.”
McCauley says some of Chandler’s gifts can’t be taught.
“At Mount Pleasant, he didn’t move until the judges said, ‘You may take the field.’ I didn’t teach him to do that. He did that on his own. It was so impressive,” his director noted.
Like his grandmother, Chandler wants to spend his professional life as a teacher. Currently, he plans to major in music education at Texas Tech University, with an eye on being a college band instructor.
However, unlike his grandmother, who admits to nightmares before a Friday show, Chandler doesn’t lose any shuteye prior to a performance.
“I sleep soundly,” the young man noted. “I just try to do my best.”
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