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Q&A: Student discusses directing CMU Color Guard, national experience


Maggie Meyer

Ironwood senior Maggie Meyer is a double major in math and psychology, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing creative outlets in other aspects of her life.

Meyer has participated in the artistic sport of color guard since she was in eighth grade. 

It was not until joining the Chippewa Marching Band and its indoor winter guard program that Meyer was able to grow as a performer, she said. 

Now as a senior, Meyer has taken on the role of director and choreographer.  

The knowledge she gained at CMU allowed her to be part of an international organization called Drum Corps. Meyer marched with Legends Drum and Bugle Corps in their color guards during Summer 2019. With Legends, Meyer was able to travel the United States while training and competing with other talented and highly trained performers.   

Color guard director and choreographer Maggie Meyer spoke with Central Michigan Life about her experiences, both as a national performer and as the director of CMU’s color guard.  

CM Life: How would you explain color guard to someone who doesn’t know what it is? 

Meyer: When I explain color guard to people who don’t know about it, I usually (explain) it as picturing people dancing. Then, picture a six foot metal pole with a bedsheet on it, essentially this is the flag. In addition you could spin rifles or sabres. You can also choose to either spin to a marching band which is fall guard or Drum Corps. (Dancing to) recorded audio tracks is winter guard, and that is typically done indoors in a gym.  

How did you discover color guard? 

I technically discovered color guard in high school. I auditioned in eighth grade, and I got in for my freshman year and spun. However, we didn’t know the most basic skills. 

So, I started there. I liked it, but what I really liked was dance. It wasn’t until I got to college and joined the Chippewa Marching Band that I really understood what color guard, winter guard and Drum Corps were.  

How did you find out about CMU’s winter guard and color guard? 

It was a last-minute thing. I was registering for orientation, and they asked me if I wanted to audition for the color guard. I auditioned for the dance team first and got cut, and I was devastated. So, I tried out (for color guard) and got a spot.

I am really glad that things turned out the way they did. In my freshman year, I had an identity crisis about wanting to be on the dance team because at the football games I could see the dancers. I wanted to dance. 

With the color guard here it's hard to do more dance skills because that's not the focus, but once I started winter guard and later Drum Corps, I realized I could dance and wave this metal pole. I really started to fall in love with the activity. 

What is Drum Corps? 

This is another form of the performing arts if you take the marching brand and select only brass, drumline, front ensemble and color guard. We all perform one show, and there is open class and world-class which is essentially JV and varsity. 

There is spring training. You get together for a month and learn a show. A show is around 10-12 minutes, and then from the end of June to August, you go around the entire U.S performing. At the end, they have finals, which are in Indianapolis, and you perform at Lucas Oil Stadium.  

How did you end up as the director of CMU’s color guard and winter guard? 

My sophomore year I got a call while I was studying abroad asking if I wanted to be the co-captain for CMU Color Guard. Unfortunately, the captain my junior year had to step down. I was thrust into the role as a junior. Then, typically the person who runs the fall guard gets to direct the winter program if they would like.  

Are you still grateful to have been given that role? 

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really enjoy getting to share with others my passion for color guard because my high school program didn’t know a lot. I like the opportunity to give people the chance to do what they want to do and chase their dreams.  

What is it like being a student leader among your peers? 

I think it’s really fun. You don’t realize how many people are watching you and how much of an impact you have on people’s lives until one random person will come up to you. I am grateful to have the opportunity to be that positive influence.  

What are some of the challenges that you learned through choreographing and directing? 

I think the biggest challenge I had to overcome was being true to myself. Something they don’t tell you when you get the leadership role is you have to be the bad guy sometimes and make the choices that are best for the group even if it isn’t what you want to do. Also, something that is really scary if you’re an artist, even if you’re not in color guard, is putting your content out there. When you share it, you want people to like it. Something I had to overcome is sharing my thoughts and ideas with the whole world.  

What is the proudest moment of your Color Guard Career? 

My proudest moment was when I got my contract at Legends. When I say my high school knew nothing, I really mean it. In fall 2019, I spun every day for an hour if not two no matter how busy I was -- even if that meant I had to get up at 7 a.m. 

I wanted to do Drum Corps. It’s pretty unheard of to get contracted in November as a rookie, but I got a November contract and perfect scores on my score sheets, and I just cried.  

What is something in guard that would surprise people? 

How hard the color guard works. It is really hard to make the flags to go around in time. I know that sounds silly and simple. The only way that happens though is if they are flat at the same time, the angle at the same time, and the idea of subdividing. It is a lot of mental concentration. 

Why do you do color guard? 

It has changed a lot. I love performing and sharing who I am with an audience. But now as a leader in the role, I do it because of the changes you can make in people’s lives.  

Is there anything else you want people to know about CMU’s guard? 

I want the color guard to know how proud I am of them. You asked me about my proudest moment, and I told you what I had done. However, the proudest thing I have ever done for other people is leading this group and seeing how much people could grow. In a year of incredible adversity from auditioning on a video call, to learning on zoom, they have made incredible progress.