Abbie Russelberg wins CMU Band's Cymbal Award

In less than a year,  Abbie Russelburg went from a Geology major with a passion for music to being accepted into the Music Education program and awarded the CMU Cymbal Award.

Russelburg is a current senior at Central Michigan University, double majoring in Geology and Music Education. This past year, her first as a Music Education major, she won the CMU Cymbal Award.

Russelburg chose CMU because her mom attended this school as well as her aunt lives a few minutes away. Originally, she came to CMU as a Photojournalism major, planning to minor in Music Education, but decided not to go through with her original audition into the program.

Instead, she participated in University Band for three semesters and switched her major to geology during her second semester at CMU.

Last year, the University Band didn’t have enough percussionists. Alex Prout, a friend of Russelburg’s and a music major, said he noticed she “cared too much about music” to not be a music major and he helped her get another audition. 

Russelburg said she was accepted to the Music Education program on the spot at the audition.

Anna Foster, leader of the cymbal line, and Wyatt McCoy, the second leader, decided who received the Cymbal Award this year. 

“It’s pretty much meant for a freshman or a first-year cymbal player who we feel has, throughout the season, exemplified and kind of shows what it means to be part of the cymbal line, the drum line, and to represent the marching band as a whole,” Foster said.

To her knowledge, Russelburg received the award for her work ethic. Although she was not expecting it, she said it made her excited for the future to see what she can bring to the group.

“It means a lot to me in the sense of I didn’t regress as much as I thought I did in the few years I was dormant,” Russelburg said. “It showed me that I do have some sort of impact on the people around me, even when I'm not in a leadership position.”

Russelburg believes that receiving this award has opened her eyes to her potential. 

“Looking back at middle school me, I never thought that any of this was possible, Russelburg said. “I never thought I'd be able to play the things I play.”

When deciding who to give the award to, Foster said that she and McCoy looked at a few different factors, including attendance, overall school spirit in the marching band, behavior in the stands and rehearsal etiquette. They also looked at who was learning their music, who was learning their visuals, and who would show up prepared.

“[Abbie] was injured in some cases, so it was hard for her to play,” Foster said. “You know, college is college, and we all struggle through it, and she still showed up to band everyday ready and engaged, and that set her apart from most other players.”

Russelburg says that she owes her accomplishments to her professor, Dr. Spencer.

“[He] is amazing in the fact that he just took a chance on an upcoming junior who hasn't played percussion in forever and has wrist problems,” Russelburg said.

Foster hopes that Russelburg continues to play music in her future.

“She’s very talented,” Foster said. “I hope that throughout marching band and her major and her other major… that she’s able to just hold herself to the high and kinda great standards that she has for herself with her classes and everything else that she does.”