Obermeyers: Band siblings with a ‘major’ role

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
The Obermeyer siblings spend a good portion of their time together outside of home. All three are members of the Jasper marching band. Junior Vince, left, and senior Courtney are drum majors and freshman Josh plays the baritone. "My mom likes that she can see all of us from the stands," Vince said. "Since Courtney is conducting in the back, I'm on a prop in the front and Josh is the second tallest in the band."


JASPER — In many respects, Courtney and Vince Obermeyer are like every drum major who has led the Jasper Marching Wildcats. They’re good musicians and good leaders — examples for their fellow bandmates. But there is something special about the two both being in charge this season.

It marks the first time in Director James Goodhue’s nearly three decades of working with the group that a pair of siblings has held the title of drum major at the same time. And while Courtney, a senior, and Vince, a junior, may have butted heads throughout the season as brother and sister do, they’ve also used their lifelong relationship to lead the perennial powerhouse forward.

“I like it because since we’re open, we can kind of critique each other,” Courtney said. “You can help each other. Since we’re open with each other, you can kind of rant about things that you weren’t expecting, caught you off guard or you were upset about.”

Courtney conducted the marching band while her younger brother Josh, a freshman, marched with his baritone during a Tuesday evening practice at the school.

Jasper’s 2017 routine is titled “City of Gold” and draws on ancient South American cultures through the use of on-field props that resemble ruins and a massive tarp that boasts a detailed Mayan sun calendar. Courtney and Vince lead the group, while a third sibling, freshman Josh, plays the baritone.

The band will perform at its semistate contest at 3:10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pike High School in northwest Indianapolis for a chance to advance to the state contest on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. The Marching Wildcats will also participate in the Music City Invitational at McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee, this Saturday at 3:15 CDT, though this invitational does not directly impact the band’s path to the state finals.

Courtney is the band’s backfield conductor while Vince is a clarinet soloist featured throughout the performance and doesn’t conduct at all. The two said there is much more to the drum major job than simply guiding the band’s performances at contests — they play a huge role in keeping the day-to-day wheels turning. A lot of their work consists of completing tasks like copying music sheets, assembling forms, loading the band trailer or anything else Goodhue needs done.

Vince practiced his clarinet duet during a Tuesday evening practice at the school.

“When everyone else is gone, they’re still there doing stuff,” said Goodhue, adding that the drum majors are like assistants that allow him to be in more than one place. Senior Grace Harmon is the band’s head drum major, and senior Tyler Richardson is also a drum major.

Goodhue appoints students he trusts musically and who go above and beyond what is asked of them to the positions. He said that in the past, multiple siblings have held the title but never at the same time. Goodhue only chooses students who are juniors and seniors to hold the drum major positions.

He said he selected Vince and Courtney because they’re both good musicians with good character who are dependable and trustworthy. And because they have such an open relationship, they help each other personally grow.

“There’s personality barriers that don’t exist between us,” Vince said. “We’ve gotten extremely mad at each other before. We’ve been really happy with each other — made each other laugh until we were crying. We will be yelling at each other, screaming at each other like crazy one minute, and the next we’ve forgotten about it.”

They can say whatever they want to each other, and they both benefit. Vince honestly critiques Courtney’s conducting and his sister doesn’t hold back when assessing his soloing. The two struggled to think of a specific example of a time they really went at it, but noted the exchanges are generally short.

The Obermeyers’ mother, Jo Ellen Obermeyer, said the family’s Jasper home is often abuzz with music or musical discussion. Though she was initially nervous as to how they would get along in their leadership roles, she is proud of her Vince and Courtney. Jo Ellen is married to Keith Obermeyer and the two have one older son in addition to their three children currently playing in the band. Eric Obermeyer is a former Marching Wildcat who graduated from Jasper in 2012.

“I don’t think they realize how much fun it is now,” Jo Ellen said of Courtney and Vince. “I think they’ll look back on it years from now and realize how neat that was.”

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