Artist of the Month: Carissa Blumka


Photo from

TOP OF THE LADDER: Drum Major Carissa Blumka (12) conducts for the marching band.

Allie Emmet, A&E Editor

Senior Carissa Blumka was chosen July 26 as one of eleven drum majors across the country to earn the distinction of Drum Major First Class through the Smith Walbridge Drum Major Academy. Her story began her sophomore year when Band Director Jessen Smith encouraged her to audition for the position.

“I knew she would be a great candidate, but I was worried her own humility might have kept her from making that decision herself,” Smith said.

Smith and Blumka agree that the balance of musical and leadership responsibilities are a great fit for her.

“The experience of it really aligns with my own personality. We usually go away to a drum major academy, this year it was online, but that whole experience and environment was really comfortable for my skill set and priorities,” Blumka said.

Evidently, Blumka didn’t stop at just becoming a drum major at DGN. She saw an opportunity through Smith Walbridge Clinics, an institute offering online programs, to further her study and to possibly earn a new certification. After 4 phases of tests, video recordings, and conducting, she made it through all the cuts.

“I believe above all else, Carissa’s ability to set her mind to a goal, and diligently work towards it, enabled her to achieve such a high honor. Yes – she has a natural giftedness, but without the ability to apply her knowledge and skills, she wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Smith said.

Although Blumka’s work ethic and musical technique are important aspects to her success, her leadership skills are where she truly shines.

“I love being able to interact with and help out others while also establishing genuine friendships because the community aspect of band is a really big thing at North,” Blumka said.

Blumka’s passion for connecting with and aiding others is apparent to Smith and it cements her outstanding dedication to being a drum major.

“Carissa is a student that embodies one of my favorite quotes I heard from my own teachers growing up: ‘We use music and excellence to teach each other about success in life.’ Not only will Carissa be successful in life, but she will help everyone around her achieve their own success as well,” Smith said.