East Wake High’s Blue Spirit Marching Band drum major, Raymond Serrano, wants to one day become a pediatric brain surgeon. It’s a big change from the way he uses his hands now as the leader of the school’s marching band.
Q: You are the drum major for the East Wake High School marching band. Do you remember when your love for music developed?
A: It was really my older brother who convinced me. I really wasn’t thinking about joining a band but my brother told me it was something I should do in middle school so when I was in the sixth grade at Zebulon Middle, I decided to try it. I played the French horn – it was an instrument I wanted to play because it has such a warm and rich sound. Not loud like a tuba or whiny like a trombone can be. I stuck with it and got pretty good.
Q: And you continued that when you got to East Wake High?
A: Actually, I got tired of it and decided not to do band my freshman year. My sophomore year, I decided to join again. I forgot how great it was to play.
Q: But when you are a drum major, you don’t play. What made you decide to step into that role? What is the process in determining who the drum major will be? Did you have to audition?
A: We still have a concert band and I play there, but I obviously don’t play as a drum major. Last year, I decided to sign up to try out for drum major. There were six of us going out for it and it was basically just a quick break down on how to conduct. We were interviewed by our band director, the former drum major, and an old band director.
Q: They chose you so they must have seen some leadership qualities. What exactly does a drum major do?
A: Basically, the drum major just serves everyone else. They get stuff ready and makes sure everyone has what they need. It is almost like being the parent of the band.
Q: Did you grow up in eastern Wake?
A: I was born in Pennsylvania but moved to North Carolina when I was around 3 or 4. My dad worked for Caterpillar and that is why we were in Pennsylvania. When we moved down here, he worked in construction.
Q: Did you have family in North Carolina?
A: Both of my parents were born in Mexico. We have family along the east coast: Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina. We came to North Carolina for a job for my dad.
Q: Do you still have a lot of family in Mexico? Do your parents like to go back and visit?
A: Both sets of my grandparents are still there so we go back a lot to visit. I have been there at least seven times. We spend Christmas there. Last year, it was really fun. We skinned a pig and make pork rinds and bacon. The food there is always amazing. It is just so natural. My grandparents live on a farm – they have cattle, pigs. We were planning on making steak tacos so we just went and killed one of the cows. Most everything we eat is right there on the farm. We have lime trees. My uncle has mango trees so if we want fruit, we just go and pick it. My grandmother makes the best salsa, with fresh avocados.
Q: Your Spanish must be pretty good?
A: It is OK. I grew up here so I grew up speaking English.
Q: Then do you struggle when you return to Mexico?
A: My parents make me speak Spanish. They tell me back home, you speak English, but when we are in Mexico visiting family, you speak their language. I must not be too bad because I think they can understand me most of the time (laughing).
Q: What do you particularly like about the culture – art, music?
A: Really, I like the food. I have never been a fan of the music, or American music for that matter. I like classical music, particularly the more contemporary classical artists like Eric Whitacre and John Mackey.
Q: Do you feel there are many Hispanics who participate in high school marching bands or do you feel that there may be a language barrier that prevents them? Have you had more Hispanic students approach you about participating in band?
A: We do have some Hispanics in band but not a lot. I really haven’t been approached by more who want to participate but that would be nice to see.
Q: With an interest in music, is that something you are going to pursue in college?
A: I am planning on majoring in anatomy and physiology. I would like to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Q: What got you interested in medicine?
A: I have just always like anatomy. I have never been squeamish about blood or whatnot. The medical terms, their meanings, learning the parts of the body – all of that stuff has just come natural to me. I am in HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) and we completed a knowledge test and I scored pretty good on it.
Q: You said you had two younger siblings. Do they have an inclination toward music?
A: One is in the band and one joins a lot of musical clubs. I suppose you could say that music just runs in the family.
Correspondent Dena Coward