Junior Kaden Neighbors leads band as new drum major


Emilia Weinrobe

Neighbors leads Midtown’s Marching Band at the JV Football game on Oct. 14 against Therrell High School.

Tori Williams

From the band room as a third grader at Centennial Elementary School to Henderson Stadium on Midtown’s campus, Kaden Neighbors’ band career has come a long way. Only a junior, Neighbors is Midtown Knights of Sound’s drum major.

The drum major plays a vital role in Midtown’s marching band. As band leader, the drum major is responsible for ensuring the band is organized and in time with the music. Though the position comes with many responsibilities, some band members, including sophomore Avi Crosby, think Neighbors fits the role perfectly.

“He makes marching band a super fun and welcoming environment,” Crosby said. “He is very knowledgeable and will give suggestions and help when needed. He includes everyone and just makes it an exciting experience.”

Neighbors’ decision to join the band was heavily influenced by his older brother, Kenneth. 

“My brother was in it [band], so I just wanted to do it,” Neighbors said. “I started on bass clarinet, but I now switch and play tenor saxophone and bass clarinet.” 

At age 8, when Neighbors picked up his first instrument, his parents, Julia and Kenneth Neighbors, had no idea his love for music would develop into what it is today.

“My initial hope was that he would have fun and develop an appreciation for music,” Julia Neighbors said. “Who knew when picking up that plastic recorder in the third grade that Kaden would develop such a passion for music.”

Neighbors’ past band experiences provided many opportunities his parents supported. Since third grade, they have only missed one performance due to Covid-19.

“We were so proud of Kaden for stepping up to take the role of drum major,” his mother said. “He’s a pretty reserved kid — and marching band has not only enhanced his music experience — it’s served as a true breeding ground for developing his leadership skills.”

Midtown’s band teacher, Artis Staton, thought Neighbors was right for the job.

“I approached him,” Staton said. “He is one of our veterans in the band, and he is also one of our stronger musicians, which is a really crucial component for a drum major. You have to be a strong musician because at the end of the day, you are in a position that is being looked up to by your peers.”

Neighbors’ personality also made him a top candidate for drum major.

“Just his overall charisma and his energy, he just loves to be here and that energy rubs off. It’s contagious,” Staton said. “It is really important to have the right vibes in the room, especially since we have such a young group. It’s important to have his attitude and just his overall energy that he brings to the table.”

Neighbors’ personality, drive and energy that help encourage others to strive for excellence in the band, Staton and band members said.

“Kaden has good leadership skills and also has a very strong musical background,” Crosby said. “He is also extremely passionate about band and marching band, which is encouraging.”

Neighbors is not only a leader, but is also a friend to younger band members. 

“Kaden is one of the only people in the marching band who has participated in it for previous years, so he really knows what’s happening and how the season works,” sophomore Sophia Lenhart said. “He’s also a kind person, who’s willing to help anyone with anything, no matter how stupid it is, and he can still relate to the band by cracking jokes and making mistakes.”

Neighbors said his favorite memory is from ninth grade.

“I liked freshman year when I played in my first show on the field,” Neighbors said. “I thought it was pretty cool.”

Nearing the end of his high school career, Neighbors said he wants to pursue music in the future. 

“I plan on getting a music degree,” Neighbors said. “I then plan on getting a performance or composition degree.”

Neighbors and his parents are eager to see what the future has in store for him.

“Our hope is that music will always play a role in his life, whether he pursues it in higher education or professionally,” Julia Neighbors said. “Regardless, music has laid, and will certainly provide a solid foundation for his future.”

No matter how the band performs, Neighbors said he enjoys spending time and creating music with the group. 

“I like to get my band laughing all the time and to get them hyped,” Neighbors said. “If we have a bad performance, I always try to see the good side — just try to stay positive.”