She’s got the beat: Hartselle senior Kenzie Barrier commands the band
Photos by Mariann Parker and contributed
Directing the Hartselle High School marching band every Friday night, either at J.P. Cain Stadium or on the road is Hartselle senior Kenzie Barrier.
“It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding,” the 17-year-old honor student said. “It’s been my dream since freshman year, so it’s like all my dreams are coming true.”
Barrier plays the flute in concert band. Beginning in her freshman year, she became friends with the drum major, who also played the flute. When she became a junior, her best friend Claire Alford was selected as the drum major and Barrier worked as her assistant. Through those experiences, Barrier said she got an up-close view of the hard work it takes to command the band.
“It’s very stressful and a whole lot of work, and it takes a special kind of person, but I know it’ll pay off,” she said. “You have to have a good understanding of marching and time and how it all works together.”
Barrier said the stress of the marching season culminated when the band traveled to Winfield High School Oct. 1 to compete against 11 other marching bands in the 16th Pirate Classic Band Competition.
Their hard work paid off in a big way with the Hartselle marching band winning Best in Class overall, Best in Class drum major, Best in Class color guard and received all superior scores.
Now, Barrier said, Friday nights after competition is over are less stress and a lot more fun.
Through her experience as the Hartselle drum major, Barrier said she has learned a lot about herself and all she is capable of achieving.
“I wasn’t really planning on studying music after high school before I was drum major and now, I just love kind of being in charge of it, I love leadership,” she said. “Being the drum major has really prepared me for that.”
Barrier said those leadership skills likely came from being the eldest of six children born to her parents Todd and Jonna Barrier.
“The leadership question was asked during my drum major interview and I’ve always said ‘Well, I have a lot of siblings,’” Barrier said with a laugh.
She said she has always tried to be a role model for her younger siblings: Greyson, Ellie, Harrison, Mollie and Jackson.
“I’m always on my best behavior – so it’s just engraved to be a good leader,” she added.
While she isn’t 100 percent set yet on what her plans are after graduation next spring, she said she is considering either The University of Alabama or Troy University where she would pursue a degree in education and music.
She attributes a portion of her success from the things she has learned while under the tutelage of Hartselle’s band director Randall Key.
“The band is made up of 65 percent eighth and ninth graders, so he had to completely build the band up,” Barrier said, adding she was “really worried” at the beginning of the school year.
“Seeing how he can make something so terrible into something so good and seeing the outcome of his hard work is really inspiring,” she said.
Key said it has been “amazing” to see Barrier watch her come out of her shell from a shy, quiet girl to a leader through her time as the drum major.
“It’s intrinsically rewarding to watch that happen in a student,” Key said. “That’s the fun part of the job.”
Barrier has a lot of responsibilities that the public doesn’t see, Key added.
“She has a litany of responsibilities,” he said. “She is responsible for setting the standard for discipline, maintaining musical pro ciency on her instrument, acting as assistant band director, organizing our indoor and outdoor rehearsal areas, setting up electronics for rehearsal, and is responsible for distributing music and drill sheets for our band. I am very proud of her and have so enjoyed witnessing her journey and seeing her develop into an outstanding leader on and o the eld. She understands her role and applies the simple principle of leading by example.”
In her spare time, she said she enjoys reading historical and dystopian fiction. Barrier also plays the ukele, guitar, piano and she is learning the trumpet.
Barrier is a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and the co-president of the SADD Club (Students Against Destructive Decisions.)