Music Educator / Performer
The Daily Collegian, 2013
Penn State University - The Daily Collegian
Outgoing Drum Major Profile
May 2013 (printed in Finals Week issue)
Blue Band drum major Ian Kenney took chances
By Emily Chappell
Collegian Staff Writer
Students know him for the flip at the beginning of Penn State football games.
They know him for leading the Penn State Blue Band on and off the field, home or away.
Penn State Drum Major Ian Kenney said he had no gymnastics experience before attaining the leadership position, and feels like his chance to become a figurehead for this popular Happy Valley sport was based on luck.
“I’d never done a flip in my life,” Kenney (senior-music education ) said.
The musician said he began training for a few months when he decided he wanted to go out for the position. He said he began conditioning and attending club gymnastics.
Kenney said his first flip on grass was somewhat of an event of fate. He said he was on the grass, and someone had left behind a pair of cleats on the sidelines.
After running over to check the shoes, he said they were his size and that he knew it was a sign.
Kenney said he took a deep breath, took off, and after brief moments in the air, landed on his feet; he said he was told from that moment on, there was no turning back.
From the very beginning of Kenney’s education, instruments, notes and lyrics developed his passion for music. From joining his middle school band, playing for school musicals and becoming involved in marching band, these milestones led to Kenney becoming drum major for his high school.
The Wallenpaupack Area School District graduate said he didn’t always know he was going to Penn State and was torn between becoming a Nittany Lion or going to a smaller school.
He said he toured the Penn State campus on his seventeenth birthday, and upon seeing the school thought he couldn’t say no.
“It looked so legit to me,” Kenney said. “I just wanted that experience to go to a big university.”
Kenney said his father helped him decide between schools, reminding him to choose whether he wanted to be a big fish in a small pond, or a [big] fish in a big pond.
“I wanted to come here and do something in my five years,” he said.
He said he came out for the Blue Band as a sousaphone player, before eventually going out for the drum major slot.
Kenney said he always considers himself fortunate to have been given the position, attributing his success partially to luck.
“I was just lucky enough to be the one that they wanted. I don’t think I was better than anyone else,” he said.
He said that many have influenced his growth while at Penn State, especially Blue Band Director O. Richard Bundy.
Kenney said Bundy has helped him grow most as a person and as a leader.
Bundy said that Kenney has always come off as “very intense,” something that shone through each time he defended and kept his drum major position.
“Everything he attempts he goes at it 110 percent,” Bundy said. “He’s a very talented and well-rounded musician.”
He said Kenney has been a good leader for all in the band, by being an example of how everyone should act.
“The way in which he has conducted himself as a person […] he has set a great example for the students,” Bundy said. “That kind of leading by example would be the strongest thing that I would point out [about how he led] the band.”
Band mate Chris Siergiej also said that Kenney had a motivation and determination that members of the band responded to.
Siergiej (junior-computer science and math) said it was apparent that Kenney wanted people to be exercised and become better.
“Ian is someone who’s very confident,” he said. “He has this charisma.”
Kenney said that upon his final days in the position, he has been writing a handbook for the future drum major.
He said he wants to help whoever gets the position to transition.
“With anything that I do, I want to leave it better than when I got it,” he said.
When he’s not working with the Blue Band, Kenney plays bass for local band Public Domain.
In addition, Kenney said he’s currently in the process of beginning a new band.
“I’m excited about writing music again,” Kenney said.
During his time at Penn State, Kenney said he has been involved in and seen a lot of things that not many others have.
He said a few things will stick in his mind, such as being on a ladder at Old Main during the vigils for Joe Paterno and those after last year’s chaos, as well as being on the field during pregame.
“Every moment is really special because there’s nothing like being in [this] role. The big moments are the ones that really stick with you,” Kenney said.
Kenney said that although it’s cliché, he’s realized upon his final days in Happy Valley that time goes very quickly. He said he thinks about and prepares for the future.
He said that although it’s hard to let things go here, it’s time for the next step.
Kenney said during his time at Penn State, he’s experienced so much and wants to one day write it all down.
“I’ve seen and experienced things as a Penn Stater that I understand that most students and alumni [haven’t],” he said. “It’s really hard to put into words but one day I hope to.”