Talk:Drum major

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I am not the originator of this page, nor is the main body of the text mine. My contributions, at this point, are the pictures and links. I may make suggestions or additions in the future (with great thought and care).

I should certainly hope that factions or representatives from the various camps, academies, and workshops will retain objectivity and even-handedness with any drum major philosophy they wish to add.

I look forward to any help or additions to this entry!

--Mford123 19:58:09, 2005-08-24 (UTC)

For a start, in a British Army pipe band, the Pipe Major or "Pipey" is in charge of the band. The "Drummie" is usually second in command and his role is timekeeping and ceremonial. If the term "leader" refers to the one in front then it might be a Shetland Pony who will be further ahead...  :) Acorn897 (talk) 00:28, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

British Army[edit]

In relations to the British Army section The Drum Major can hold an rank between Corporal and Warrant Officer Class 2. The badge is 4 inverted chevrons surmonted by a drum badge. If the Drum Major has the rank of colour/staff sergeant a small crown is placed between the chevrons and drum badge. If the Drum Major is a WOII then the large crown goes in its place.

It is also my understanding that the Drum Major is ranked as second in the Sergeants mess, no matter what his rank, under the RSM.

When I can dig out my copy of the Drummers Handbook there is a good section on the history of the Drum Major. SGoat 16:12, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

A Drum Major is always an SNCO or WO as far as I know. I have never seen an instance of a Corporal holding the appointment and I have seen a number of publications specifying it as an SNCO appointment. Can you provide a reference for this? Are you also sure that WO2s don't wear a crown in a wreath? I'm sure I've seen drum majors wearing this and it would be more logical. I also have a suspicion that the Senior Drum Major of the Household Division may be a WO1, but I may be wrong there. -- Necrothesp 21:20, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

As I said I will dig out my copy of The Drummers Handbook (which is the Army publication relating to Bands and Corps of Drums). It is unusual for Drum Majors to be Corporals (as the position is also that of platoon commander for the drums platoon) but it is possible, therefore it tends to be thought of as a SNCO appointment. If the Drum Major is a corporal then they are given honary membership to the Sergeants and WOs mess by virtue of their appointment.

WOIIs can have one of two badges of rank. A plain large crown or a crown surmounted in a laurel wreath. The laurel wreath version is only worn by regimental quatermaster sergeants (RQMS), who hold the rank of WOII. All other WOII appointments (e.g. CSM) use the plain large crown. With regard to the senior Drum Major of the Household Division I do not think you are correct but cannot provide any evidence that your wrong.

In British Army Battalion (there are no regimental corps) Corps of Drums the DM does not have to a side drummer either, he could be from the percussion rank or a flautist. The Royal Marines Band Service is the only British armed forces which stipulates that the DM must be from the side drummers, as can be seen by the thin strip he wears on his trousers instead of the broad strip used by the band.

In modern British Army rank badges all chevrons are worn point down, therefore inverted refers to point up, which nowadays is only used by Drum Majors and Pipe Majors.SGoat 17:05, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I'm aware of the difference between WO2 rank badges. The crown in wreath is not just worn by the RQMS, incidentally; in actual fact, the crown alone is only usually worn by WO2s holding Sgt Maj appointments (CSM/SSM/BSM), so the crown in wreath is probably the commoner of the two, since it's worn by all WO2s in QMS appointments (not just RQMS), of which there are many (and by all WO2s in the Royal Marines, including CSMs, and Royal Navy). The crown in wreath would therefore make more sense in this case, since it would be difficult to distinguish the two types of crown by size alone. And as I said, I have seen it worn, although I'm not saying for definite that it does indicate a WO2. I also think there are regimental/corps variations in the pattern of the Drum Major badge - no two seem to be the same.
Re inverted chevrons, we would indeed call point-up chevrons "inverted" in Britain, but Wikipedia is not just written for British readers and to an American, for instance, "inverted" means point down, which is why it's best to be explicit when writing on Wikipedia. Plus, a chevron in its original form (e.g. in heraldry) is actually point-up, so there is a good argument that normal British chevrons are in actual fact inverted. Incidentally, Staff Corporals of the Household Cavalry also wear four point-up chevrons. -- Necrothesp 20:49, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Sorry I had forgotton about Staff Corporals. It is not difficult on uniform to disguish between C/Sgt crowns and WOII crowns, especially when used in No 1 dress. What I was always told as a cadet Drum Major affiliated to the RRF was that as a DM is not in a QMS role then they use the plain crown, but I do agree with you that each regiment and corps will have traditions that go towards the badge or rank. Maybe this is something to point out in the article? SGoat 07:49, 6 March 2007 (UTC) "It is also my understanding that the Drum Major is ranked as second in the Sergeants mess, no matter what his rank, under the RSM". This is not so. He is subject to the same rules of seniority as other members. Acorn897 (talk) 00:22, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Unique in Canada? Recently watching a Van Doos' (Royal 22nd Regiment) parade, I noted that the DM was wearing double insignia: both sergeant's three point-down chevrons and DM's four point-up chevrons on the same sleeve. I assume this is either unique to the Canadian Army or to the Van Doos. I have never seen this done in the British services. However, since Sgt is a rank and DM is an appointment, I wonder why not?

Another Canadian curiosity: staff sergeants of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police still wear four point-up chevrons on the lower sleeve. And RCMP sergeants-major wear four point-down chevrons surmounted by a crown in the same lower sleeve position. I am told that these insignia were inherited from British cavalry rank insignia in the nineteenth century, similar to Household Cavalry insignia. Adwo (talk) 21:57, 26 July 2014 (UTC)


I would dispute that people who march at the heads of bands with maces originated in Britain. Sure, "Drum Majors" (capital Ds and Ms) may be uniquely British. But mace-wielding marching guys? (talk) 04:02, 13 June 2009 (UTC)


I would like to reorganize part of the article into High School, College, and Drum Corps as I feel that there are specific details about each of these levels. For example you can differentiate both style and roles between the different levels. I think that this will make the article read more smoothly so that it does not jump back and forth between these different levels. In addition, it will be easier to write about one of these specific areas instead of having to include all three in every sentence when talking about different interpretations of the drum major. In my opinion, these 3 levels, and the current military interpretation on the page, cover all of the different areas that a drum major is found. Am I missing anything? Thoughts? --Squeeksrocks (talk) 19:39, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

It would be nice if the part of the article dealing with US schools/colleges could be a bit more encyclopaedic: for example, there is no mention at all of when these marching bands originated, or of the development of the role of the DM over time. Thomas Peardew (talk) 20:17, 16 November 2016 (UTC)

I would like to separate the "Military Position" section of the article into a separate article. I feel that it is enough of a different topic to warrant mentioning separately. As it is, the Major article redirects to the Drum major article and a reader would be reading about leaders of a marching band with a small mention of a military position. I propose that the new article be titled Drum major (rank). Squeeksrocks (talk) 16:02, 15 December 2010 (UTC)


drum major on the left

What's about the english drum majors especially at Trooping the Colour? --111Alleskönner (talk) 16:58, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

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