In tenth grade, Miami Palmetto High School senior Irene Lee joined the marching band. Today, she is a drum captain. As drum captain, she organizes events and the drum line.
The marching band has 50 members, including 30 who play instruments and 20 color guard members.
“During marching season, we usually had three practices a week with the marching band and a section for the drum line,” she says. “I found things to assign to them to learn.”
Lee plays the marching snare drum. She joined the group when a friend mentioned that the group needed more members. She ended up playing bass drum and then switched to snare drum.
“I was ready to join because it gave me an extra opportunity to play, to perform more,” she says. “I made more friends and had a great time. That’s why I stayed. Because of all these good feelings, I wanted to become a drum captain, so I could share that.
She also organized promotional events like percussion camps for future members of the drum line.
“It’s two hours after school that we go over the basics of walking,” she says. “It’s mainly a question of recruitment.”
After the football season, the group moves to a cheer group. They play for events like blood drives or pep rallies.
She is also the pianist of a jazz group.
“We play at different events that the activity director tells us to play and we participate in the various evaluations of the music department,” she says.
Lee has been playing the piano since fourth grade. She participates in The Fair and usually wins first place ribbons.
“I’ve won it at least three times,” she says. “Two of the three are from high school.”
She recently won first place in the Music Teachers’ Association composition competition at the senior level. And she will perform in the honorary recital on March 15.
Lee is professor of theory and composition for the Pinecrest City Music Project. She also teaches piano to high school students for PCMP.
She plans to major in music education in college. She has been accepted to Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida International University, and University of Miami.
She is currently taking a third music theory course at Juilliard. Previously, she took music theory one and two.
Lee is also a teaching assistant for Advanced Placement Music Theory at Palmetto.
She volunteers at Blooming Minds Miami, a mental health awareness organization started by a friend with other students. Lee says they started it to help others because they had suffered from mental health issues.
“Our main goal is to raise awareness about mental health,” she says. “To disseminate correct information. We started during COVID. I do research for their posts and I do research for podcast questions. We develop questions for the interviewer, so that we can ask good questions and I also sometimes help formulate the questions.
She has volunteered at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens as part of the Conservation Students Scholars program since 2019.
“Sometimes we put up information boards and we have charts and to discuss different environmental issues,” she says.
Topics include why we shouldn’t use palm oil and the Million Orchid Project.
Before church services were shut down by COVID, she was in the choir and played bells and piano for the Chinese Baptist Youth Fellowship.
In school, she was Vice President of Mu Alpha Theta Activities and Treasurer of the Science National Honor Society, and is currently Treasurer of the Asian Culture Club.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld
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