UI senior makes strides as university bands’ first female band manager

University of Iowa senior Kate Weldon has been working hard this past year as the band manager for the School of Music, overseeing the school’s concert bands and the Hawkeye Marching Band.


Kate Heston

University of Iowa student Kate Weldon poses for a portrait on April 20, 2021. Weldon is a senior at Iowa majoring in music education and flute performance. She is also the current band manager at Iowa. (Kate Heston/The Daily Iowan)

Delaney Orewiler, Arts Reporter

Women in the University of Iowa School of Music continue to make history in the 2020-21 academic year. The university announced last week that its new Director of Orchestral Activities, Professor Mélisse Brunet, will be the first woman to hold the position. This spring, UI senior Amanda Thomas was chosen as the Hawkeye Marching Band’s next drum major and will become one of the few women in the band’s history to hold the position.

This past year of powerful women taking leadership in what have been historically male roles at the UI began at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic, however, when UI senior Kate Weldon became the first woman to hold the title of Band Manager at the university.

“When I got the email and I saw my name, I was just crying,” Weldon said. “I was so happy, and it was really one of the most incredible moments. All of the hard work paid off.”

Weldon, who studies music education and flute performance, has held positions of leadership within the band for the past three years. Her sophomore year, she worked as Squadron Leader to help band members during drills, and her junior year she was part of Work Crew, the administrative side of the band.

Hawkeye Marching Band Director Eric Bush said Weldon’s journey to becoming band manager began long before her senior year.

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“She has proven herself to be a leader all the way through her career in the HMB. Her degree program is flute performance and music education, but in the marching band she plays tenor saxophone,” Bush said. “She came through the ranks as she became the tenor sax section leader before she became band manager. She’s been managing people and earning respect through her leadership for a number of years. She’s always organized, she’s dedicated, and knows how to get a job done efficiently. She’s a person who can see the big picture. She’s a really exceptional person, top to bottom.”

Consistent with typical band manager responsibilities, Weldon has done a little bit of everything.

“There’s a lot of things [band managers] have to be good at. They have to be great marchers and players,” Bush said. “We want them to be organized. Our band manager has conducting duties, logistical duties, they have driving the band duties. They’re in charge of smaller gigs. There’s a ton that person has to negotiate.”

Bush said Weldon has excelled at each of these duties, adding that she truly sees the big picture and isn’t afraid to ask questions.

RELATED: UI School of Music selects first woman to direct orchestral activities

Weldon said she still has many every day.

“I’m supposed to be the old person now, but I’m still clueless so many times,” she said.

Next fall, Weldon will student teach at City High School in Iowa City. She said her ultimate career goal is to gain her doctorate in music and to become a college marching band director. As for whoever assumes her position in the future, she said she hopes to leave a legacy for them.

“We have a couple of really, really great women on Work Crew right now,” she said. “I hope I’m not the last one. I hope that whoever is band manager after me, no matter how they identify, will be better than me.”