A&M Consolidated's Biggest Little Drum Major

Some longtime fans of A&M Consolidated High School football might tell you they've seen it all on that gridiron. Jane McKenzie isn't on the team. She's in the band, and she likely bucks the "seen it all" trend, and for all the right reasons.

The junior is one of three drum majors for the marching band, but also stands three-and-a-half feet tall, born with achondroplasia dwarfism.

"Average-sized torso, shorter-sized legs, big head," McKenzie said with a laugh.

That's a big head in the literal sense. Figuratively, not so much.

"All of the students really respect her, both for what she's overcoming in terms of her stature, but also in her personality," said Jason Rabinowitz, who oversees the marching band. "She's always happy, no matter even if she's not."

McKenzie's love of music stretches back to the 5th grade, when she says she started in orchestra. However, she wasn't thrilled with that musical endeavor, so she switched to band. Her instrument of choice is the trumpet.

It's game day in Tigerland, and all eyes are on Consol's football squad, but for those fans who consider the band to be a big hit, there's a little secret that everyone should know about.

This year, though, the junior traded that trumpet for a drum major role. She's one of three in the 150-member band. She's one of one in the band of her size.

"You're the communication between the directors and the students," McKenzie said. "People look up to you. Mostly, what people think of a drum major is that they're the ones out there on the field conducting."

Of course, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes duties that she and her fellow drum majors take on, but the students leaders are most visible atop their perches, looking down on the band as they look up for direction.

If you think a smaller stature might be a drawback when it comes to Jane's ability to lead, here's a big surprise.

"A lot of times, my arms are a hindrance, because if I want to conduct something small, my minute movements to try to convey that I need something quiet are cumbersome," Rabinowitz explained. "She's able to do a lot of finesse and a lot of musicality with her conducting that is pretty amazing."

There's no disputing that McKenzie draws a few eyes to her when she's on the field. She certainly won't dispute it.

"I remember in the past when I would be marching, I would watch the binoculars in the stands and the cameras in the stands," she said. "I don't know, it's the shock, but then it's like, 'oh, that's cool. She can do it.'"

She proves it behind the scenes and in front of Tigerland. There is not shortage of determination for someone who didn't let size become an obstacle.

"I don't really care," she said. "I just want to do what I want to do, so it didn't stop me."

So what's next for McKenzie? If she has her way, she be working in pediatrics. Plus, she's always had an interest in primates, and wouldn't mind working with them.

Of course, music will always have a special place in her heart.

"I love every minute of it," she said.

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