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For the first time since the Penn Band began 95 years ago, a woman will fill the role of Drum Major -- the Band's highest post. As the student conductor of the Band for the next year, Alves will be responsible for coordinating rehearsals and all Band performances. In addition, Alves will have to handle many other non-musical tasks. As the most visible person in the Band, Alves will have to be its public personality. Band members will look to the Drum Major to keep up their enthusiasm both on and off the field, according to Assistant Conductor and College sophomore Lisa Bardfeld. Alves has played the tuba for the Band for the past two years and served as assistant conductor at basketball games this past season. "I got a taste for it, which is why I tried out for Drum Major" she said. "You're completely in control of things. Everyone expects you to know what you're doing." Alves said that she is very excited about her new position. "I still can't believe it," she said last week. "I know the past two Drum Majors and I just can't imagine being in their position. I have to admit though, the best thing about being Drum Major is that I won't have to carry my tuba." Wharton senior Brian Stifel, who will step down as Drum Major on Friday, said that he is confident that Alves can fill his shoes. "She'll do a fantastic job, that's why we picked her," he said. "She's got a great personality, she'll provide strong leadership and everyone likes her. That's what it takes." Although the Penn Band has been open to women since the early 1970s, this is the first time a woman has been Drum Major. Previously few women have tried out for the job, but this time five of the 11 candidates were women. "I think this shows that the atmosphere of the Band has changed," Stifel said. "We're really happy that so many women tried for the position." But Alves does not feel that being a woman will make her job more difficult. "None of the jackets fit me, but apart from that there won't be a problem," she said. "I don't think the people in the band think of me any differently because I'm a woman." Penn Band President Tom Eaton agreed that having a woman Drum Major would not make a difference. "Everyone knows and respects her," he said. "They'll happily follow her leadership. She has the support of the whole board." As the visible leader of the Band, past Drum Majors have tried to set their own style. Stifel was notorious for his taste in unusual hats. At the start of football games he would run to the center of the field and catch a football thrown to him. "I've been told to learn how to catch a football," Alves said. "But I think I'll develop my own eccentricities." Alves also said that she won't change the atmosphere of the Band. "We're all very spirited," she said. "That isn't going to change." But Eaton added that there may be one problem with a woman Drum Major. "There's a tradition that at the first home football game, a bunch of guys tackle the Drum Major," he said. "Then they carry him down the field and ram him spread-eagled into a goal post. I don't know if we'll carry on that tradition with Marianne."

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