From sixth grade percussion band to Northwest’s drum major, senior Dalton Haberman found his passion on top of a ten foot ladder in front of 175 other musicians.
Haberman is a sixth year instrumental music education major and has loved every moment of his college experience.
Like many other students, Haberman came into college with a career decision made,only to make a drastic change.
“My major was interactive digital media, computer science and I switched to computer science,” Haberman said.
Haberman then continued his computer science major for three years. After the sixth semester, he realized he did not like his classes or his peers and was ultimately unhappy.
“When I got to college I still loved music, but I didn’t want to teach,” Haberman said. “I knew all of the things I did in high school and I did not want to be the teacher who had to deal with me. So,I looked at salaries and picked a career in computer science. Don’t pick money over passion.”
An ex-girlfriend is the one who finally convinced Haberman to switch to a music education major.
“The days instantly became longer and tougher, but I did not mind because it was something I wanted to do,” Haberman said.
Before college, Haberman grew up in Kearney, Missouri with his parents and two younger sisters. It was through the Kearney school music program that Haberman found his niche.
“We had great music teachers and a great music program. At the time, many of my music teachers were actually Northwest graduates,” Haberman said.
Haberman’s middle school made sixth graders choose between choir and band. Haberman knew his talent did not lie in singing and therefore joined the band’s percussion.
His teachers helped Haberman grow in his music skills and pushed him to continue with music.
“When I was going into eighth grade, I wanted to take an art class,” Haberman said. “My teacher, without telling me, changed my schedule and put me in jazz band instead. It was a good experience for me.”
More than just being talented, Haberman found a strong community with his music.
“You can pick a band geek out of a crowd,” Haberman said. “There is a certain way you behave around people and a particular outlook; there is an identity there. And those people were all my friends.”
Haberman was also involved in sports while growing up, but never quite got the hang of them.
“The last organized sport I played was football in high school,” Haberman said. “I think I would have done better at hockey and I don’t know how to ice skate.”
Instead of organized sports, Haberman and his friends started playing ultimate frisbee. This pastime followed him into college.
“When I came to Northwest there was a group that met twice a week to play,” Haberman said. “It was kind of like the Sandlot. It wasn’t a club, you just showed up Monday and Wednesday at the turf and there was always a game.”
Haberman’s most important lessons were not required by his major.
“I learned more about myself, how to be a good student… and how to deal with other people. More than my studies, I learned how to be my own person and a person other people want to interact with,” Haberman said.
Being part of the Bearcat Marching Band has presented Haberman with various opportunities to meet people and make connections.
“When I got to be drum major for the band, I was immediately more noticeable… Complete strangers would tell me they were watching me and how great the band sounded,” Haberman said.
Haberman has also hosted the Homecoming variety show for the last two years with his roommate, Matthew Peacher.
One of the most recent exploits Haberman participated in was when he switched places with a cheerleader during a football game.
“He went and directed two songs and I cheered,” Haberman said. “Now whenever I go near the cheerleaders, they just give me a megaphone.”
Director of Athletic Bands and Haberman’s academic advisor Kathryn Strickland remembers the switch quite well.
“I had no idea any of this was going on until it was already done,” Strickland said. “It was a hoot. Collin was great, and Dalton didn't drop anyone, so all's well that ends well.”
Now Haberman set a precedent others expect him to follow.
“Now the Steppers are asking me to dance with them,” Haberman said.
The dancing does not make Haberman nervous, it is the uniforms.
“The crop tops don’t matter, it’s the pants I am mostly concerned about.”
Haberman describes himself as a genuinely happy person. Since switching to an instrumental music education major, he is happier pursuing a career he is passionate about.
He is also a hopeless romantic.
“There is also the wonderful experience of chasing a girl and finally getting her,” Haberman said. “Then going through all of the relationship benchmarks are great: first date, first kiss and the first time you said you loved them.”
Even though he is not in a relationship now, those moments still bring him happiness.
However, Haberman also knows relationships can bring pain. In fact, one of his most difficult moments in life was just this last summer.
“I know in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter but... I got broken up with. But it was honestly the most lost I had ever felt,” Haberman said. “I thought I had found the one, but she did not feel that way. I did not have the emotional tools to really deal with that.”
Haberman struggled to cope in the following months.
“I did all of the standard things you tell your friends not to do after a breakup,” Haberman said. “I was so disappointed in myself, but I kept doing the things I knew I shouldn’t.”
Eventually, Haberman started focusing on the things in life that make him happy.
He leaves some advice for anyone going through what he did.
“Take a note from grandpa, it feels relieving to dwell on the sadness, but in the long run it will not make you feel better,” Haberman said.
He also points out how important it is to have a positive perspective of the situation.
“Ultimately, it means you were lucky. You are sad because you had something so good. But you have to start filling yourself back up with happiness, Haberman said. “It doesn’t have to be another person; it shouldn’t be another person. Do what you want to do.”
Haberman attributes a lot of his college success to his advisor, Strickland. She had an interesting first impression of Haberman.
“My first year at Northwest I didn't know him well yet, and he asked on Halloween if he could come to band rehearsal dressed as Walter White from Breaking Bad,” Strickland said.
As she had not seen the show, she asked Haberman what he meant. Haberman replied that he wanted to come to practice in “tighty whities and a T-shirt.”
“My response: ‘Uh, no. Thanks for asking.’ I then asked one of my music colleagues ‘who is that Dalton kid? Is he normal?’” Strickland said.
Remembering the memory still makes Strickland laugh.
“Now I know he is anything but normal,” Strickland said.
Strickland also acknowledges all of the effort and enthusiasm Haberman brings to the band.
“He brings servant leadership with an extra dose of spirit,” Strickland said. “He keeps the energy moving when the group could easily be bored or tired, and is always concerned with the success of his peers.”
Because this is Haberman’s last semester on campus, Strickland knows there are big shoes left to fill for the next BMB drum major after this season. She is very proud of what he has accomplished in the last six years.
“Dalton can fool you. He loves to have a great time and can be the class clown, but he's also very intelligent,” Strickland said. “He's a deep thinker, very observant and is serious about producing quality work.”