ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – As a sixth grader, Elizabethton’s Zada Hardin thought she would be a member of the woodwind section for life.

“I decided flute was going to be my passion,” she told News Channel 11.

But, sometimes music moves people differently than they expect.

“Then I realized that conducting was actually my passion,” she said. “It’s kind of like dancing for other people. It’s the way they relate to music and they can move to music, and this is the way I move to music.

“It just feels very cool being up there controlling the music and moving with it,” she said. “It just feels really awesome.”

Hardin served as drum major for the middle school band in seventh and eighth grade.

“Laying down the foundation in middle school really helped me get to where I am right now,” she said.

Hardin quickly rose up the ranks of the Betsy Band as a high schooler, serving as field commander as a sophomore and now as drum major as just a junior.

She said it’s been an exhilarating, yet challenging experience.

“Just juggling learning the show and also trying to be a good leader for my friends, it’s a lot sometimes in trying to be a friend to those but also having to not be their friend at some moments,” she said.

In the end, it is her passion and will to continue improving that has kept her in the position. Those things have also helped her bring home a few massive state championship trophies this past fall.

“That was definitely the high of the season for me,” she said. “Just seeing the genuine joy of my friends being in band and doing what they love makes me really happy.”

Hardin has equally as lofty goals for herself in the classroom.

“Keeping a 4.0 GPA, keeping up with my assignments,” she said.

Sometimes, trying to keep it all in line can get overwhelming, but luckily she has a great support system at home.

“I have to shut down sometimes and be like ‘OK – finished band, now move on to school,'” she said. “Every day, my parents help me get through it, too. They remind me of my goals and what I need to do. So, if I didn’t have the support that I have, I definitely couldn’t do it.”

That’s not all Hardin does, either. She also sings in the school’s women’s ensemble and participates in the advanced drama club.

You might call her a fine arts triple threat.

The best part is, each activity plays off of the other to help Hardin become a more well-rounded musician.

“Being in women’s ensemble, it helps me in band, just learning how to hear music and how to understand it,” she said. “Then, musical theatre, band and women’s ensemble have helped me bring out the musicality in characters and everything.

“They just all coincide together, which is really cool to see all the fine arts working together – because it’s very rare that people take all three. It’s a little busy, but it’s really fun,” she said.