From One Drum Major to Another

Pepper Bough writer and current drum major Erin Dallatorre sits down with CHS alum and world-renowned recording artist Sara Andon to talk about music, busy schedules, and their mutual love for cats.


Courtesy Sara Andon

Sara Andon is a world-renowned flautist. She has performed around the world, contributed to a number of motion picture scores, and currently teaches at the University of Redlands.

An interview over Zoom is not something uncommon when conflicting schedules or locality is an issue between two people. It’s convenient, makes things easier, and if anything helps alleviate some nerves when you’re meeting someone important. 

That’s what I thought when I had an interview with Sara Andon over a Zoom call. 

Most, if not all, of Colton High School’s famous alumni are professional athletes. While it’s evident we haven’t had one of those in a while, an alumni that’s active that we must talk about is Sara Andon.

Class of 1982, her high school resume consists of being Marching Band Drum Major her senior year, being on the varsity Swim team, and being honored with a key to the city after advancing to the national level of a writing competition. 

Since high school, Sara has become an internationally known recording artist, performer, and teacher based in Los Angeles. She’s been playing the flute since she was 9 years old, and still makes all the magic happen on that very instrument. 

And now I found myself talking with her over Zoom. Me, this year’s Drum Major; her, a legend. I knew there was potential to build a connection between us.

By the time I finally figured out how to connect to that Zoom call, my nerves were anything but under control, but I was determined to get to know her.

One might think growing up in a smaller town would be limiting. I found it to be the exact opposite!

— Sara Andon

After the introductions, Sara shared how she chose the flute to begin with. It started in elementary school. 

High School students from the CHS Band paid a visit to Lincoln Elementary to demonstrate what each instrument sounded like. Sara was so conflicted between being a percussionist or picking up the flute. 

“I thought ‘Hmm . . . I have to walk to school every day, so to take all of the percussion instruments home every day, it would take me several trips’ – even though we really would not have had to do that,” Sara said. “But in my 9-year-old mind, I thought ‘Wow—that is a lot to carry, so I better play the flute because it will be much easier to walk to and from school with it every day!’”

From then on she continued playing the flute at both Colton Middle and Colton High, probably not realizing that picking the flute foreshadowed her adult career. 

Looking back on her past, Sara has nothing but love for Colton and the life changing community she had around her. 

“One might think growing up in a smaller town would be limiting,” she said. “I found it to be the exact opposite! It was astonishing to me looking back and seeing the incredible experiences I got to have all in the Colton area… It was so fun and engaging for me growing up to get to know so many wonderful people of our community with so many different talents as well as being so kind and welcoming.”

Her amazing upbringing has helped her nurture an amazing career that has every day packed with tons to do.. 

“I’m practicing every single day in addition to working every day,” she shared. “So that just gives you an idea that’s the kind of day I have. A lot of times I’m not getting home till 11 or 12 at night because I’m driving back home. And you know L.A. traffic—it’s crazy.”

For such a busy, motivated person, it’s hard to have a lot of free time. So when we talked about what she’s interested in outside of music, what she does in her free time, and her favorite movies, strangely enough we really connected over our love of cats. 

As we talked about our feline friends, I felt like my personal love for cats might have actually met its match as Sara told me just how much she loves cats. 

A young adult Sara Andon smiles as she spends time with one of her family pets, Joey the tuxedo cat. (Courtesy Sara Andon)

“I’m a cat lover, I love cats,” she said. “So it’s like I would say a cat would probably be my spirit animal.” She beamed. “I feel like I’m the most like a cat, if I can identify with an animal.”

Sara’s love for cats came from growing up around them: having them as pets and taking care of strays around Colton with her mom. After her mother passed, Sara and her sister made sure that her mother’s mission fixing, feeding, and vaccinating the city’s cats would not die with her.

They are keeping that tradition alive for today’s generation of cats in Colton. 

“I visit [her sister] a lot and she has several cats,” Sara explains, “So I get my cat fix [time spent with cats] when I go to my sister’s, and then I help her with medical bills to help her get all the cats fixed and shots and things.”

What amused me was how she had said a couple minutes earlier that she was so very busy she had little to no free time… yet the stray cats still find time to fit in her schedule. 

I couldn’t help but relate. No matter how late I get home from marching band practice, or football games, or doing homework, I always put time aside to cuddle with my cat sometime during the day. 

Spending time with my cat after an especially long day gives me the comfort and attention I need to keep going the day after. It feels great to know you always have a friend waiting for you at home. 

Sara unfortunately doesn’t have any cats right now where she calls home, but that’s exactly why she gets her periodic time spent with cats by visiting her sister. 

Even though Sara and I are two completely different people, despite our generational divide, our similarities are hard to miss. 

After our Zoom conversation, it is now a confirmed fact that Colton’s Drum Majors are destined to be cat lovers.