Percussion bangs for a buck
The roar of the drums echo Cougar spirit across the stadium during the third quarter of every football game as the drumline pounds the familiar beats that the crowd in the student section has learned by heart.
This fall, the percussion group plays for more than just to rile up the fans in the stadium. It plays to raise nearly $8,000 to play on one of the biggest stages possible for a high school drumline.
On Nov. 1 and 2, the 31-member percussion section of the band will go to the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, an annual event which draws percussionists from around the world. This year’s convention takes place in Austin, so the drumline applied for — and won — one of only two spots for a featured performance. The members started preparing their show in July.
“We knew we were going to the convention for the drumline competition, and then we found out that we were chosen to do the ensemble performance,” said senior and snare captain Connor Moore. “So I think we were all kind of overwhelmed. We were like ‘Wow, how are we going to do this?”
The students now have to juggle extra practices on top of their regular band practices and other activities.
“Well, we have our normal marching rehearsals and we still go to all of them,” Moore said. “Basically we have practice every day that we don’t have a game and except Sunday. We usually go into the commons and disrupt the entire school.”
Sophomore and drumline member Avery Armstrong said being committed takes up a lot of everyone’s time and affects family life, too.
“We pretty much just handed over our lives,” Armstrong said. “When I’m not at school, I’m usually at band.”
On top of preparing for the event, the percussion group and parents also have to focus on raising the large amount of money to go to the convention. The percussion group held fundraisers such as T-shirt sales and selling baked goods and asked for donations from the community with the help of the cheerleaders. The recent tailgate party co-sponsored by the student council and cheerleaders also raised money for the trip.
“We’re more than halfway there,” said board member Sarah Armstrong, Avery’s mother. “The cheer squad has been phenomenal and awesome. They’re doing all kinds of things that are helping us.”
Once at PASIC, the percussion group will compete in a marching competition and will perform a 50-minute-long showcase ensemble featuring a number of marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, snare drums, field drums, bass drums and tom toms.
“We plan to perform a variety of music starting from the 1920s to present day for our showcase ensemble,” percussion director Doug Herrington said. “And for our marching show, we plan to perform music [the directors] had written themselves based on the Halo video games.”
Herrington said the percussion group will perform for the best audience they
will ever play for, including many major percussion corporations.
“The audience will be full of all these people that are just like them who will have a bigger appreciation for everything they’ve done,” Herrington said.
Junior and pit captain Ben Zimmerman said he enjoys how this experience has brought everyone in percussion together.
“I like the sense of fellowship that we have by being in percussion because we pretty much do everything together and it’s a lot of fun playing the music that we have to play,” he said.
In the end, Herrington said he hopes to create a memorable experience for the entire percussion group.
“This is going to be something that they’ll remember all their lives,” he said. “And that’s the ultimate reason why it’s so important that we do this.”