Percussion: The Heart of the Band

How important is the drumline?


Angela Young

WCHS Marching Band at BOA Grand Nationals in Indianapolis, IN.

Tyler Case, Staff Reporter

The Woodford County High School Marching Band is something that many people enjoy participating in and watching. I believe that percussion in the marching band is the most important when it comes to the sound of the whole band itself. So, I’m going to ask drummers Nick Jackson (9) and Travis McMurry (10) a list of questions on the importance of the drum line and percussion relative to the marching band.

Photo by the Band-Boosters.
The drum line doing warm-ups before competing.

In your opinion, what is the importance of the drum line?

Nick Jackson: The importance of the drum line is to keep the rest of the band in tempo.

Travis McMurry: The drum line is really the heartbeat of the band. We need to stay under the other main parts of the band and keep the whole band cohesive. We are the glue that is meant to keep the band all together.

Explain your responsibility of being in drum line.

Nick Jackson: We have to be able to play all of our music before most people because of our importance in keeping tempo and all lot of the other band members use our music and rhythm to help them. Also, the drum line and the whole band has to be able to march in step because the drum majors watch us for timing.

Travis McMurry: The responsibility of the drum line is to be a leader of the band.  If the drum line messes up, it is very obvious.  We have to make sure that the band doesn’t slow down or speed up, as it’s very obvious when the band does.  As far as personal responsibility, I play the tenors, so I have to listen to the center snare and play every note exactly at the right time, and also at the right volume.  Also, I have to make sure that everybody is prepared for the rehearsal, and knows their music, as well as where they need to move during the marching show.

What is your favorite thing about playing percussion in the marching band?

Nick Jackson: The bond you get to create with your other percussion members and you start to create this family mentality and you enjoy being around these people. Also, the adrenaline you get during and before performances and shows.

Travis McMurry: I love going to competitions, and hanging out with my friends throughout the week.  We get to see each other every day and really get to know each other well.  We get to see them on their good days and their bad, and it really brings us closer together.

How did you find yourself being in the drum line for marching band?

Travis McMurry: My 1st and 3rd-grade teacher had a son that played percussion in the band, and I had always seen myself as wanting to do music, so I decided to join.  I really enjoyed playing in the concert band, and my percussion instructor asked me if I would like to do marching band for my eighth-grade year.  I didn’t have anything going on that summer, so I decided to try it out.  And at the clinics before the season I was sort of pushed into the drum line side of things, and I’m very glad I was.

How many hours of practice are you putting in for your part in the marching band?

Travis McMurry: There are a lot of hours that go into being on the drum line.  We usually have a two and a half hour practice after school each day during the marching season, and then I spend about thirty minutes each day practicing at my house to improve my skills and make me the best player I can be.

What impact has the drum line had on your life?

Travis McMurry: I’ve really found a place that I enjoy.  Drumline is a place that I enjoy the people I’m around and enjoy what I am doing.  I’ve found a good group of friends now, and I enjoy to be around them.  We hang out outside of school sometimes, and I feel that I can talk to them about things that go on in my life without feeling hesitant about it.

Are there any important traditions of the band and the drum line?

Nick Jackson: There is a lot of traditions the drum line and percussion have. Every year the percussion buys or gets a new mascot that we take to competitions for good luck. Like, last year the percussion had a birds skeleton from a Halloween party that we kept, and we also had a plush animal monkey names wasabi.  These are used as good luck items and just to remind everybody of the good times we have had that year. Also, during band camp, the percussion section and some other band members play a game of wiffleball every day to relax after practicing all morning and just to have fun.

Are there themes incorporated into the shows that you perform?

Nick Jackson: Every year there is a different theme that the props, marching, music, and entire show it incorporated around. Two years ago our show was called Caged, so we had poles that looked like jail bars, we used a poem talking about a bluebird and that his body was a cage. Last year, we had the show called Secrets of the Woods where we had obviously trees and it was a darker themed show. Lastly, this year we had Voices of the Sky that was a brighter show that had bright music with clouds as our props.

What is your most memorable experience of the drum line?

Nick Jackson: There are no specific memories just little things throughout each year that makes the years great and my whole marching band experience a lot of fun and very memorable. Also, the majority of the memories are little, stupid things that you would have had to be there for.