Two weeks after school has let out, excitement is still running high at Mount Si High School.
Energy is localized in the band room, the center of big musical changes to come in the next school year, but it’s growing, as word of a newly forming drum line spreads into the community.
Called the heartbeat of the band, a drum line generates its own kind of electricity, with a line of percussionists pounding out a rhythm that musicians, cheerleaders, and sports crowds can’t resist moving to. It’s an ambitious project to recruit, equip and train 14 drummers in time for the first home football game this fall, but well worth the effort, says Matt Wenman, the new band director at Mount Si.
“Here’s the thing with drum line,” he says, “it’s not just about being inclusive of the kids in the band program, it’s also a Friday night football-game culture thing. It’s about getting everybody into the game, and being engaged in what’s happening. It’s about the community and the atmosphere and the environment of … this community event that is football.”
It’s not just football that Wenman is thinking of, though. He hopes to bring the pep band and drum line to basketball, volleyball and other home sporting events, and maybe some away games.
Wenman, a University of Washington graduate and former band director at Twin Falls Middle School, was hired in May to replace Adam Rupert, and immediately proposed the drum line idea to the Mount Si Music Boosters, headed by President Carol Reitz, and to senior percussionist Zach Tidwell.
“It’s going to be cool,” says Tidwell, who will be attending a UW camp in July to train for the leadership role he’ll be assuming on the drum line.
“I love the sound of drum lines … it’s not just one guy playing, it’s kind of like the core of the band. There’s more student involvement, and I feel like it has more spirit when you have a drum line.”
Both he and incoming sophomore Will Crandell are planning to attend the camp, then teach what they’ve learned to Wenman and the rest of the line.
“He wants to make it more student driven,” says Tidwell, which is why he was recruited early on. “He doesn’t count off any of the songs… I’m going to be leading that.”
Drum line is a huge opportunity for students, not just for leadership, but for simple participation, Wenman says. In the full pep band (all band students at the school perform in pep band) that plays at football and other home sports games, “If you have a drum set, you have one person playing drums on a song, and if you have five kids that play drum set, every five songs they get a chance to play… but if you have a drum line with 15 spots on it, everyone gets to play all the time… and if we have more than 15 kids, we’re going to figure out how to get more stuff, because I want to include everybody.”
Getting the stuff is where the Boosters and other community groups come in. The cost for equipping the drum line—four snare drums, four bass drums, two quad-drum kits, and a pair of cymbals—is about $12,000, and all of the equipment should be ordered by early July to arrive in time for students to use in practice.
“It’s best to learn on your own equipment,” explained Reitz, whose Boosters contributed the first $500 toward the overall goal. The Mount Si High School PTSA, Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation and Boxley’s Place have each contributed $500, with another $1,500 from the Boxley Music Fund earmarked for one of the quad-drum sets. Two snare drums were fully funded, one by a group of Booster parents, another by a music student’s grandparents.
A crowd-funding website (http://www.gofundme.com/36jous) has been set up to take donations for the drum line, and donors can visit the Band Boosters website for videos, more drum line information, and to donate, at www.mountsibands.org/pep-band--drumline.html.